First stop on our four-day whirlwind tour was the Moscow Kremlin, fortress on a hill, home of the Russian government. Overlooking the left bank of the Moscow River, this triangle-shaped complex means business, perched high on the walls of the Kremlin embankment. Inside, you’ll find cathedrals, palaces, bell towers and Vladimir Putin. So really, fun for everyone, then.
Our first full day saw some seriously snowy weather conditions, and I’m not sure I would’ve had it any other way – a blankety white Moscow is just how nature intended. Crossing the street from Borovitskaya metro station, we followed the signs to the ticket centre. For 700 rubles (£15), you can get a ticket to the Armoury Chamber, which holds historical Russian treasures and has timed entry throughout the day. A ticket to the Kremlin grounds themselves was 350 rubles (£7.50), and you can enter whenever since it really just involved wandering around outside at your own pace.
Arriving just in time for the 12:00 Armoury entrance, we did an audio guided tour of majestic halls filled with bejewelled scriptures, Faberge eggs, dazzling dishware, thrones, carriages, and Russian dress, spanning from the 4th century to the 20th. You say you want a revolution? I’m not surprised, after seeing the playthings of the royal and wealthy! Had to be a bit sneaky with my iPhone photos, but this kind of gives you the gist of it:
Afterwards, we headed towards the appropriately-named Cathedral Square. The whole experience was a bit surreal – through the falling snow, we could make out a beautiful backdrop of gold-domed churches with vast colorful buildings in the background. While there were people around, any sound was muted, so I felt very much in my own world. For relief and warmth, you could wander into any of the cathedrals, many of which were over 500 years old.
At this point, my partner in Kremlin exploration was getting a tad chilly (I’ll concede that it was getting a bit tricky to see, what with the wet snow in our eyes), so we quickly moseyed on through the rest of the grounds, ending with the dripping-with-Sovietness State Kremlin Palace, formerly known as the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. My favorite shoe-banging Communist leader Nikita Khrushchev had it built as a place for party members to meet. Nowadays, it’s a theatre, and has hosted such American icons as Cher and Tina Turner. Oh, how times have changed! Anyway, the State Kremlin Palace is not to be confused with the Grand Kremlin Palace, house of Putin. He didn’t come out to wave, but that’s probably because he was busy *insert any of the following: fishing, hunting, wrestling alligators, practicing at the shooting range*. Maybe next time. For now, I leave you with one of my top ten favorite links of all time…