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Palace for the People: Moscow metro guide

A bit of history, interesting facts and life hacks will help you get maximum pleasure and avoid most of the inconveniences while exploring the Moscow metro. And besides, this article will help you to impress with your knowledge people you are traveling with!

How it all began

The first thing you should know about the metro in the Russian capital is that it is not just a simple mean of transport. Visit its most beautiful and unusual stations and see for yourself!

The Moscow metro is a monument of architecture, arts and crafts, as well as the ideology of the past era.

The world-famous underground began to be built after the terrible traffic jam that occurred in Moscow on January 6, 1931. This may seem unusual to you, but the fact remains: the population of the city after the October revolution literally doubled in a decade, and the ground transport was not able to cope with it. Trams, buses, taxis and even cabs did not work in the city on that ill-fated day, so the Moscow authorities decided to build an underground transportation system.

The first test train in the history of the national metro moved along the "Komsomolskaya” station of the very first (Red) line on October 15, 1934; and the first train with passengers departed from the "Sokolniki" station on May 15, 1935.

On the same day, May 15, 1935, the first 13 stations opened and the famous symbol of the Moscow Metro - the red letter M, appeared.

The motto of the metro was "Create a Palace for the People!” and the architecture of the first stations is particularly monumental and solemn. "Ploshchad Revolutsii", "Mayakovskaya", “Teatralnaya" stations can be called real masterpieces of architecture. In 1939, the project of “Mayakovskaya” won Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in New York.

Make your own route through the iconic metro stations!

The most beautiful stations

Here you can find the most famous sign of the Moscow metro - the happy dog! If you stroke the nose of the bronze dog of The Border Guard with a Dog sculpture, luck will not take long to wait. So, as you can guess, the poor pet’s face is rubbed to shine.

The drawings for the Mayakovskaya mosaics were created by Alexander Deyneka, one of the icons of social realism. The station was named after the great poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and the its engineer, Alexey Dushkin, while designing the innovative constructive solutions, asked his wife to play him Bach and Prokofiev again and again, for the inspiration. And it is not just one of the most beautiful stations of the Moscow metro. It was the Mayakovskaya station that became center of the underground life and main bomb shelter during the Great Patriotic war: 50 thousand people could hide here!

The main theme of the station's magnificent decoration by the famous architect Shchusev is the victory in the Great Patriotic War. The sculptural forms and floral ornament frame eight majestic mosaic panels. They depict portraits of great Russian generals, as well as "Triumph of Victory" and "Lenin's Speech on Red Square” scenes.

One of the entrances to the Kievskaya station was designed by French architects in the spirit of the first stations of the Paris Metro of 1900-1910. The return gift of the Moscow metro was the "Motley Pullet” stained-glass window installed at the Madeleine station in Paris.

Continuing the theme of Paris, Slavyanskiy Bulvar station is also decorated in the spirit of the French capital subway. The Art Nouveau platform is a kind of boulevard with trees and forged iron lanterns.

Stained glass windows of the station were created by Latvian artists. In their work they used glass kept in the Riga Cathedral and intended for churches.

The most sportive station is located near the famous Dynamo stadium. The lining is made of marble, where you can see a lot of fossils of marine organisms of the Cretaceous period! There are especially many corals there, but one can also find fossilized shells of gastropods and brachiopods as well. In addition to impressive antiquities, the station is also decorated with 60 porcelain medallions depicting athletes who exercise in 21 sports. Discus, rock climbing, skiing, gymnastics, figure skating... Real people served as prototypes for some of the bas-reliefs.

Of course, we have listed only some of the stations that deserve your attention. "Pushkinskaya", "Elektrozavodskaya", "Prospect Mira", "Smolenskaya", "Taganskaya", "Park Pobedi" and several others are also worth noting about, but one cannot embrace the unembraceable!

By the way, if you are really interested in the Moscow metro, we recommend visiting its own Museum. It is located at the Vystavochnaya metro station (4th, Filevskaya line), exit to the Afimall City shopping center, inside the vocational guidance center. Here you can get acquainted with the equipment, tickets and uniforms of metro workers of different years, see old metro schemes and photos, and even practice on train driver simulator. Entrance to the Museum is free!

