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Description of the Moscow Red Square
Most recognized destination in Russia, Red Square is
surrounded by buildings and structure from most of Russia's
history. Ironically this World famous landmark has a wrong
translation. A Russian world for for "red" or
krasnaya (красная) in medieval times was
actually used in two meanings: red and beautiful. So the actual
name of this World famous landmark is "Beautiful Square".
Kremlin walls that serve as a backdrop for Red Square were
originally wooden. Only in the 14th century they were replaced by a
white stone structure, but even after red brick walls were erected
in the 15th century the defences were still painted white. So for
much of Russia's history "Red Square" was surrounded by white color.
In fact another nickname for Moscow is "white- stoned" or
people who visit Red Square realize that it was designed as a single open
air church modelled after
Church of Holy Sepulchre in
Jerusalem (map of
the church on the left). If you look at the layout of Church of Holy
Sepulchre you can see the similarities between general outline of these
structures. It is no coincidence. Faith in New Jerusalem as a place of
righteousness was particularly strong in a Russian society at the time it
was constructed. Architected simply put these beliefs in stone and brick.
Open space of Red Square served as a place for worshippers,
while the area around Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral (mistakenly known as
Saint Basil Cathedral in the West) served as the altar where Jesus Christ
was buried. In the medieval times Saint Basil's Cathedral stood on a small
round hill that in eyes of Russians represented a round rotunda where the
tomb of the Jesus' burial stands. The church itself is so small that it was
never intended to serve as a major prayer site. Instead its presence on a
location was supposed to represent a chapel of Tomb of Christ on a round
hill. If you have been to Jerusalem you would know that Calvary or Golgotha
stands just few feet from the former burial cave of Jesus. Here on Red
Square medieval artisans constructed their own small version of Golgotha.
Lobnoye Mesto or literally 'Forehead Place' was a reference to Golgotha or
'place of the skull'.
By the middle of the 17th century,
the shopping arcades of Kitay-gorod and Red Square numbered 680
points, which were divided into three types:
various shops, half-shops and quarter-shops - permanent covered
places of trade. The size of the bench was set as follows: 2 fathoms
wide and 2 ½ fathoms deep; half-and quarter-benches were
correspondingly smaller. In addition to the shops, there were wine
cellars, tents and "kadi" - the kadiu was the name of the place of a
fermentor or a merchant of some kind of drinks, who was located with
his goods in the open air. "
In 1635, under Mikhail
Fedorovich, a stone Gostiny Dvor was built on Red Square.
Contemporaries described it as "marvelous and very decorated": the
bricks for the building were made according to the German model at
the factory of the Dutch master Ruderik Martys, the facades were
decorated with tiles and stone carvings. The main gate was decorated
with a golden double-headed eagle. Funds for the construction were
provided not only by the treasury - a significant part was also
contributed by merchants, owners of permanent outlets. Later, in
1664, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich ordered to build a new Gostiny Dvor
next to his father's building and issued a number of decrees
regulating the order of trade on the square. Then the townspeople
were forbidden to build near the Kremlin wall, and hawkers and
peddlers were transferred to other markets.
shops on Red Square, cannons made in the local courtyard were
placed, some in the open air, some in a stone tent. All the guns
were directed by their vents to the east - in the direction of the
appearance of a possible enemy. Nearby was "the most riotous tavern
in the city, called" Under the cannons ".
The end of the 17th
century was the heyday of the architectural ensemble of Red Square.
In 1681, a tsar's decree banned wooden construction, so it became
almost completely decorated with stone buildings and received a new
front entrance: the renewed Resurrection Gate with a decorative
hipped roof and double-headed eagles. In 1697, the Mint was erected,
the walls of the Kremlin were whitewashed, and two new front porches
were added to the Pokrovsky Cathedral.
Under Peter I in 1698,
Red Square was finally cleared of temporary stalls and small
buildings, a significant part of trade was transferred to other
parts of Kitai-Gorod. Only peddlers who sold goods were allowed to
stay. In 1699, in the northern part of the square, a new stone
building of the Zemsky Prikaz was built to replace the old wooden
one. It was decorated in the style of the European town hall, the
facades are decorated with tiles and white stone carvings.
the 16th-18th centuries, Red Square was the center of political
life: people flocked to it, news was discussed, unrest and riots
took place, and royal decrees were read from the Execution Ground,
in some cases demonstrative executions were carried out nearby. On
July 25, 1570, the most massive of them took place, when at the
height of the "oprichnina terror", on suspicion of a conspiracy,
Ivan the Terrible ordered the execution of more than a hundred
boyars. In 1671, Stepan Razin's head was cut off at the Execution
Ground, and after both rifle riots for several years there were
gallows on Red Square. In 1768, Daria Saltykova was serving on the
scaffold a "disgraceful show": chained to a pole, she stood under
the sign "torturer and murderer"