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The Arsenal, initially commissioned by Peter the Great in 1702, has suffered a checkered history. It was originally intended as a military store and museum of armaments. The construction of this enormous building took many years, and was interrupted by the Russo-Swedish War. Eventually completed in 1736, it was badly damaged by fire only one year later. The long process of rebuilding, supervised by architect Matvei Kazakov, was only finished in 1796. But that was not the end of the building's misfortunes: In 1812, Napoleon's troops, when fleeing Moscow, blew up the Arsenal, among other buildings, and it was only fully reconstructed in 1828.
Surprisingly, despite all the upheavals, the existing building follows the plans of the original blueprints almost exactly. It is in the form of an elongated trapezium, surrounding a large courtyard. The solid brick walls of the two-storey facades are seemingly sliced through by two rows of double arches.
After the Napoleonic Wars, it was once more the intention to house a museum here, and to this end captured enemy cannons were gathered and placed in rows beneath the Arsenal walls. Much later, in 1960, Russian guns were also moved here. They are still arranged along the walls, like a living memory of past battles. The building is now used as a barracks.