Moscow metro Records

“Vorobyovy Gory” is the only Moscow metro station and the first metro station in the world located on the bridge over the river.

“Krasiniye Vorota" was the first station of the Moscow metro equipped with turnstiles (1952). Before that, the inspectors manually tore off and composted paper tickets.

“Park Pobedi” is the deepest station of the Moscow metro (73 meters) with the longest escalators (126 meters). And one of he deepest stations of the former USSR.

“Prazhskaya” is the quietest station of the Moscow metro. It is because of special kind of ceramic tiles lining the walls of the station. The tile contains numerous air pores that absorb sound.

Let us name the upcoming record as well: The second ring line of the Moscow metro will be 66 kilometers long and will become the longest in the world, overtaking the current champion - the 57-kilometer long line of the Beijing metro.

Interesting facts about the metro

  • Moscow metro is being built very fast! 60 new stations have been built since 2010 to allow the multi-million populations to move comfortably around the city. And 35 new ones are to be launched by 2020. 

  • Moscow metro has two “Arbatskaya" and two “Smolenskaya” stations. This happened due to the fact that in 1941 an air bomb hit the tunnel and it was decided to build the same stations at a greater depth. But after some time the old stations were restored and opened.

  • While moving to the city center, the metro stations are announced by a male voice, and when travelling from the center the announcements are made by a female voice. And in case with the Koltsevaya line, the issue was resolved by making male voice announcements when the train moves clockwise, and female voice announcements when the train moves counterclockwise. Both in Russian and in English. 

  • In the stone lining of stations and subways, one can find fossilized ecosystems, coral reefs, sponges, shells of a wide variety of mollusks, echinoderm skeletons and sea urchin needles.

  • There are no litter bins in the metro. They were there until the early 1990s. But later removed as a measure of protection against terrorism.

  • The gloomy Moscow metro station is "Dostoevskaya" (10th, light green line). As you already understood, it was named in honor of the great Russian writer, author of the world famous Crime and Punishment, Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov, and other novels. Dostoevsky is also considered a philosopher (and even the ancestor of existentialism). The design of the station is made mainly in gray, dark colors with mosaics depicting scenes from his works, including scenes of murders. After the opening of the station, many found it overly gloomy, provoking depression and even evoking thoughts of suicide. In response to these complaints, the creator of mosaics, artist Ivan Nikolaev said:

  • “To reflect the Dostoevsky theme, we should to comply with the depth and the tragedy of his work. During the FIFA 2018 World Cup Moscow metro made a list of the most popular and unusual questions asked by foreign fans to the staff at the information desks. Most of all we liked the following ones: "Where does Lenin sleep?", "Will you marry me?", "If I have an unlimited ticket for a day, can I spend the night in the subway?".

Metro life hacks

To travel you can buy a card for one or two trips, but it is more profitable to buy a 20-trip card which makes a trip cost 38 rubles instead of 55.

Or get a Troika card, which allows pay for any number of trips at a price of 36 rubles per trip. Travel tickets are used on all types of public transport in Moscow: metro, bus, trolleybus, tram and Moscow Central Ring.

While going down or up on the escalator, stand on the left, and walk on the right side. Both sides of the escalator are occupied by the passengers only during rush hour.

Get directions using the special Yandex.Metro app! This will help you find the quickest route from point A to point B.

Forgotten belongings (not only in the subway, but also in buses, trolleybuses and trams) should be searched at the Kotelniki station. In the East lobby (the first car from the center) there is a warehouse where the lost things are brought and stored for six months. Except for the passports and other documents; those are immediately they are sent to the police. Warehouse is open daily from 08:00 to 20:00 Inquiry desk: +7 (495) 622-20-85, +7 (915) 293-06-25, +7 (495) 950-40-64.

And finally, do not forget to read our article about the Moscow transport


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