Moscow Kremlin: The Armoury Museum

Written by GUYS². Posted in 1-2 hours tours, Moscow Private Guided Tours

Moscow Kremlin: The Armoury


The State Armoury Museum is a kind of encyclopedia of Russian art and Russian history. Most of the items on display here were actually made on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin, in the workshops that served the grand princes and tsars. Many of the works which are kept in the Armoury are connected with the names of famous figures in Russian history, and some pieces are mentioned in documents dating back to the 14th century as symbols of the power of the Grand Princes and the Russian state.

The Armoury collection, the only one of its kind in Russia, enables you to form a clear picture of the exceptional mastery of Russian gold- and silversmiths. From the unique objects in this collection you can trace the development of Russian decorative and applied art and learn about the different methods of working precious metals.

The Moscow Kremlin is the Russian national relic and the symbol of the Russian statesmanship. The history itself has directed that the Kremlin hill became the main sightseeing attraction of Moscow – the guardian of the historical memory of many generations, which created and preserved their priceless heritage. During many centuries The Kremlin has been the heart of national relics, family treasures, conveyed by Grand Princes and later the Tsars family. The first testimonies of the existence of the Princes’ treasury appear in the documents of the 14th beginning of the 15th centuries in the wills and testaments of Moscow Princes Ivan Kalita, Dmitri Donskoy, Basil I. Those documents contain wittings about gold crowns, precious belts, armory and jewellery, begueathed to the heirs.

Originally the riches of the Grand Princes’ treasury were kept in the basement of the Annunciation Cathedral and other Kremlin cathedrals. At the end of the 15th century a special building for keeping of treasures, called Treasury Court, was erected between the Annunciation and the Archangel Cathedrals. Together with the growth of the power of Moscow, the Kremlin treasures also multiplied, from being personal and dynastic possessions they turned into the property of the state. Within the period of the 16th-17th centuries the whole networks of storehouses and workshops were erected on the territory of the royal court – the Treasury Court, the Tsars and Tsarina’s workshops, the Armoury, the Gold and Silver offices, the Stables Chancellery. Among the Kremlin court installations The Armoury Chamber was the most significant therefore it lent the future museum its name. The first chronicle reference to the Armoury Chamber as a Tsars treasury appears in the «Short Chronicle» in 1537. In 1727 the precious historical and art relics of the Moscow Kremlin were assembled within a unified institution – the Workshop and the Armoury, which became the depositary of the precious ancient antiquities and state regalia. On the basis of it, on 10 March, 1806, the first museum of Russian national history and culture was set up, by decree of Emperor Alexander I. This document legislatively fixed the transformation of the state treasuries into the State museum of national memorablenesses.

The building of the Chamber, located in the South-Western part of the Kremlin, was erected in 1851 by the architect from Saint-Petersburg K.A. Ton especially for the museum, as a part of the grandiose construction complex of the Grand Kremlin Palace – the Moscow residence of the Russian tsars. Its elegant and majestic forms, the solemn enfilades of halls represent a fine specimen of Russian architecture of the 19th century.

The Armoury, one of the oldest museums of Russia, the world famous museum-treasury, it has almost two hundred years of history and preserves the unique collection of decorative and applied art, closely linked with history of the Moscow Kremlin itself. Today museum keeps and guards the items of ancient regalia, ceremonial tsars garments and coronation dresses, vestments of the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest collection of gold and silver items, created by the most skilled Russian craftsmen, West-European decorative silver, significant examples of armory, collection of rich carriages, sumptuous horse harness. The museum exhibits nearly four thousands items of decorative and applied art of Russia, Europe and Asia of the 4th – beginning of the 20th centuries. Its superior aesthetic level, cultural and historical value brought the Armoury Museum the tremendous popularity in the whole world.

The architectural ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin, including the State Armoury was declared the national possession of the peoples of Russia. In recognition of the uniqueness of the monuments of the Moscow Kremlin and their exceptional place in the cultural development of the world, UNESCO has placed them under special preservation as a part of mankind’s historical and artistic heritage.


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