The St. Nicholas Tower, on the northern side of the Kremlin near the State Historical Museum, was built in 1492, at the same time as the neighbouring Spasskaya Tower. A gateway once ran through the sturdy base of the tower, defended by a bastion and drawbridge. The tower's name stems from an Icon of St. Nicholas mounted above the gate. Traditionally, disputes and arguments were resolved beneath the icon.
The gate led to the boyars' mansions and the monastic buildings within the Kremlin.
In 1612, during the struggle with Polish interventionists, a Russian volunteer army led by Duke Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin burst through the gates of the tower to liberate the Kremlin from the enemy. In 1812 a section of the tower, including the roof, was destroyed by French troops. From 1816-1819, the tower was reconstructed, and the damaged roof replaced with a new Gothic one made of iron, with openwork details. Four white-stone corner turrets were added to the tower's base.
During the October Revolution the St. Nicholas Tower was badly damaged by artillery fire, but was repaired within a year.
The tower measures 70 meters including the red star erected in 1937.