I mean, how long could I live in Moscow, without having visited the Kremlin? Honestly, I should be ashamed of myself. And to top it off, I haven’t even paid my respects to Lenin. Worst. Tourist. Ever.
Basically, I had never found enough time to go to the Kremlin. Guide books and websites always recommend a full day, and somehow (cough* University*cough ) something had always been in the way. Or I prioritized sleep.
Within the Kremlin walls there is a small area which is visit-able by the public, along with a variety of government and official buildings. Buildings to visit include a whole host of churches and cathedrals, a few exhibitions, and a small but lovely garden. Mind you only walk on the footpaths, though, otherwise an angry sounding whistle will put you in your place, and a security guard will point at the footpath until you return to it.
I was surprised at how little I was fascinated by the Kremlin. After reading the whole, big book on the city within the city, the work that has recently been done to renovate it and re-shape it into the version of impressive devotion that it once was, a physical (and perhaps symbolic) mixing of state and religion, I expected to be more swept off my feet.
Yes the churches are beautiful- colourful, gilded, ornate, pompous. However, the inside is maze like, with many walls and no large open spaces. If they do open up, they literally open upwards, creating tall but small spaces, and a feeling of cramped-ness. (If such a word exists). This was particularly a problem when many of us came to see the same space at once- in the burial chamber where many tsars and noblemen were entombed in caskets which took up most of the floor space, it became so cramped that it was hard to move between them while still respecting the personal space of others.
What I did enjoy was the tremendously large bell that sits on the square, split, having never rung, and the gardens that have a view of the Moscow river. The autumnal leaves again made this a really lovely place for a walk, and I can understand that tsars and presidents alike feel safe and secluded behind these walls.
Speaking of figures of government, Putin was too busy to give us some of his time- and we realised that the ‘public access’ part of the Kremlin is actually only a small bit of the complex. I wonder what else you could find in there…