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In the middle of the 12th century, Prince Yury Dolgoruky set up fortifications on the high bank of the Moskva river. Strong wooden walls and towers of the Kremlin were needed to defend the growing settlement in the days when Moscow was uniting the Russian lands. The little Russian town grew rapidly and by the 14th century became the center of the Russian principalities. During the reign of Ivan III, the Kremlin grounds were extended to their present area and surrounded by new brick walls. Traders and craftsmen settled nearby in Kitai-Gorod. Magnificent cathedrals and churches were created around the city.
In 1712 the capital was moved from Moscow to St. Petersburg. 25 years later a devastating fire destroyed many wooden buildings in and around the Kremlin. Moscow witnessed Napoleon's troops marching through its streets and causing more damage to its buildings. After the war of 1812 all the historical monuments of the Kremlin were restored.
In 1918 the new Bolshevik government moved from Petrograd to Moscow. Ancient Moscow became the capital of the new Red Russia. Large-scale construction before and after the Second World War changed the face of the city.
There are over 10 million people living in Moscow today. It is an impressive, modern city. At the same time a great deal has been done to restore and preserve the historical and architectural monuments.