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The building of the Arsenal has a long construction history. It started in 1702 at the initiative of Peter I in accordance with his plan. The Arsenal was supposed to be used not only as a military warehouse, but also as a museum-repository of military trophies and ancient weapons.
In 1706, due to the war with Sweden and a lack of funds, construction was slowed down and after several interruptions was completed only in 1736 (after 30 years it was finally finished, but burned down the next year in 1737).
In 1737, during the fire in Moscow, the Arsenal was badly damaged, all wooden floors burned out. The building was restored only in 1786-1796. This work was carried out under the direction of M. Kazakov.
Before the retreat of Napoleon’s troops from Moscow in 1812, the Arsenal was blown up, the north-eastern end was destroyed to the foundation, the rest of the building was damaged. Restoration work began in 1814 and ended in 1828.
Despite such a long construction period, the originally conceived space-planning solution of the building was preserved. Only the structures of the floors, the internal layout, architectural and decorative details on the facades changed. In the plan, the building has the shape of an elongated trapezoid with a large courtyard, it is adjacent to the fortress wall by the north-western and north-eastern sides.
After 1812, it was planned to build a museum of the Patriotic War in the Arsenal, for which, by 1819, captured pieces of artillery had been brought here and placed along the facades of the building. After the demolition in 1960 of the old Armoury, Russian guns mounted on carriages were also transferred here. At present, the guns are exhibits of the Moscow Kremlin Museums.
The Arsenal building itself now houses the barracks and administrative services of the Kremlin Commandant's Office. Along the facade, 875 trophy cannons were put down, won over by the Russian troops from Napoleon's army, of which 365 were French, the rest were Bonaparte's trophies.
Today, the building is occupied by the President’s regiment guarding the Kremlin.