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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Magical History Tour Of the Kremlin's Towers

One thing that I've always loved about the Kremlin is that each of the 20 towers along its walls is unique, almost a personality of its own. Therefore, it has always bothered me that even most inveterate Muscovites, to say nothing of transient foreigners, never bother to learn the towers' names. So, in order to help you get acquainted with these beautiful neighbors, here is a quick rundown of all the towers by name.

The big tower with the clock is the most familiar, Spasskaya bashnya or Savior Tower, named after an icon of Christ that was placed there in 1658. To the right, behind Lenin's mausoleum, is Senatskaya bashnya which was named for its proximity to the former building of the tsarist Senate. Next, the round one that looks like a candle is called Nikol'skaya bashnya, named after the St. Nicholas monastery that used to be located on Nikolskaya ulitsa which runs past the main entrance of GUM.

On the corner between Red Square and Aleksandrovskii sad is the Uglovaya Arsenal'naya bashnya, or Corner Arsenal Tower. On the other side of the Kremlin arsenal stands the Srednyaya, or Central Arsenal Tower.

The main Kremlin tourist entrance is the Troistkaya bashnya, or Trinity Tower. The small tower at the other end of the bridge is called the Kutaf'ya bashnya, from the old word kuta meaning low.

Next comes the Komendantskaya bashnya, so named because the Kremlin commandant's house was once located nearby. Behind the Armory (Oruzheinaya palata) stands the Oruzheinaya bashnya. Finally, on the corner stands Borovitskaya bashnya, named for the pine grove, or bor, that once stood here.

A little further along is the round Vodovzvodnaya bashnya, named for the water pumping system it contains. Along the river side of the Kremlin is a series of small, militaristic towers. The first is the Blagoveshchenskaya bashnya, or Annunciation Tower, named for a miracle-working icon it once housed. Tainitskaya bashnya, the Kremlin's oldest tower, comes next, named for a secret (tainyi) entrance once located here. The next two towers are the Pervaya and Vtoroyaya Bezymyannaya bashnya, the First and Second Nameless Towers. The last small tower is Petrovskaya bashnya, named for the Church of Metropolitan Pyotr that was once located there.

Next is the Beklemishevskaya bashnya, named for the nobleman Beklemishev whose house stood nearby. Then comes the Konstantino-Yeleninskaya bashnya, named for the Church of Konstantine and Yelena that stood here until the 18th century.

Returning to Red Square, the last two Kremlin towers are the Nabatnaya bashnya, named for the alarm bell (nabat) it housed, and the Tsarskaya bashnya, from which Ivan the Terrible liked to watch what was happening on the square.