The collection of sumptuous armour behind the ceremonial facade of this 19th century building is unparalleled. Among its most prized possessions is Monomakh's Cap, an early 14th century skullcap adorned with gold, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, trimmed with sable, and topped with a golden cross.
Legend has it that Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus offered it to his grandson, the Grand Prince Vladimir Monomakh of Russia. Another telling traces it to Uzbeg, the longest reigning khan of the Golden Horde. Whether Byzantium or Central Asian, it has been duplicated twice.
First, in 1662, for the joint-Tsar reign of the chronically ill Ivan and the ten-year-old Piotr (the future Peter the Great), the two younger brothers of Tsar Fyodor Alexeyevich, who died without descendants. The second time was in 2002, when Russian jewellers thought it a good idea to offer the Russian president a copy of this autocrat's symbol. The piece quickly sold for $50,000 USD (some stones were false).
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