The State Kremlin Palace is the Imperial family residence in Moscow. It is difficult to find someone who knows nothing about the famous halls of the orders despite that at the moment it is closed for tourists.
The first palace was constructed on the grounds of the State Kremlin Palace as far back as the period of Dmitry Donskoi’s rule. Initially it was a wood conduit embellished with the first Moscow clock in 1404. By the way, it is still going.
A whole complex of buildings was set here under Ivan III. The customer himself didn’t manage to settle in the palace, and his son Vasily III moved in there.
Time and fires did not spare the building. Although it was rebuilt and renewed every single time. In 1768 Catherine II decided to have the palace reconstructed by Vasily Bazhenov. So the architect created a project that previewed construction of a solid palace covering the whole territory of the Kremlin with all the cathedrals of Ivan the Great, integrated into the building.
A huge building with terraces descending to the waterfront was designed. The new Kremlin Palace construction estimated costs were between 20 and 30 million rubles according to preliminary calculations.
They even constructed the author's larch architectural model having dimensions 17x10 meters and a one-storey Model house for its demonstration. Everybody, including those who were dubious about the Bazhenov’s design of the Grand Kremlin Palace, was impressed. Techniques, dimensions, everything was amazing. The Palace’s inner yards could fit several promenaders. Some of the model’s elements are currently exhibited in the State Architectural Museum of Shchusev.
The demolition of many buildings and even of the South Kremlin wall was initiated, but in spring of 1771 the plague epidemic spread in Moscow, followed by a riot. The expensive construction project of the Kremlin Palace had to be suspended. The next summer they excavated a ditch for the palace foundation that was laid a year later. Time passed by, and the construction didn’t break through the foundation stage due to the lack of funds. So in spring of 1775 Catherine II ordered to fill the pit of the never built Grand Kremlin Palace. Offended, Bazhenov refused to conduct those works and said: I leave this to a person that will be chosen right and proper.”
Besides, the Muscovites were also against the Bazhenov’s idea, so that the architect was sometimes forced to flee from the vengeful crowd.
From 1838 to 1849 architect K. A. Ton built a new Grand Kremlin Palace, which housed all the buildings that appeared over five centuries.
The Emperor Nickolay I personally monitored the working progress and approved every single sheet of the design project. As a result a unique palace was constructed. It surpassed all the palaces of the time in dimensions and decoration luxury.
The Grand Kremlin Palace consists of a system of buildings and mansions set in a rectangle around the courtyard. About 700 rooms and halls are comprised by the palace and the mansions. Five of the most famous halls are named in honor of Russian orders.
Each of them corresponds to its order not only by the name but also by the theme of the decor, reliefs, and tapestry colors. It should be noted that in Europe in the XI century military and religious orders were intended for the Crusades. They became insignias of distinction by the seventeenth century, and then were adopted by Peter I.
For example, marble plaques with the names of the knights of the Order of St. George are placed in the St. George’s (Georgievsky) hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Orange and black colors (the same as on the St. George's ribbon) dominate in the tapestry. And 18 columns with marble statues by I. P. Vitali that symbolize the victory of the Russian armory and land annexation are installed in the niches. Awards and decorations presentations still take place in the St. George's hall.
Moreover, the Great Kremlin Palace has a curious peculiarity: it has two floors, but the three rows of windows are clearly distinguished. According to the architect’s idea the windows in the great halls of the upper floor are arranged in two tiers.
The main facade of the Grand Kremlin Palace range along the Moskva river for 125 meters. Before the Revolution it was adorned with five white stone bas-reliefs of the coat of arms of Russia, the double-headed eagle, and several small bas-reliefs of coats of arms of the historical lands of the Russian Empire (Moscow, Kazan, Astrakhan, etc.).
After the revolution they were cut down, as the building was housed by the Supreme Soviet (Council) of the USSR. Therefore, the Central double-headed eagle bas-relief was replaced by the coat of arms of the Soviet Union, and the letters "C"(“U”) and "C" (“S”) were set on the left and "S" and "R" on the right from the bas-relief.
In 1994 the historical bas-reliefs on the facade were put back during the restoration of the Grand Kremlin Palace. The interiors of the Alexandrovsky and Andreyevsky halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace, which were merged into the courtroom from 1932 to1934, were recreated. The restoration costed about 350 million U.S. dollars.
Nowadays the entire complex of the Grand Kremlin Palace, except for the Armory, is the residence of the President of the Russian Federation. It is here where the ceremony of inauguration of the newly elected President takes place. And, of course, key international agreements are signed within the walls of the Grand Kremlin Palace