The Kremlin Necropolis
30 January, 2014
If you have been lucky enough to visit Red Square already, you probably have noticed that almost the entire side of the Kremlin wall facing the square is guarded and off limits most of the time. Why you ask? Because besides the large “black box” located in front of the wall, known as Lenin’s Mausoleum (Мавзолей Ленина), the wall itself is also the resting place of the remains of many Bolshevik and Soviet figures.
The idea of laying remains to rest on Red Square and in the Kremlin wall is a relatively new invention. The practice began in 1917, when 240 pro Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution were buried on Red Square. After the death of Lenin, a wooden mausoleum was constructed on the square and later, replaced with the current granite one. After these events, the practice of interning the ashes of politicians, cosmonauts, scientists and military leaders became a state function to honor their deaths.
Since the breakup of the USSR, the practice has been suspended and a burial has not taken place in the wall since 1985. As for Lenin’s remains, they are still on public display most days of the week and continue to be a topic of debate. A slight majority of Russians wish to bury him permanently in the ground in Saint Petersburg (as he requested before his death), however no actions have been taking in this direction thus far.
If you want to visit the tomb and wall, get to the square in the morning. Don’t bring any handbags with you and be quite as you pass through. Don’t worry about the unamused looking guards either.