The Nikolskaya (St Nicholas's) Tower is the gate tower of the eastern line of the Kremlin fortifications. It has a tetrahedral shape and a close adjoining diverted fighting platform, the gateway of which overlooks Red Square. It was built by Pietro Antonio Solari in 1491. The name of the tower is associated with the icon of Nicholas the Wonderworker, placed on the façade of the fighting platform, as well as with St Nicholas Greek monastery, once located on Nikolskaya Street. There was an elevating bridge over the moat and guarding bars—herses—on the gates, as in all the gate towers. The gateway inside the quadrangle and the fighting platform are covered with cylindrical vaults. The tower and the fighting platform communicate by the system of stairs and two-level corridors.

The Nikolskaya Tower has preserved its ancient architectural forms longer than the other towers. In the 16th-17th centuries, its gates served mainly for getting to boyar’s houses and monastery farmsteads in the Kremlin. In the 1730s, it was decorated in Baroque style in much the same way as the Arsenal and the Annenhof Palace in the Kremlin — so they formed a single ensemble. In 1780 the tower was rebuilt with a round roof and a pretty low marquee for the first time. In 1806 L.Ruska completely rebuilt the tower — over the quadrangle, he raised an octagon in Gothic style with openwork ornaments and a high marquee.

In 1812 the French Army, when retreating from Moscow, blew up the Nikolskaya Tower. It was reconstructed in 1816-1819, according to the project of the architect O.I. Bove. Architect F.K. Sokolov suggested replacing the white-stone marquee with the frame-mounted iron one and installing four white-stone turrets in the four corners of the quadrangle.

In 1917 the tower was severely damaged during the artillery bombardment of the Kremlin, but the following year it was restored under the supervision of architect N.V. Markovnikov.

Up to 1935, a double-headed eagle was on top of the tower. A star replaced it then — its frame was made of stainless steel and coated with gilded copper. In 1937 a ruby star was installed on the building.

The height of the tower until the star is 67.1 metres, with the star – 70.4 metres.

Nikolskaya Gate Tower. WatercolourNikolskaya Tower. Main viewNikolskaya Tower. PerspectiveNikolskaya Tower. Perspective