Moscow Kremlin – What to See Inside
Once you understand the Russian Kremlin basics, you will need some practical and helpful tips to get the most from your Kremlin visit. This information is set out below. Please check it out and let us know if this was helfpul!
What To See Inside the Kremlin
The Moscow Kremlin is a complex of different cathedrals, palaces and museums, which can be divided into 4 main categories:
1. Kremlin Museums and Territory
(Accessible with a purchased ticket)
2. Grand Kremlin Palace Complex
(escorted tours by arrangement)
3. State Kremlin Palace – Concert Hall
(Accessible with a concert ticket)
4. Presidential and Administrative Buildings
(Off-limits to tourists)
The Kremlin Territory and Museums
The Kremlin Territory is very large, occupying an area of 27 hectares. The good news is that the larger part is accessible to tourists!
Once inside you can visit the gorgeous Cathedral Square, enjoy the views of the Kremlin Cathedrals and admire the Tsar Bell (the broken bell) and the Tsar Cannon. You will also see the exterior of some important Kremlin buildings, including the Presidential Residence and the Grand Kremlin Palace (also known as the Great Kremlin Palace).
After touring the architectural ensemble of the Cathedral Square, take the weight off your feet at the spacious Kremlin Garden which is especially charming during the warmer seasons.
- In the Kremlin Garden make sure to see the Space Tree (no kidding!). The First Man in Space Yuri Gagarin planted it two days after his legendary flight on 12 April 1961. To find the tree, face the Moskva River, it will be to your left. It is the only oak tree in the Kremlin Garden with a sing in front – it’s in Russian… but we’re certain you won't miss it!
- Presidential Helicopter landing areas – you can see them too. Again, while in the Kremlin Garden turn to face the River and get close to the cast iron fence. On your left (in the Kremlin south-eastern corner) you will see the two helicopter landing pads.
Kremlin Churches in the Cathedral Square
There are five churches in the Cathedral Square, which you can visit during your Kremlin tour:
- Assumption Cathedral (also known as Dormition Cathedral)
- Archangel Michael Cathedral
- Annunciation Cathedral
- Church of the Deposition of the Robe of Holy Virgin
- Church of Twelve Apostles (part of the Patriarch Palace)
These churches are not the only ones behind the Moscow Kremlin Walls. There are other private churches which belong to the Presidential and Administrative part of the Kremlin and can not be visited.
- Make sure to visit the main Kremlin church – Assumption Cathedral (also known as Dormition Cathedral). It has 3 entrances, 2 of which are usually closed. Its main entrance is at the rear (its western side), and is not at all obvious.
- On rare occasions, there are morning services in one or the other of the main churches (they usually last a few hours). It is possible to visit the church after the service finishes.
Ivan the Great Bell Tower and the Assumption Belfry
Various temporary exhibitions are displayed at the Exhibition hall of the Assumption Belfry (adjoining Ivan the Great Bell Tower). Usually, you can visit these temporary exhibitions using the ticket to the Kremlin Cathedrals and Territory.
From late spring until early autumn it is possible to climb up to the 2nd level of Ivan the Great Bell Tower. Be warned, access is complicated and tends to change from year to year. So we recommend that you check before planning your Moscow Kremlin visit.
There are usually fixed entry times (sessions) for the Kremlin Bell Tower. In 2016 they were 10:15, 11:30, 13:45, 15:00, and 16:00. Since only 15 people are allowed per session, there is a limited number of tickets sold 45 minutes before each session (these tickets are not sold online, unfortunately).
The Patriarch Palace is in the Cathedral Square. On its 2nd floor, there is a permanent exposition. It is devoted to the Russian culture of the 17th century and includes precious church and secular tableware, jewelry, antique furniture and clothing.
- If you’re visiting the Kremlin Armoury Museum the same day and your time is limited, a similar, but a larger, display can be found there. The Armoury's precious collection is renowned throughout the world. So make sure you save enough energy, during your Moscow Kremlin tour, to visit this valuable, vast and exciting exposition!
