It was due to frequent invasions that kremlins were built within medieval Russian cities to protect the rulers and inhabitants from enemy forces. Wooden kremlins were often built on the chosen spot first. Then stone structures were constructed to create more permanent shelters. Within these kremlins, cathedrals, churches, palaces, and defensive structures were erected. Well-known and oft-visited kremlins include the Kazan Kremlin, the Novgorod Kremlin, and the Astrakhan Kremlin.
The most famous Russian kremlin, and that most associated with Russian royalty, is the Moscow Kremlin. Cathedrals from Ivan the Terrible's time and before still stand within its walls. On the neighboring Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral expresses testament to this tsar's defeat of the Tatars, its colorful domes celebrating victory even to this day. The Moscow Kremlin's walls, towers, and palaces are a symbol of Moscow and of the endurance of Russia through invasions, shifts in government leadership, wars, and changing times.
Royal Residences in RussiaRussia's palaces rival the most famous and luxurious in Europe. From the exterior, they are sprawling, elaborately decorated buildings with countless windows, golden scrolls, and elegant gates. From the inside, they are ornately appointed with silken wallpaper, patterned parquet floors in rare woods, and artwork.
- Peterhof, Peter the Great's Palace complex
- Tsarskoe Selo, which includes the Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace, and was used by various rulers such as Catherine the Great and Nicholas II
- Gatchina, a gift to Count Orlov from Catherine the Great
- Pavlovsk, the palace of Catherine the Great's son, Paul
Coronation SitesThe Assumption, or Dormition, Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin was main site of royal coronations, including Ivan the Terrible's, Catherine the Great's, and Nicholas II's. Coronation regalia, including royal crowns, thrones, and carriages, are on display in the Moscow Kremlin's Armory Museum.
Burial Places of the TsarsTwo major burial sites for the tsars and emperors of Russia exist: the Cathedral of the Archangel at the Moscow Kremlin and the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Ivan the Terrible is among those buried at the Cathedral of the Archangel. Major figures such as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Nicholas II lie in the Peter and Paul Cathedral's crypt.
Portraits of Russian RulersYou'll see portraits of Russian tsars and emperors in palaces, churches, and museums in Russia, and indeed, throughout Europe (for example, the last of the Romanovs are lovingly portrayed in the royal palace in Cetinje, Montenegro). But one of the best places to view portraits of Russia's monarchs is in the Tretyakov Gallery. Famous portraits of Catherine the Great are some of the most notable features of the gallery's collection. The Hermitage and Catherine Palace also house artwork pertinent to royal Russia.
Symbols of Royal RussiaThe Russian flag was established by Peter the Great and was flown as a symbol of the Russian Empire until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The flag of the Tsar of Russia was emblazoned with the double-headed eagle, another symbol of the tsars, which came from Byzantium.
The Imperial Crown of Russia, on display at the Armory Museum, is often used as a symbol of the Russian emperors, appearing above the royal cypher after the ruler was crowned in an official ceremony. It was used from the time of Catherine the Great to Nicholas II. The orb and scepter, along with the Imperial Crown of Russia, appear on the coat of arms of the Russian federation, maintaining a link from modern times to Russia's monarchical past. The cap of Monomakh, a crown used in the coronation of Ivan the Terrible, is an older symbol of Russian rulers.