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Photographer's Note

This imposing structure is one of the more recognizable features of the Kremlin complex, as it serves as something of a ceremonial entrance, used to greet dignitaries or for formal ceremonies or processions. According to legend, because it was once the main entrance through which the tsar passed, anyone entering had to remove their headgear and dismount their horses, and people would customarily cross themselves to show respect. In fact, it is also reported that Napoleon's horse shied when passing through the gate when he failed to demonstrate this respect, which caused his hat to fall off! This custom ceased during the Soviet era, however.

Its size and the presciently curious color, bright red brick, made it a popular landmark during the Soviet era, so one might think that it is younger than it actually is. It was constructed by Italian architect Pietro Antonio Solari in 1491, but it was initially named the Frolovyskaya Tower after a church which has since been demolished. It is now named for a wall-painted icon, Spas Smolensky, or Smolensky Savior, which dates to the 16th century and was placed on the outside wall. It was plastered over in 1937 but has since been uncovered and restored. The clock dates to between 1491 and 1585, and designates official Moscow time. Its face has a diameter of about 20 feet. The tower itself measures about 215 feet, including the star. It has undergone some slight alterations, however. Stalin replaced the former double-headed eagle on the top with the red star which is there still, to remove any association of the former rule of the tsar. In 1999, the gate was finally closed to all traffic, but it is used occasionally if repairs are made to the Borovissky Gate, the other major entrance; it is now only used for presidential motorcades, parades and special events.

My one MAJOR regret here is that the star is missing! I took this photo as a teenager, and came across it while going through some storage boxes the other day, so I thought that I would post it, more for the memory than anything else, but, amateur that I was, I just didn't get the star in the frame. I liked the lighting and the imposing nature of the structure, however, which is kind of overwhelming; at least, it was when I was there in my youth, which was just about 18 months after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 83 W: 78 N: 909] (1703)
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