Great Kremlin Palace is a masterpiece of Russian
architecture of its time. It was built in the southwest
part of the Kremlin, on Borovitsky Hill, on the site of
the earlier residence of grand princes and tsars.
the Middle Ages in Russia a “Palace”, formerly “Terem”,
meant a complex of buildings with gala (reception) halls,
living rooms, court churches, workshops and household
The prince’s Terems in the Kremlin were first noted in
the mid-14th century and were associated with prince Ivan
inexorable time and numerous fires did not spare the
Kremlin’s old buildings. By the end of the 18th
century many of them had fallen into decay. The
construction of a new palace which would meet the
requirements of the royal court began in 1838 and lasted
palace faces the Moscow River. A group of architects
headed by Professor K.A. Thon (1794-1881) from St.
Petersburg who was known for his ability to build quickly
and well, was entrusted with the task of designing and
constructing the building. The outstanding Moscow
architects F.F.Richter, N.I.Chichagov, P.A.Gerasimov and
others took part. Their talent and professionalism enabled
them to cope with the complicated task of uniting several
buildings belonging to different styles and different
times (14-17cc.) less than one roof. Among them were the
Facets Palace, the Tsarina’s Golden Palace, the Terem
Palace, the domestic churches and a building erected in
the 19th century.
the interior is modern as regards its design and
constructional concept. The exterior of the palace is
designed according to a model typical of past centuries;
the traditional approach is clearly expressed in the
application of decorative techniques. The palace has
carved white-stone pediments and double-arched plat bands
on the window-openings with pendants suspended in the
center (as in the 17th-century Terems). The main and the
eastern faces of the building have terraces, which are
reminiscent of an old-Russian gulbische (a gallery built
on the basement around a house). The main entrance and the
arch recesses of the south side of the building match
well. The palace has a figured roof and a tetrahedral
attic with a cupola on top.
Great Kremlin Palace has surpassed many other European
palaces in its grandeur and magnificence. Its main facades
are 125m long and 44m high. There are about 700 rooms with
a total area of almost 20,000 sq.m. There are two-storeys
but three tiers of windows because of the two tiers of
windows in the gala hall on the second floor. The socle of
the brick walls is covered with gray stone and the
cornices and plat bands are covered with limestone. The
interior is decorated with national materials.
Great Kremlin Palace is a unique example of Russian
architecture of the mid-19th century. Elements
of various styles, from baroque to classicism, were
incorporated in the palace’s interiors, which are still
almost intact today. Its décor is distinctly luxurious
and perfectly executed.
eminent artists and sculptors F.G.Solntsev, I.H.Vitali,
P.K.Klodt and O.V.Loganovsky were involved in decorating
the interior alongside architects. Furnishings were made
after their designs at famous Russian factories and
gala reception halls- named Georgievsky, Vladimirsky,
Andreyevsky, Alexandrovsky and Yekaterininsky- are on the
second floor of the Great Kremlin Palace. Their names
correspond with the Russian pre-revolutionary orders whose
elements are included in the stucco moldings in each hall.
The upholstery is colored in correspondence to the
respective decoration ribbon.
Georgievsky (St. George’s) Hall is the largest and most
popular of the gala halls. It was conceived as a hall of
glory of the Russian army and is devoted to the military
Order of St. George instituted by Empress Catherine II in
1769, one of the most honorable of the royal decorations.
Inside, the hall is majestic and solemn. The light from
the two tiers of windows floods the room and visitors are
struck with its enormous size- the room is 61m long. 20.5m
wide, and 17.7m tall. Relief work, sculpted and gilt
bronze decorations adorn the snow-white walls and the
vaulted ceiling. The hall glitters in the light of the
many-tiered openwork bronze chandeliers and wall lamps set
all along the cornices. The huge vaulted ceiling of the
hall is held up by 18 massive pillars leaning against the
twisted columns cast in zinc. Above their capitals one can
see statues- the allegoric images of the regions, which
joined the Russian state from the late 15th to
the early 19th century (by the sculptor
I.P.Vitali). The names of the regiments awarded with this
order and of the Knights of St.George are inscribed in
golden letters on marble plates on the walls and pillars.
furniture is gilded and upholstered by watered silk of the
same color as the decoration ribbon. There are relief
images of the order symbols (the cross and the star) in
the carved ornamentation of the walls and the vaulted
ceiling. In the semi-circulars of the transversal walls
there are high relief’s by the sculptor P.K.Klodt,
depicting St. George on horseback. The magnificent
multicolored parquet was made up of 20 valuable types of
wood and was designed by the artist F.G.Solntsev. It looks
like an enormous carpet covering the floor of the memorial
hall. Nowadays this hall is used for celebratory meetings,
award ceremonies and diplomatic receptions.
Besides the St.George’s Hall is the Vladimirsky
(St.Vladimir’s) Hall devoted to the Order of St.
