What Is the Kremlin?

Today the “Kremlin” means the Government of the Soviet Union, the same way that the “White House” means the President of the United States. The Kremlin is actually a medieval fortress, and there were once many kremlins in Russia!

A kremlin is a walled fortress within a Russian city, where local rulers once lived. Within the walls were palaces, army barracks, storehouses, and other buildings, making a kremlin a city within a city. The kremlin in Moscow became the Soviet Union’s seat of government in 1918, so today the “Kremlin” means only the kremlin in Moscow.

The oldest buildings in the Kremlin date back to 1365. The walls that surround it are 1.25 miles long, enclosing an area of about 90 acres, making it the largest fortress in Europe.

The Kremlin also boasts the world’s largest bell and the world’s largest cannon, a gun so big that it’s never been fired!