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The Moscow Kremlin is a symbol of Russia, one of the greatest architectural complexes in the world.
In fact, the Kremlin is a medieval city-fortress with numerous palaces, churches and armouries. The 90 ac (36.4 ha) ensemble of the Kremlin has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Its architectural history may be divided into the three periods: the wooden Kremlin (dated back to the 13th cent.), the Italian Renaissance Kremlin, and the modern Kremlin.
The Kremlin began its history as a regular wooden fortification, founded on a hill overlooking the Moskva and Neglina rivers. Due to its location the fortress quickly grew into a town.
But during the Mongol invasion in the 13 century the town was destroyed. By the middle of the 14th century, the power of the Mongols was declining and the Kremlin was experiencing a new period of prosperity. In the 14 century, in the course of modernization of the fortress the wooden walls were replaced with stone ones. During the next two centuries, until Peter the Great transferred the capital of Russia to Saint Petersburg, the Kremlin served as the central stage for the Russian history. With the shift of power to St. Petersburg, Moscow and the Kremlin declined. However, the Bolsheviks chose Moscow as their capital thereby returning the Kremlin to pre-eminence. During Soviet rule the Kremlin experienced second life as a great centre of power. Nowadays it serves as a residence of the Russian president.
The Kremlin is situated in the very historical core of the city. Two thirds of the Kremlin territory are closed to visitors, but the remaining third containing the precious Kremlin collections is available to tourists. There are enough attractions open to the public to spend a couple of days exploring them.
1. Best time to visit the Moscow Kremlin
High season (April – October)
Ticket offices start to work at 9:30, so expect a long queue at this time. And mostly it consists of those who want to buy tickets for the first session in the Armoury (at 10:00). You can spend 40-60 minutes in the queue. As a general rule, the queue length is closely linked with the sessions in the Armory (at 10:00, 12:00, 14:30, 16:30). About half an hour before the session, the queues in front of the ticket offices and metal detectors increase.
The best time to go to the Kremlin is the second half of the day on weekdays (starting from 15:00).
The longest queue is on Saturday at around 11:00-11:50, when people gather to see the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Cathedral Square of the Kremlin. The ceremony start at 12:00.
If you are not going to attend the ceremony, visit the Armory Chamber at 12:00. There are most likely less people than at other times.
The perfect time to visit the Armory Chamber is the second half of the day on weekdays. There are almost no queues for the last session (at 16.30).
Low season (November – March)
During low season there are almost no queues in front of the ticket offices. They appear either in the morning (about 10:00), or around noon. Rarely the waiting time may exceed 30 minutes.
The entry ticket to the Kremlin allows you to visit all of the cathedrals and the museums of the Kremlin, except Ivan the Great’s Bell Tower, the Armory Chamber and the Diamond Fund.
Tickets can be purchased either on the official website of the Kremlin or at the Kremlin ticket booths.
Please note, that you can buy tickets online for the Armory and for the Cathedral Square, but not for the Diamond fund.
The ticket offices are located in Alexander garden (Aleksandrovsky Sad). There are also machines that dispense tickets.
The Diamond fund is open for visiting daily from 10:00 to 17:00 with exhibit sessions starting every 20 minutes and a break from 13:00 to 14:00. Tickets can be purchased in ticket offices 4 and 5 situated in Alexander garden.
During high season, we recommend you to buy tickets online. They are available 14 days in advance.
Please note, that the persons under 16 years old have free admission to the Kremlin (including the Armory). But their tickets cannot be purchased online, and you still have to buy the tickets in the ticket offices in the Alexander garden.
Please note! If you purchase your ticket online, after payment you will recive a link to download a voucher, which should be exchanged for ticket at ticket booths number 9, 10, 11, and 12. Usually, there are no long queues at these ticket offices.
3. The Moscow Kremlin from the bird’s-eye view.
The Ivan the terrible bell tower is the highest building in the Kremlin. It offers stunning view over the Kremlin and its vicinity. There is an exhibition room at the ground floor of the belfry. The bell tower is accessible during the warm season only (April – October). The exposition is open daily except Thursdays. Sessions start at
10:15, 11:15, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00 with an additional session at 17:00 from 15 May to 30 September.
An audioguide is available and designed for 45 minutes. Bear in mind that after listening to the whole audio tour, you will have less than five minutes to enjoy the view from the belfry. So think carefully about whether you need the audio guide.
4. The Kremlin’s cavalry guard change.
A centuries-old tradition of the ceremonial changing of the guard revives in Kremlin each Saturday through the Russian warm season (April to October). The ceremony is a mix of intricate maneuvers by the infantrymen and cavalrymen, special arms’ drills and musical performances. The ceremony starts at 12:00 and lasts 20 minutes. People start to gather in the Cathedral Square at around 11:30.
Admission to the architectural complex of the Cathedral Square entitles you to visit the ceremony.
In order to buy the tickets and to get to the ceremony in time, come early, by the time the ticket offices start to open.
Opening hours from 10:00 to 17:00
Ticket offices are open from 9:30 to 16:30
Day off – Thursday
It is possible to visit the Cathedral Square of the Kremlin free of charge during the festival “Museums at Night” in May and on the Day of Historical and Cultural Heritage of Moscow in mid-April. For accurate dates see the Moscow events.
Please Note: Visitors need a separate ticket for the Armoury Chamber, the architectural ensemble of the Cathedral Square (the Church of Laying Our Lady’s Holy Robe, the Patriarch’s Palace, ets), the Ivan the Great Bell Tower. In order to prevent overcrowding, the visit to the Armoury Chamber and the Ivan the Great Bell Tower is possible strictly on time on purchased tickets.
Visit the Moscow Kremlin official website to learn more about opening hours, prices and available exhibitions.
Latitude: 55°45’1.832″ N (55.750509);
Longitude: 37°36’51.8714″ E (37.614409)
The nearest metro stations:
1. Red line: “Biblioteka Imeni Lenina” (Rus: Библиотека имени Ленина) and “Okhotniy Ryad” (Rus: Охотный ряд)
2. Dark blue line: “Revolution Square” (Rus: Площадь Революции)
3. Light blue line: Aleksandrovsky Sad (Rus: Александровский сад)
4. Grey line: “Borovitskaya” (Rus: Боровитская)
5. Green line: “Teatralnaya” (Rus: Театральная)
There are two ways to enter the Moscow Kremlin:
Entrance 1: Trinity Gates
Entrance 2: Borovitskiye Gates. Go to Borovitskiye Gates, if you decide to start with the Armoury Chamber or Diamond Fund.
Please note, visitors are not allowed to enter the Kremlin with big bags, backpacks, and suitcases. There is a storage room in the Kutafiya tower (next to the entrance 1).
Check out the full list of the most interesting tours in Russian cities.