Vladimir instituted by Catherine II in 1782. It was built
on the site of the open Boyar Gallery of the 17th
century. It links the palace buildings of the 15th-17th
centuries with the later, 19th-century
buildings. It is an octagonal room with the corners cut
off and there are big broad arches in the low part. Above
them is a tier of smaller arches where the choir gallery
is situated. The walls and pilasters are covered with
rose-colored imitation marble. The cupola-shaped vault is
decorated with gilt ornaments and symbols of the Order of
St. Vladimir (a red-enameled gold cross and a star).
During the day the Hall is lit by the sun shining through
the vaulted cupola and in the evening a large bronze
chandelier lights up the hall. The pattern of the parquet
floor which is made of rare species of wood (artist F.G.
Slolntsev) is beautiful. Once again there is corresponding
watered silk upholstery on the furniture.
Andreyevsky (St. Andrew) hall was devoted to the Order of
Saint Andrew instituted by Peter I in 1698. It was the
Russian emperors’ Throne Hall. There was a throne at the
East wall. On ceremonial occasions higher military
officials met there. Hall has ten gilded pillars and
gilded doors with the Order’s insignia, crosses and
chains. Walls were upholstered in blue watered silk (of
the color of the Order of St. Andrew’s ribbon) and are
also decorated with chains and the symbols of the Order.
There are emperors’ monograms, the monogram of Peter I,
founder of the Order, the other one, of Paul I, who
instituted the Order’s status, and the third one, of
Nicholas I, who built the Alexandrovsky Hall, over the
doors leading to it. There were crests of Russian
gubernias and regions over the windows. Miller made
Hall’s parquet after the Academician Solntsev’s
design. Two tiers of windows, ten bronze chandeliers and
35 wall lamps light Hall. In the back wall, there are
glass panel doors and false windows. The interior was
decorated with two mantelpieces made of gray-blue jade.
There was no furniture in the hall.
Hall was named in honor of the Order of St. Alexander
Nevsky, instituted by Catherine I, in 1725. Its walls were
covered with rose-colored imitation marble. A spherical
cupola is supported by sail-like vaults and is decorated
with the Order’s symbols and state emblems. Crests of
Russian gubernias and regions were between the gilt
twisted columns. There is a gilt steel framework of the
Old Slav structure over the entablement of the upper
columns, on each side of the doors and between the
windows. Moller’s scenes from the life of St. Alexander
Nevsky hang on the walls. Hall’s parquet is made from
various types of wood after the Academician Solntsev’s
design. The room has two tiers of windows, six chandeliers
and 28 wall lamps. There are glass panel doors and windows
in the back wall. Hall was decorated with four marble
mantelpieces and gilded chairs (made by Touret), which
were upholstered in velvet of the color of the Order
ribbon. The upholstery on the back of the chairs is
embroidered with the Order’s stars.
and Alexandrovsky Halls were combined in 1934 and were
equipped to hold sessions of the party congresses and the
the second floor of the West wing of Great Kremlin Palace,
there is “Gala Half” suite: Yekaterininsky (St.
Catherine’s) hall, Gala Reception Hall, Bedroom and
Catherine’s Hall was formerly the Russian empresses’
throne-room. It was named in honor of the Order of St.
Catherine instituted by Peter I in 1714.
hall’s cross-vaulted ceiling is supported by two massive
pylons. The pilasters are decorated with bronze capitals
and malachite mosaics. Walls are covered with gray watered
silk, with a red edge (the color of the decoration ribbon)
and the symbols of the Order against a background of red
ribbon with the motto “For Love and Fatherland”.
Gilded stucco molding on the vaults and the cornices, the
gilt carved doors with the Order symbols, the gilt bronze
chandeliers and the beautiful crystal candelabra on
pedestals of red French marble all create a festive
atmosphere. This hall’s parquet is also made of various
types of wood and is of great artistic value.
St. Catherine’s Hall is preceded by Gala Reception Hall.
The artist, D. Artary, painted the vaulted ceiling of this
semi-circular room, with floral ornament. Both the walls
and furniture are upholstered with golden-green brocade.
Tables and doors are made in Buhl style (the famous French
wood-carver Buhl worked at the court of louis XIV). The
furniture is incrusted in copper, lead, nacre,
tortoise-shell and valuable types of wood.
in the walls are riveted with white imitation marble. In
the niches are porcelain torcheres, which are finely
painted in “Chinese style”. Enormous candelabrum,
which holds 60 candles, and flower vases, made in
“Japanese style”, is worthy of attention.
real and imitation marble of different colors-white,
rosy-gray and green, was widely used in the hall’s
interior trimming; Greenish-grey marble columns and
bluish-greenish jade mantelpiece are the main focus in the
room. These are fine examples of Russian stone carving
made at Urals lapidary works in Yekaterinburg.
and candelabra, on the mantelshelf, were made by French
craftsmen in 19th century. Walls and gilded
furniture were upholstered in bright crimson damask. The
damask, velvet and brocade used for walls, furniture and
curtains were produced at G.G. Sapozhnikov’s works in
Moscow. Fabrics produced at this factory were considered
the best in Russia and were internationally known.
