Historic Moscow: metro stations
This past weekend I took a mini-vacation to Moscow to see my parents. It was a nice mix of lazy family time and slightly obscure sight-seeing.
I was in Moscow for a week this summer and got to see all the typical touristy sites such as the Red Square, the Kremlin, and Lenin’s tomb. So, this time around I wanted to get a better feel of regular Moscow as opposed to touristy Moscow. To me, this meant a journey through the underground.
Beginning in 1902, the government started working on plans to solve city transit problems. People wanted to get around faster and the electric trams that were introduced weren’t doing enough to allow for adequate mass transit.
Only in 1931 however, was the first underground tunnel constructed. This was made especially difficult because a geological survey revealed a diverse array of soil types making tunnel-digging questionable. Finally, on May 15, 1935 the metro system was up and running for public use.
But this history of difficult dirt and delayed construction wasn’t what intrigued me about Moscow’s metros. What drew me to them was their exquisite architecture and decoration.
Up until the 1950s, the metro stations were designed to be luxurious “palaces for the people.” The photos below are examples of such architecture. The Mayakovskaya station’s ceilings are adorned by mosaics and the station is nicknamed the 24-hour Soviet Sky.
Another station from this period is Ploshchad Revolutsii station which apparently has 76 bronze statues of soviet men and women. I didn’t take the time to count them though so you’ll have to take Google’s word for it. If you rub the nose of the dog you get good luck. Sadly I forgot to do this. Whoops!
However, once the Communist Party announced that extravagence in design and construction was to end, the metro stations became dull and bare. The working slogan was “kilometres at the expense of architecture.” Needless to say I didn’t stop at these stations as I’ve had my share of bad 1960s Montreal metro stations and wanted to indulge in the ornately decorated ones.