The splendors of the grand style: the Stalinist Empire monuments virtual guide appeared

January 12
Tourism and travels

Within the Architectural Styles of Moscow cycle, the Discover Moscow travel portal tells about some of the most majestic buildings in the capital — monuments of the Stalinist Empire. This style prevailed from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s.

The legacy of the so-called grand style era still impresses Muscovites and tourists, creates a unique architectural look of the city. Visitors of site will find out who designed the famous Moscow skyscrapers, the Northern River Station and the building of the Central Academic Theater of the Russian Army, as well as at which metro stations you can find features of the Stalinist Empire. It is worth noting that this trend in architecture is very eclectic and combines elements of Renaissance, Baroque, Empire of the Napoleonic era, Late Classicism, Post-Constructivism, Art Deco, as well as Neo-Gothic.

Admire the skyscrapers and pop in the VDNKh

First, the portal recommends the most famous seven sisters in Moscow for looking at. This is the name of high-rises, including the Leningradskaya and Ukraina hotels, the building of the Lomonosov Moscow State University on Vorobyovy Gory, houses on Kudrinskaya Square, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment, as well as an administrative and residential building on Krasnye Vorota Square and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building on Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square.

Famous architects of their time — Mikhail Posokhin, Boris Iofan, Dmitry Chechulin —were involved in their construction, and the location of the buildings was chosen taking into account the specific characteristics: high-rises had to be clearly visible from different points of the city.

Some projects began to be implemented before the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, but the construction was completed after its end. In many ways, the aesthetics of high-rise buildings determined the new course of Moscow positioning — the monumental capital of the victor country.

But despite the similar silhouettes, each of them turned out to be unique: in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building architecture you can see details of New York Neo-Gothic, and the hipped roofs of the high-rise on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment refer to Russian architecture and resemble elements of the Moscow Kremlin towers.

The next place to be get acquainted with the Stalinist Empire style may be the territory of VDNKh. The architectural ensemble of the country's main exhibition was designed to reflect all the greatness of the Soviet Union. The arch of the main entrance and the pavilions were specially conceived to be so monumental.

The hallmark of the style is traditionally considered to be Pavilion No. 1 ‘Central’: a monumental three-tiered structure with a golden star was built in 1954 — for the post-war re-opening of the exhibition. The facade of the building is framed by a colonnade, which is decorated with stucco festoon and bas-reliefs of the coats of arms of the Soviet republics, the second tier is distinguished by neoclassical forms, and the building is crowned by a characteristic spire with a five-pointed star.

Another example of this monumental style is the building of the Central Academic Theater of the Russian Army (formerly the departmental Theater of the Armed Forces of the USSR). It was building from 1934 to 1940. From above, the building has the shape of a five-pointed star. Along the perimeter it is decorated with a colonnade. The author of the project was architect Karo Alabyan. The theater interiors fully correspond to its external appearance. They are equally majestic and monumental: painted frescoes on the ceilings, magnificent chandeliers in the halls and huge decorative plafonds in the foyer.

Find the Stalinist Empire in the metro and at the Northern River Station

Stalinist Empire inherited the features of Classicism, Baroque and Art Deco. You can find them in the interiors of the platform halls and the design of ground lobbies at the first metro stations. Thus, the influence of Baroque and Classicism can be seen in the design of the Komsomolskaya station lobby on the Circle Line (1952) — the station with stucco-decorated arches and lush mosaic panels was conceived as the entrance gate of the capital. In the interiors of another landmark station of Stalin's times — Mayakovskaya (1938) — you can find Art Deco elements: metal enframement of columns and an abundance of smooth lines.

Photo by Maxim Denisov,

Another impressive monument of architecture in the Stalinist Empire style is the Northern River Station. Its ensemble was erecting from 1933 to 1937. By shape, the station building turned out to be looked like a ship with a pipe in the form of a spire. Two arched galleries joined the main building, and the North and South fountains with sculptures of dolphins and polar bears have fleshed out the appearance.

The large-scale restoration of the Northern River Station was completed in the fall of 2020. Before that, the station had been idle for a long time, the building was in disrepair. Now it not only handles passengers during the navigation season, but is also a cultural center where concerts, exhibitions and other events take place.

Photo by Yevgeny Samarin,

The new tourist portal Discover Moscow was launched in July 2021. The site contains useful information necessary for a comfortable trip to the capital. Tourists can find out here about useful city services, read about interesting events that take place in Moscow, find information about various attractions, watch online excursions and make a virtual walking route taking into account their tastes and preferences. All information is presented in three languages: Russian, English and Chinese.

Visitors of portal can also find out about landmark buildings in the Constructivism and Modernism style in the previous materials of the Architectural Styles of Moscow cycle.


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