The Moscow Kremlin Armoury Museum is one of the world’s foremost former Royal treasure houses and a national pride. Its rich collection includes the State Regalia, coronation dresses, carriages, Russian gold and silver artwork, arms and armor, Faberge eggs, and ambassadorial gifts from all over the world. No Moscow Kremlin tour is considered complete without a visit to the Armory Museum.
The Moscow Kremlin Diamond Fund is a separate exhibition, located inside the Armoury Museum building.
The Diamond Fund precious collection can be compared to the Crown Jewels in the UK and Imperial Crown Jewels of Iran. The Great Imperial Crown of Catherine the Great and all succeeding Emperors, adorned with 5000 diamonds is displayed there, along with seven Historic Precious Stones, each one gloriously world famous. A visit to this special place may become the highlight of your visit to Moscow!
- For overseas travellers, arranging a visit to the Diamond Fund is probably the easiest of all the Kremlin Museums. A word of warning though, the information written about it on the Internet is sometimes misleading.
- No advance booking required – buy a ticket as you go.
- No ticket limits for foreign travellers! There is a limited number of tickets for Russian visitors only, as they can enter the Russian Diamond Fund with a group tour only.
- Sorry, no group tours for foreign visitors however that does mean you can enter it anytime you wish during the Diamond Fund opening hours.
Grand Kremlin Palace and Interconnected Buildings
This group of the Kremlin buildings belongs to the Presidential Residence and includes:
- The Grand Kremlin Palace (middle of the 19th century). It is the former Moscow Royal Residence, used today for official receptions of the Russian President and inauguration celebrations. The Palace is sometimes called the Great Kremlin Palace.
- Faceted Palace, also known as Hall of Facets (late 15th century). It was used as the main Parade Hall for formal receptions of the Tsars. Today it is one of the representative halls for formal receptions of the Russian President.
- Terem Palace (17th century). It was the first stone palace used by the Tsars, until newer royal residence were constructed (i.e. the Grand Kremlin Palace).
- Golden Tsarina Chamber (16th century, reconstructed many times). It was used by Tsarinas as their official reception hall.
- The Upper Saviour Cathedral and other Palace Churches (17th century).
Visit to Grand Kremlin Palace Complex is not impossible with advance arrangement!
A tour of the Grand Kremlin Palace usually incorporates a visit to the Palace itself, the Faceted and Terem Palaces, and the private parts of the Imperial Family.
A visit to the Grand Kremlin Palace Complex is possible in two ways:
- By the President’s invitation (provided for state-level visits, to some Russian and overseas organizations etc.).
- With a 2-hour group Great Kremlin Palace tour or private Great Kremlin Palace tour on request. Passport details of all the group members are required.
State Kremlin Palace
The State Kremlin Palace is the newest structure in the Russian Kremlin, put up in 1961. Please do not confuse it with the Grand Kremlin Palace (sometimes called Great Kremlin Palace) described above.
Today, the State Kremlin Palace is one of the most popular Moscow concert halls. Tickets for events can be bought online or in the Palace Ticket office which is located next to the Kremlin main entrance – Kutafya Tower – the only white tower in the Kremlin.
The Palace is the main venue of the Kremlin Ballet – one of Russia’s leading ballet companies. Its Artistic Director and Сhief Сhoreographer is the celebrated Andris Liepa.
- The Kremlin Ballet delivers top-level dancing art, while their events are more affordable than those of the Bolshoy Theatre. Visiting a performance of the Kremlin Ballet may be a great option, if the Bolshoy run out of tickets or is excessively expensive.
Presidential and Administrative Buildings (off-limits to tourists)
The Russian Kremlin is the country’s main museum, and also serves an active (working) Residence of the Russian President. So, some areas and structures of the Kremlin Russia are off-limits to tourists.
- Senate Building – the official working Residence of the President of Russia
- Administrative Kremlin buildings that belong to the Kremlin Commandant Office and the Federal Security Service
- Arsenal – nowadays occupied by the Presidential Regiment.
If you wish to avoid all of the hassle of organising your own Kremlin visit, let us take care of it – book one of our Kremlin Tours.