The Design and Construction History of the Kremlin Stars

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The Moscow Kremlin, is a huge fortified complex, which includes five palaces, four cathedrals and has been the center and official residence of the Russian Empire.

= The Key Map of Moscow Kremlin = Beautifully illustrated map of architectural ensemble of Moscow Kremlin with keys for sites, museums, palaces and towers of the historic fortified complex at the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River. Besides that the kremlin serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation, it is the great and one of the biggest in Europe museum-preserve comprising over than 60 thousands historical, cultural and artistic monuments. Only three and a half thousands are included to the museum’s permanent displays.[Image Source: Moskow Kremlin Museum]

The Kremlin is surrounded by walls and 20 towers to defend the area, which built were in 1156. Until the August 1935, the spires of the Kremlin towers were decorated with heraldic double-headed eagles, but after the decision of the Central Committee of the AUCP, the symbols were replaced with five-pointed stars, as a new symbol of the new system.

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The design process of the new symbol wasn’t easy at all. Ordered by Stalin, the design and production process was held by the Central Aero-Hydrodynamic Institute of professor N.E Zhukovsky in Moscow. He gave the sketching mission to E.E Lansere, but Stalin asked for a revision, and Zhukovsky gave it to the F.F.Fedorovskiy.

After designing the sketches, Fedorovskiy made the actual sized prototypes, which included imitations of gems and it shined in the dark sky, and was approved by the government.


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The production process was ran by hundreds of people from different professions. Painters, artisans, engineers, blacksmiths have worked all together to create the unique stars for all the towers. The first stars were made by red copper and stainless steel. They even created special electroplating plants to get the gliding effect.

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The symbols of the each star were veneered with gold and 7000 semi-precious gems like amethyst, topaz, alexandrite, rock crystal, and aquamarine which came from the Ural, sized between 20 to 200 karats. All the stars were designed to be tough to resist to the hardcore winds and hurricanes of Russia.


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As we can guess, there were no cranes long enough to install the stars on the top of the towers. So they had to design a special crane, which was based on the tower and the console was inserted through the window. Installation day has become a holiday for Moscowians.

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The whole city met in the Red Square to watch the operation and cheered when the old symbol double eagles shot down. After the rising of the stars to the top, the climbers installed them on the exact points in half an hour for each.


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The dream didn’t stay so long. After two hardcore winters of Moscow, the gems, and the gold leafs felled down. The proportion of the stars noticed that they were not in a harmony with the elegant roofs of the Kremlin towers. So the second period was started in 1937, this time, with different materials.

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Fedorov decided to cover the stars with ruby glass, and re-designed the size, pattern and the shape of the stars. Ruby glass was brewed in a glass factory Konstantinovka, with a new technology ‘selenium ruby’ which is way cheaper than, by glassmaker N. Kurochkin.

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However, they faced another problem,  the ruby glass was becoming black in sunlight! It caused a dilemma, but the Chief Engineer Professor Alexander Landa Fishelevich got involved in the project and found the solution, with lightning and rotation!

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Fishelevich ordered specially designed lamps for each star from the Moscow Electrical Lamp Plant. To refuse the overheating or damage possibility, they designed the stars to be able to pass by about 600 cubic meters of air in them, per hour.

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The power of three lamps of the Spasskaya, Nikolskaya and Troitskaya towers is 5000 watts. The Borovitskaya and Vodovzvodnaya’s are 3700. In each, two filaments connect in a parallel, so if one of the lamps burns the other continues working. There was a control panel, which shows the fault, and to change the lamps.

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After 79 years, they are still shining on the towers like the first day, and they are just cleaned by industrial climbers every five years. If you travel to Moscow, don’t forget to view the stars with a glass of Russian tea, and remember this story.

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