Although there is evidence of human habitation on the site of the Kremlin dating back to 500 BC, Moscow’s history really begins around 1147, when Yuri Dolgoruky, Grand Duke of Kiev, built a wooden fort at the point where the Neglina and Moskva Rivers converge. The city grew rapidly and, despite being razed by the Mongols in 1208, was soon powerful enough to attain primacy among the Russian principalities, acknowledged in 1326 when the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church moved there from Vladimir.
At the same time, stone buildings began to appear in the Kremlin and, by the end of the 14th Century, the citadel was fortified with stone walls. Under Ivan the Great (1462 – 1505), the Kremlin became the centre of a unified Russian state, and was extensively remodelled, as befitted its new status. Meanwhile, Moscow spread outside the walls of the citadel, and the Kremlin became a world apart, the base of the twin powers of state and religion. This period saw the construction of the magnificent Cathedrals of the Assumption, the Annunciation and the Archangel, and the uniquely Russian Terem Palace, the royal residence. The addition of the Ivan the Great Bell Tower completed Sobornaya Square, and added to the imposing effect of the Kremlin skyline.
Ivan’s descendents further developed and adapted the Kremlin complex and, even when Peter the Great moved the capital to St Petersburg, Russia’s rulers continued to leave their mark on the medieval town. Peter himself built the Kremlin Arsenal, originally planned as a military museum and now occupied by a barracks, and the 18th and 19th centuries brought Neoclassical masterpieces such as the Senate Building and the Great Kremlin Palace. After the 1917 Revolution, the Kremlin regained its rightful place as the seat of the Russian government, and the legacy of the Communist era is still visible in the large red stars that top many of the defensive towers, and in the vast, modern State Kremlin Palace, originally the Palace of Congresses.