Tula Kremlin

Tula Kremlin
Tula Kremlin – the oldest building in Tula Russia

The Tula Kremlin is located in the center of the city of Tula. It is a fortress with stone walls and towers equipped with special loopholes, which were designed to repel enemy attacks. The architectural style is very reminiscent of the Moscow Kremlin. The same two-horned dovetail barbs located at the top of the fortress walls.

Many people very often see these characteristic outlines when broadcasting from Moscow the speech of the leadership of our country or holding parades dedicated to the anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). True, the walls of the local Kremlin are slightly different from the walls of the capital. The lower part is built of limestone and is white.
There is an assumption that the style of the Moscow Kremlin was taken as the basis for the construction of the Tula Kremlin. Most likely Italian architects also “had a hand” here. The Tula Kremlin is smaller than its main brother, but its appearance is still impressive. At present, the walls are about ten meters high and about three meters thick. This monument of past centuries has “survived” to this day in good condition. In addition, in recent years, restoration work has been ongoing there. The Kremlin takes on its original appearance and becomes a unique historical place in Tula.

History of the Tula Kremlin

Its history goes back to the reign of Ivan Vasilyevich III (years of life 1440 – 1505). Just in 1503, Tula was joined to the Moscow principality. The Grand Duke put in a lot of effort as a collector of the Russian lands. Dying, he transferred to the heir several times more territory than he himself took. It was under him that the Horde Khan completely loses power over Russia. Ivan Vasilyevich III was the son of Vasily Vasilyevich II, nicknamed “Dark”, the grandfather of Ivan Vasilyevich IV, nicknamed “Terrible”. The grandmother of Ivan the Terrible was the second wife of Ivan Vasilyevich III, Sophia Paleologue.

Despite the harsh customs that reigned in Russia at that time, Ivan Vasilyevich III tried to pay at least some attention to culture and history. Sophia Paleologue, who was an enlightened woman and brought a voluminous library with her, made a big contribution to this. It is believed that these books became the basis for the “Library of Ivan the Terrible”, which has not yet been found. Sophia came from the last Byzantine imperial dynasty of the Palaeologus.

The influence of the desire to study and record the world around him was transmitted to other contemporaries of the prince. It was during the reign of Ivan Vasilyevich III that the Tver merchant Afanasy Nikitin set off on a long journey, and then wrote his famous book “Walking the Three Seas”. In the legal direction of development, a code of laws of the state – “Code of Laws” was adopted. With the annexation of new territories, Ivan Vasilyevich III tried to strengthen the expanding borders of the Moscow principality. He passed on these views to his son Vasily III (1479 – 1533).

Following the instructions of his father, in 1507, Prince Vasily III ordered to lay an oak fortress (fortress) in the recently joined Tula. And already in 1514 he decided to build a stone one inside the wooden fortress. By 1520, construction was completed.


The Tula Kremlin is a rectangle with an area of about 6 hectares. In subsequent years, two cathedrals were erected inside the fortress – the Assumption and the Epiphany (currently it houses the weapons museum). The Kremlin towers were named mainly for their purpose or location. For example, the Spasskaya Tower was named because of the Church of the Savior that was built opposite. Initially, its name was Vestovaya, as the alarm bell hung on it, the ringing of which warned of impending danger. After the construction of the church, they decided to rename it. The tower of the Odoev Gate (Kazan Tower) is named after the city of Odoev, in the direction of which the road goes from it, etc.

Nikitskaya was one of the most important towers at that time. Received the name from the nearby area – Nikitsky end. It kept the treasury and stocks of gunpowder. The ominous entourage of the tower also conveys its other purpose – robbers and thieves were tortured here. Of course, this is not torture by the Catholic Inquisition, but still, a modern person becomes uncomfortable with what he sees. For example, many people know the expression “Learn the whole story.”

Few people now guess that the executioners spoke this way, when after the torture there was no result, and the second round of torment ensued – thin metal nails were driven under the nails of the fingers and toes. The information obtained in this way was called “ins and outs”. Those who want to tickle their nerves can visit the museum located in this tower. In fact, such punishments as “rack” or “execution by quartering” were exceptional measures. In most cases, for minor offenses, “chains” or “chairs” were applied to ordinary people. This can be seen from the following table.

Maybe someone is delusional and does not really understand the kind of punishment called “chair”? So, from the picture on the left, you can see that this is a large and heavy block, chained to the neck of the offender. Its height is 58 cm and its weight is 20.5 kg. Stretch your imagination and imagine yourself in the place of the punished. You won’t be able to take it off, and you won’t be able to walk for a long time either.

Reflect on that time. Think how difficult life was for people then. Despite everything, they survived. There have been periods in the history of Rus when a dubious change of throne led to a low legitimacy of power (the people’s consent to power and its voluntary recognition). In turn, this was followed by very sad consequences. The Tula Kremlin witnessed some of them. An example is the “Time of Troubles” (1598 – 1613). During this period, even the kings and their families were not safe and died from the wrath of the raging crowd. The reasons for the riots were often ill-conceived decrees of the tsars and their behavior, which violated the foundations then prevailing in Russia.

Historical monument

The existence of such monuments with a long history as the Tula Kremlin prompts us to learn more about that time. Who was then the ruler and why in the development of the Moscow state the events took place exactly like this, and not in another way. The policy of uniting Russia into a state around the Moscow principality was carried out by many grand dukes, including Vasily III. Most of the appanage princes and boyars did not like the restriction of their own power at all. Therefore, internal resistance has always been great.

Particular difficulties arose at the time of the transfer of power. The princes paid great attention to the preparation of the heir and tried during their lifetime to minimize the risk of the very moment of transfer. Vasily’s first marriage with Solomonia Saburova turned out to be childless. Since he needed an heir, the prince had to file a divorce from her (later she was exiled to a monastery).

The second time the prince married Elena Glinskaya (1508 – 1538). They had two sons – Ivan (Ivan Vasilyevich IV, nicknamed “Terrible”, years of life 1530 – 1584) and Yuri (Prince of Uglich, years of life 1532 – 1563 biennium). Many people know Ivan the Terrible as a negative personality in the history of Russia. Probably so. The truth cannot be discounted. Life circumstances that influenced the formation of his personality. After all, he lost his father at the age of 3, and his mother at the age of 8.

There were princes and boyars around. They wanted to pay for the policy of his father and grandfather, which limited their power. Whatever it was, but the fact remains in history. Ivan the Terrible was the first tsar of All Russia. He ruled (even at the beginning formally) for 50 years and 105 days. This is more than any leader in Russia, both before him and after.
Years and centuries have passed, many tsars and leaders of Russia have changed, and the Tula Kremlin remains unshakable. Already from behind the ancient walls, modern high-rise buildings are visible, somehow absurdly looking against its background. Years will pass, and the Kremlin will remain a confirmation of the past and a reminder of the great history of Russia.