Neo-Russian ensemble: Architectural landmark status for Rizhsky Station

January 24

The architectural ensemble of the Rizhsky Railway Station is now listed as a regional cultural landmark. It ranks among the most significant architectural masterpieces and traditionally has always fascinated people in the city including tourists. The state will now focus on protecting both its external and interior features. The ensemble includes the passenger railway station’s building at 1 Rizhskaya Square and the nearby former Transport Museum building at 3 Rizhskaya Square. Today, it accommodates the Centre of Science and Technological Information and Libraries and the Innovation Development Centre with an exhibition hall.

The Rizhsky Railway Station embodies the Russian Revival or Neo-Russian style and has ancient Russian architectural features. A good example is its façades with arched niches decorated with coiled and smooth semi-columns with beading, as well as numerous diverse friezes (decorative belts). Window and door openings are rimmed with carved jambs, Kokoshnik decorative finishing of vault roofing and drop ornaments.

Located on Rizhskaya Square, the railway station was built in 1899 during the construction of the Moscow-Vindava Railway Line. It linked Central Russia with the ice-free Baltic ports. Until the mid-1930s, the facility was called the Vindava Railway Station after Latvia’s Vindava City, now Ventspils. It was later renamed the Baltic Railway Station and the Rzhev Railway Station in 1942. The station received its current name in 1946. 

The Moscow-Vindava-Rybinsk Company built the Moscow-Vindava Railway. Architect Stanislav Brzozowski designed the railway station’s building. Another architect named Yuly Diederichs implemented the construction project and modified the initial design.

“The railway station’s building consists of three two-storey sections resembling ancient Russian palaces with intricate windows and clocks above the tall Kokoshnik decorative finishing of vault roofing. Single-story passageways link the building’s central section and the side wings. The main section houses the luggage department’s hallway and halls for first-class and second-class passengers. The right wing housed the main lobby, and a waiting room for third-class passengers was located in the left wing,” said Alexei Yemelyanov, Head of the Moscow Department of Cultural Heritage. The railway station had the most advanced equipment of that period, including a generator that powered the inside lighting and that of the platforms 24 hours a day. The station officially opened on 11 September 1901.

By 1917, the Vindava Railway Station handled passengers via northwestern railways and linked Moscow and St Petersburg with the Estland, Liefland and Courland gubernias (regions), as well as Vitebsk, Grodno, Warsaw and other cities in the Russian Empire’s western regions.

In the late 1920s, the railway station’s warehouse for short-term freight storage was replaced with the two-storey Transport Museum building at 3 Rizhskaya Square. It is located next to the railway station building at 1 Rizhskaya Square.

The museum building also has the less lavishly decorated pseudo-Russian façades. In the early 1990s, the railway station’s building was adapted to modern usage. The main entrance’s porch was expanded, and a ramp was also added. The ceiling’s artistic plasterwork and chandeliers were restored using technical drawings from the archives. All the wooden floors and ceilings, as well as their décor, were retained in the main halls.

The building was done up in 2007, with workers improving the façades and reinforcing load-bearing structures. They also retained historical décor features.

“Rizhsky Railway Station is protected by the state as it’s listed as a cultural landmark. This means that the passenger railway station’s building, as well as the adjacent museum, cannot be taken down. The structures can only be restored under the strict supervision of specialists from our department,” Mr Yemelyanov noted.

The city is constantly trying to preserve and do up architectural landmarks. The list of cultural heritage landmarks continues to get longer. About 700 facilities have been given such a status over the past seven years. This includes over 370 newly-registered cultural heritage landmarks and about 330 federal and regional cultural heritage landmarks.


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