March 01, 2010

Beneath Kremlin Walls



‘Twas ever thus, alas.  Some people create masterpieces, only for others to disfigure them. But at some point a third party appeared in this process: restorers, or specialists who return the original beauty to works of art that have suffered at the hands of people and time.

The history of the Russian restoration movement began in the Moscow Kremlin. In 1783, the wise decision was taken to restore the southern wall of the fortress, which had been dismantled to make way for a palace that was never built. And not just to restore it any old how, but rather to its “original form.”

In recent years, the Kremlin has seen restoration and research work on an unprecedented scale. Such work has produced sensational results and restored the original appearance of a large number of outstanding works from the Russian middle ages. It might seem that the Kremlin’s world-famous — even proverbial — architecture had been studied exhaustively. But because the Kremlin was a “forbidden city” for 70 years, its most important treasures have remained terra incognita for several generations of historians.


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