Kremlin Armoury (Оружейная палата)

Today I visited the Kremlin Armoury, the oldest museum collection in all of Russia. It houses a collection so gaudy it is almost vulgar. Even items made by Fabergé don't really stand out in the crowd of jewels, weapons, and royal items including coronation crowns, clothing and carriages.

The 20 or so wooden carriages from the 16th, 17th, 18th and maybe 19th centuries were worth the price of admission alone. There was even a small child's carriage, which was pulled not by horses but by ponies, and security was provided by dwarves.

Besides the ancient wooden carriages and sleds, my favorite items were two royal thrones, and the massive collection of ancient weapons: hatchets, muskets, swords and spears.

Ivan the Terrible's throne was hand-carved ivory, and based on what I've heard of the guy, I was half expecting to see blood stains on the bleached bones of a chair as ornate as any I've ever seen.

There was a double-throne for half-brothers Ivan V (Ivan Alekseyevich Romanov) and Peter I (Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov). Fifteen-year-old Ivan would have been crowned tsar alone but was mentally and physically ill, needing help even to walk, so 10-year-old Peter was crowned as well. He turned out to be Peter the Great. The throne was about 15 feet tall, ornate with a wide chair split down the middle for both brothers, and a square cut out of the back behind Peter's seat. The square was covered in cloth during its day, and a royal assistant sat behind the cloth, whispering instructions to the children to assist them with confusing or complicated royal ceremonies, usually those that involved receiving gifts from anyone wishing to receive a royal audience.