Image by Jeff Overs BBC News & Current Affairs via G
The Armoury dates to 1511, when it was founded under Vasily III to manufacture and store weapons, imperial arms and regalia for the royal court. Later it also produced jewellery, icon frames and embroidery. To this day, the Armoury contains plenty of treasures for ogling, and remains a highlight of any visit to the Kremlin. If possible, buy your time-specific ticket to the Armoury when you buy your ticket to the Kremlin.
Your tour starts upstairs, where the first two rooms house gold and silver objects from the 12th to the 17th centuries, many of which were crafted in the Kremlin workshops. In Room 2, you'll find the renowned Easter eggs made by St Petersburg jeweller Fabergé. The tsar and tsarina traditionally exchanged these gifts each year at Easter. Most famous is the Grand Siberian Railway egg, with gold train, platinum locomotive and ruby headlamp, created to commemorate the Moscow–Vladivostok line.
The following rooms display armour, weapons and more armour and more weapons. Don’t miss the helmet of Prince Yaroslav, the chain mail of Boris Godunov, and the sabres of Minin and Pozharsky.
Downstairs in Room 6, you can see the coronation dresses of 18th-century empresses (Empress Elizabeth, we’re told, had 15,000 other dresses). Other ‘secular’ dress is also on display, including an impressive pair of boots that belonged to Peter the Great. The following room contains the joint coronation throne of boy tsars Peter the Great and his half-brother Ivan V (with a secret compartment from which Regent Sofia prompted them), as well as the 800-diamond throne of Tsar Alexey, Peter’s father. The gold Cap of Monomakh, jewel-studded and sable-trimmed, was used for two centuries at coronations.
End your tour in Room 9, which houses centuries’ worth of royal carriages and sledges. Look for the sleigh in which Elizabeth rode from St Petersburg to Moscow for her coronation, pulled by 23 horses at a time – about 800 in all for the trip.
A one-hour audio guide is available to point out some of the collection's highlights, or you can download the Armoury Chamber app on your smartphone and use it instead.