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Astrakhan Kremlin

This austere fortress, defender of the south-eastern Russian borders, was erected near the lower reaches of the Volga, right after an attack of the Khanate of Astrakhan. For many centuries the Astrakhan Kremlin played an important role in Russian political life, even though it was located far from the capital. This white stone fortress often attracted rebels and troublemakers with its riches and might, particularly during the 17th c. when the following names went down in the history of the Kremlin: Ivan Bolotnikov, leader of a peasants’ uprising; Marina Mniszech, wife of both False Dmitries; Stenka Razin, an independent Cossack who led a major rebellion in Russia during the pre-Petrine period. The Astrakhan Kremlin lost the status of a military and defensive building a long time ago; today it serves as a museum and a reserve, hiding various rich exhibits behind its walls.

History of the Astrakhan Kremlin

In the spring of 1558, two years after the Tsardom of Russia finally gained control over the Khanate of Astrakhan, Ivan Vyrodkov, diak of the Razriadny Prikaz and one of the first Russian military engineers, arrived in Astrakhan. He had already distinguished himself by building several strongholds during the siege of Kazan. At Ivan the Terrible's command, Vyrodkov was appointed the governor of Astrakhan. He was in charge of the construction of the first Russian fortress in Astrakhan. Astrakhan’s suitable geographical location, which was the «trade gate to Asia» for the Tsardom of Moscow, became the focus of attention in Turkey and the Crimean Khanate a long time ago. Only the small, unstable reed and clay buildings from the time of the Astrakhan Khanate remained, so the city urgently needed new fortifications. Vyrodkov chose a very suitable place to build the stronghold: on a high hill surrounded by the waters of the Volga and Kutum on two sides and by bogs that were difficult to traverse on the third side. During that time the stronghold was wooden, but it had solid earthworks, wooden walls and towers. (more)

What can you see there?

The complex of the white stone Astrakhan Kremlin is a harmonious set that consists of more than twenty buildings. It is a great example of Russian architecture from the 16th-19th century. Kremlin defensive walls preserved in a very good condition, the high towers and beautiful cathedrals with green tile domes make this old city majestic and sophisticated, and the arranged tower bell with the "Prechistenskie Vorota" (Prechistenskie Gate) became a symbol of Astrakhan a long time ago. The main gate into the stronghold is in this 80-metre beauty, so the visiting of the Kremlin usually starts from here. Because of the tower’s height and soil settlement, the bell tower was renovated several times, and at the beginning of the 20th century it started to tilt, so it was named «the Leaning Tower». A new tower bell was built in 1910 by local architect Kariagin, and two years later a clock was added. Today the clock plays the melody of «Slavsya» from Glinka's opera «Ivan Susanin» twice a day.

Out of the eight Kremlin towers, only seven survived, but only three of them are similar to the original 16th-century structure: the Crimean Tower, the Artillery (Torture) Tower, and the "Krasnyje Worota" (Red Gate). In the Torture Tower seasonal exhibitions are held (May-October), they are dedicated to the ruling of Astrakhan, various rebellions and uprisings as well as tortures and punishments inflicted on rebels. In the Powder Cellar on the Artillery Courtyard there are seasonal interactive exhibitions that use multimedia. They show the life and customs of the garrison of riflemen and simple townsmen. In 2011 the Guardroom was renovated. Now it houses an exhibition on the life of soldiers behind the Kremlin walls during the 19th century. You can see a restored interior of the officer's room, a private office of garrison authorities, rooms for prisoners and a watchman’s lodge.

Opening hours of the Astrakhan Kremlin:

Free admission to the Kremlin – from 07:00 to 20:00;
museum exhibitions – from 10:00 to 18:00 (Tuesday-Thursday), from 10:00 to 20:00 (Friday-Sunday).