Tsardom (1547—1721)

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the three circular defenses were built: Kitay-gorod, the White City and the Earthen City 

The heyday of the Kremlin. All Saints Bridge and the Kremlin at the end of the 17 century
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However, in 1547, two fires destroyed much of the town, and in 1571 the Crimean Tatars captured Moscow, burning everything except the Kremlin. The annals record that only 30,000 of 200,000 inhabitants survived.

The Crimean Tatars attacked again in 1591, but this time were held back by new defense walls, built between 1584 and 1591 by a craftsman named Fyodor Kon. In 1592, an outer earth rampart with 50 towers was erected around the city, including an area on the right bank of the Moscow River. As an outermost line of defense, a chain of strongly fortified monasteries was established beyond the ramparts to the south and east, principally the Novodevichy Convent and Donskoy, Danilov, Simonov, Novospasskiy, and Andronikov monasteries, most of which now house museums. From its ramparts, the city became poetically known as Bielokamennaya, the «White-Walled». The limits of the city as marked by the ramparts built in 1592 are now marked by the Garden Ring.

The heyday of the Kremlin. All Saints Bridge and the Kremlin at the end of the 17 century
pinterest button The heyday of the Kremlin. All Saints Bridge and the Kremlin at the end of the 17 century Apollinary Vasnetsov^ 1922, CC BY-SA 3.0

Three square gates existed on the eastern side of the wall, which in the 17th century, were known as: Konstantino-Eleninsky, Spassky, Nikolsky (owing their names to the icons of Constantine and Helen, the Savior and St. Nicholas which hung over them). The last two were directly opposite the Red Square, while the Konstantino-Elenensky gate was located behind Saint Basil's Cathedral.

The Russian famine of 1601 — 1603 killed perhaps 100,000 in Moscow. From 1610 through 1612, troops of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied Moscow, as its ruler Sigismund III tried to take the Russian throne. In 1612, the people of Nizhny Novgorod and other Russian cities conducted by prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin rose against the Polish occupants, besieged the Kremlin, and expelled them. In 1613, the Zemsky sobor elected Michael Romanov tsar, establishing the Romanov dynasty.

Saint Basil's Cathedral
pinterest button Saint Basil's Cathedral David Crawshaw, GNU 1.2

During the first half of the 17th century, the population of Moscow doubled from roughly 100,000 to 200,000. It expanded beyond its ramparts in the later 17th century. By 1682, there were 692 households established north of the ramparts, by Ukrainians and Belarusians abducted from their hometowns in the course of Russo-Polish War (1654–1667). These new outskirts of the city came to be known as the Meshchanskaya sloboda, after Ruthenian meshchane «town people». The term meshchane (мещане) acquired pejorative connotations in 18th-century Russia and today means «petty bourgeois» or «narrow-minded philistine».

The entire city of the late 17th century, including the slobodas which grew up outside of the city ramparts, are contained within what is today Moscow's Central Administrative Okrug.

Numerous disasters befell the city. The plague killed upwards of 80% of the people in 1654-55. Fires burned out much of the wooden city in 1626 and 1648.