Cloakroom is the last in the suite of rooms of Palace’s
“Gala Half”. Its walls and ceiling are covered with
walnut and no paste was used while paneling the room.
Moscow craftsman, I. Hertz, did this work. An alabaster
chandelier lights room, which has fine herbal pattern, cut
on its thin milk-white facets. Chandelier was cut in
Santino Campioni’s workshop in 1845-1848. Its form was
inspired by antique models the imitation of which was a
very popular trend in the art of the first half of 19th
royal family’s living apartments were called “The
Personal Half” and are on the ground floor. They form
suite of rooms facing South. Elements of various styles
including classicism, baroque and rococo were combined in
the decoration of the interior. Massive pillars divide up
the rooms into cozy compartments. They are made still more
comfortable and cozy by the skillful arrangement of its
richly inlaid furniture. As in St. Catherine Hall, the
gilded stucco moldings in the room help add to festive
atmosphere. Damask in motley colors was used for the
curtains, upholstery of the furniture and walls and its
color coordinated with that of the mantelpieces, thus
creating an atmosphere of inimitable beauty. Each one out
of the seven large rooms, that is, Dining Room, Drawing
Room, Empress’s Study, Boudoir, Emperor’s Study,
Waiting Room and four small connecting rooms, is a unique
example of interiors of 19th century. The
specific atmosphere of each room is created by skillful
selection of porcelain, crystal and bronze and unique and
varied furniture and upholstery.
suite of rooms of “Personal Half” opens up with the
largest and biggest room, the Dining Room. It is adorned
in Renaissance style and walls and ceiling are covered
with imitation white marble. Colored panels hang on the
walls and there are many marble statues, porcelain vases
and trochees imitating ancient Roman models. Marble vases
on top of high pedestals are in the niches and these vases
are decorated with scenes from Greek and Roman mythology,
such as Leda and Hymen, maenads and Satyr and the Olympic
gods. There are two porcelain vases, which are worth
mentioning for their beauty and clear classical
proportions. They are painted with subjects taken from
Russian history and portraits of Kuzma Minin and Dmitry
Pozharsky, Peter I and Catherine. Any description of the
room would be incomplete without mentioning the crystal
chandeliers, which are not the same in any of the rooms.
the subsequent rooms are divided into two parts, differing
in size and designation. As in Dining Room, the forepart
with windows and fireplace is more formal and is split by
the axis of the suite. The back of the rooms was designed
for pastime and leisure.
capricious gracefulness of the rococo style is quite
evident in the interior decoration of Empress’s Drawing
Room: The light colors, the elegance of the stucco
moldings and floral patterns and the furniture’s curved
contours distinguish the room. Porcelain is in abundance,
including flower vases and candelabra. There is also large
central chandelier in the form of bouquet finished with
pineapples, symbol of prosperity. Russian craftsmen from
Imperial Porcelain works in St. Petersburg were famed for
their skill in modeling porcelain flowers.
and colored marble and gilt are widely used for decorating
the Empress’s Study. There is crimson damask on the
walls and furniture is inlaid with tortoise-shell, gilt
copper and brass in Buhl style.
focus of Boudoir is a magnificent fireplace, covered with
small pieces of green Urals malachite carefully chosen in
color and pattern to create the impression of monolith.
Craftsmen, working at Demidov and Turchaninov, works in
the Urals in 19th century, attained perfection
in finishing malachite. Gilt medallions adorn the
fireplace. They depict sirens, cartouches, and rosettes or
have a vegetable pattern.
the Boudoir are the Emperor’s Bedroom and Study. These
rooms are decorated in a stricter manner as dictated by
Bedroom’s walls and furniture are upholstered in blue
damask. The color of blue, white and gold are prevalent in
the interior decoration. Ceiling is painted with bouquets
and thin foliate volutes. There is white-marble fireplace
upon which stand clock and candelabrum.
Study has strictly formal appearance. Walls are finished
in light-colored ash-tree; the furniture is upholstered in
green leather. Over the fireplace, between the windows, is
a glass panel. On the ceiling are stucco moldings and
chandelier in modern style. The soft furniture, in
Emperor’s Waiting Room, is upholstered with “velvet on
satin”. The peculiar clipping of its pile creates an
interesting color play, because the shades of velvet
change depending on the light. This and other fabrics were
made at the factory of Moscow merchant G.G. Sapozhnikov.
The Great Kremlin Palace is a unique monument of
history and culture. It reveals fully the artistic manner
and national peculiarities of Russian craftsmen of various