1  Kropotkinskaya

One of the first Moscow Metro stations, it was originally envisioned as the underground lobby of the Palace of the Soviets, a never-built enormous skyscraper. Architects Alexey Dushkin and Yakov Lichtenberg designed the station after ancient Egyptian temples: the column capitals that widen upwards, concealing lamps installed within, contribute to the underground hall’s majestic appearance, and bring to mind the sites of Luxor and Karnak. Soviet executive Lazar Kaganovich, who supervised the construction, was not happy with such a source of inspiration, but Dushkin managed to convince him, stating that the palatial architecture that had once been reserved exclusively for pharaohs, would please the eyes of workers.

2 Mayakovskaya

This station is widely considered the most beautiful in the Moscow Metro; indeed, Alexey Dushkin created an undoubted masterpiece of Art Deco. The fine arches of corrugated steel, the columns trimmed with the most expensive types of decorative stone, the coffered ceiling perfused with radiance – each architectural element of the station contributes to its uniform style. The centerpiece of Mayakovskaya is its series of glass tesserae mosaics, made after sketches by Alexander Deineka.

3 Ploshchad Revolyutsii

This station, opened in 1938, features a total of 76 bronze sculptures depicting soldiers, seamen, border guards, paratroopers, workers, and other figures. Some of them are believed to bring good luck if you touch them, so very often you can see people rubbing the revolver held by one of the seamen or stroking the cockerel next to the peasant woman and make a wish. However, the poor border guard’s dog has it the worst by far – its incessantly rubbed, shiny nose has already started to lose its shape.

4 Dobryninskaya

This station was originally named Serpukhovskaya, after the old Russian city of Serpukhov, which is why its architectural style is rife with ancient Russian motifs. Its most interesting feature, however, are the three mosaics in the entrance hall: one of them depicts participants of a march carrying a portrait of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, – despite the fact that the station opened in 1950, 11 years before Gagarin’s flight took place. The reason is simple: it used to be a portrait of Joseph Stalin, but his face was removed after his personality cult was denounced by the Soviet government in the mid-1950’s, and Gagarin’s face was added during the 1960’s.

5 Vorobyovy Gory

Thanks to an audacious engineering solution, the Moscow Metro obtained an extraordinary station. Vorobyovy Gory is located on a bridge, constructed specifically to accommodate it – there are no other stations in Russia like it. From its southern entrance you can walk up to the main building of Moscow State University, while the northern one is close to Luzhniki Stadium. Thanks to its panoramic windows, passengers can enjoy the view of the Moskva River, Vorobyovy Gory, and Luzhniki Stadium. The spacious, well-lit main hall of the station is sometimes used to hold art exhibitions.

6 Slavyansky Bulvar

One of the rare and precious examples of the Art Nouveau style in the Moscow Metro is Slavyansky Bulvar. The station’s lush interior, with its forged steel leaves-and-branches motifs, lamps shaped as swaying trees, ornate script of the station’s name on the walls, and the combination of green marble and black granite, brings to mind the Silver Age of Russian poetry and the famous entrances to the Paris Métro, created by Hector Guimard.

7 Novoslobodskaya

Dim light, breathtaking flowers and patterns, and extravagant motifs: this flight of architectural fancy by Alexey Dushkin is all about fairytales. Novoslobodskaya opened in 1952, at a time when the Muscovites had not yet fully recovered from the hardships of World War II, so the station’s designers wanted to cheer the passengers up with that loveliness. The stained glass panels were designed by Russian artist Pavel Korin and made by Latvian artisans who used glass kept in Riga Cathedral.

8 Vystavochnaya

This station doubles as an exhibition center and is often used to present new art projects. The upper level of Vystavochnaya houses the Career Center of the Moscow Metro, a modern museum space. Its permanent exhibition features the rarities of the Metro and films about its history; in addition to this, it is where most guided station tours start. And thanks to a variety of interactive training devices, any visitor can try their hand in operating a metro train or controlling the traffic.

Record holders

  • The longest station of the Moscow Metro is Vorobyovy Gory; its platform is 284 meters long.
  • Park Pobedy is the deepest station in Moscow, situated at 84 meters underground. It also holds records for the longest escalator in Moscow (126.8 m) and the highest ascent (63.4 m).
  • The longest stretch of railroad track in the Moscow Metro is located between Krylatskoye and Strogino stations; a train takes 7 minutes to cover the distance of 6,625 meters.
  • Okhotny Ryad holds the record for being renamed most times. Since its opening in 1935, the station’s name had changed four times. It used to be called Prospekt Marksa at some point, and bore the name of Lazar Kaganovich for a couple of years, but its original – and current – name was restored each time, most recently in 1990.
  • Kotelniki station (opened in 2015) has exits in three different cities, as it is located at the junction of Moscow and the cities of Lyubertsy and Kotelniki.

More to see

  • The only fountain of the Moscow Metro is located at Rimskaya station.
  • The walls of many stations tiled with rock actually contain visible fossils. Millenia-old belemnites, ammonites, and nautiluses now adorn Dobryninskaya, Park Pobedy, and Borovitskaya stations.
  • Komsomolskaya station of the Koltsevaya line has the only image of a Christian icon in the Moscow Metro. The mosaics of the station, created by Pavel Korin, are dedicated to Russia’s military victories; one of them depicts Alexander Nevsky’s and Dmitry Donskoy’s regiments bearing a banner with the Not-Made-by-Hands image of the Savior.
  • The ceiling of Novokuznetskaya station is adorned with mosaics brought from the besieged Leningrad via the Road of Life during WWII. These were the last works by the great mosaicist Vladimir Frolov who decorated the Naval Cathedral of Kronstadt, the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood of Saint Petersburg, as well as Kievsky railway terminal and Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow.

Text: Text Dmitry Ivanov

Published on: August 24, 2018