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Metro logoA Self-Guided Tour
of the Moscow Metro

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To view any photo at full size, click on it. All photos are, unless otherwise stated, copyright Wayne and Patricia Primeau. All Rights Reserved.
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The first line "Sokolnichenskaya" (the red line on the Metro map) was opened on May 15, 1935. At that time the total length of the system was 11 km and it had 13 stations, from Sokolniki to Park Kultury. Now the line has 19 stations stretching from Yugo-Zapadnaya to Ulitsa Podbelskovo.

Kropotkinskaya stationKropotkinskaya on the red line, designed by architect Aleksei Dushkin (who also designed "Dyetsky Mir" - the Children's World department store at Lubyanka), is the most beautiful station on this line. It features clean lines and graceful columns ending in five-pointed stars on the ceiling. The station was built with an opulent use of fine marble to impress visitors to the Palace of Soviets which Stalin planned to erect on the site of the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The marble used to clad the graceful pillars and walls of the station was taken from the Cathedral when it was destroyed. (Marble from the cathedral was also used in the construction of Krasnaya Vorota and Kuznetsky Most stations).

Board a train at Kropotkinskaya heading toward the far end of the line at Ulitsa Podbelskovo. Travel for seven stops and get off at Komsomolskaya. Komsomolskaya is a connection point between the Red line and the Brown line or the Koltsevaya or Circle line. In the station on the Red line there is a mural dedicated to the heroic workers from the Komsomol, or Young Communist League, who built both stations so named.

Follow the signs to the Koltsevaya line, the Circle line. Construction on the Circle line began in 1944, and the line was opened in 1952. Geographically, it mirrors the above ground street system, lying just outside of the Garden Ring. The line is 19.2 km in length with 12 stations connecting to every other line and unifying the system. It also connects with seven out of the nine railway stations in the city. One quarter of all the passengers on the Metro travel on the Circle Line, making it by far the busiest line in the system. The stations on this line were the creations of some of the USSR's most talented architects, sculptors and artists, including: A Shchusev, V Guelfreikh, M Minkus, A Duchkin, P Korine and others. Komsomolskaya station received the Grand Prize at the International Exposition in Brussels in 1958.

Komsomolskaya station on the Circle line is thought by many to be the most beautiful station on the Metro. At 55 m in length, it is also the largest. The exterior of the building is crowned with a tall steeple and a five-pointed star. It was designed by the architect A. Shchusev, the designer of Lenin's mausoleum. Its show piece is the Hall of Victory, containing elements designed by architects Shchusev, Kokorine and Zabolotnaya. The ceiling is adorned with mosaic panels designed by Korine. In these panels we see a revival of ancient techniques, their first use in Moscow. Squares of marble and granite are used as well as squares of coloured glass to honour the greatest military victories of the Russian people by creating images of Russia's most exalted heroes: Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin, Dmitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Michael Kutuzov. Three additional panels glorify the achievements of the Soviet people during the Great Patriotic War: "The march of Soviet troops on November 7, 1941 on Red Square," "The taking of the Reichstag" and "Victory."

Board a train and travel two stops to Novoslobodskaya. Novoslobodskaya, also on the Brown or Circle line, designed by architects Dushkin and Strelkov, was opened in January 1952. This is my favourite station. The hall boasts a series of glowing stained glass panels incorporating floral motifs with depictions of the arts in Soviet life. These breathtaking panels were created in the studios of the Latvian Department of the Foundation for the Arts by Velandan, Krests and Ryskin, master craftsmen from Riga. At the end of the station is the motto "Peace to the whole world".

Byeloruskaya stationBoard a train and ride one stop to Byeloruskaya station on the Brown or Circle line. Byeloruskaya station, opened in 1952, celebrates the culture of Byelorussiya and the strong ties of brotherhood between the peoples of Russia and Byelorus in delightful ceiling panels of marble mosaic, moulded plaster panels, and sculpture. The mosaic panels, depicting Byelorussians in national dress engaged in their daily activities, were designed by Oprishko. The floor of the hall is also an intricate mosaic in a traditional Byelorussian pattern, and worthy of note. At the back of the hall, three heroic figures support the coat of arms of Soviet Byelorussia, bearing the emblem "Proletariat of all countries, unite."

Follow the signs to the Byeloruskaya station on the Green line or the Zamoskvoretskaya line. Take a train one stop to the Mayakovskaya station.

The Green or Zamoskvoretskaya line was not all constructed at the same time. Thus, its stations portray different periods in their decorative styles. Novokuznetskaya, Paveletskaya and Avtozavodskaya were built during the Great Patriotic War and reflect the heroism of the Soviet people in their struggle against fascism. In contrast, the newer stations serving the new residential neighbourhoods in the northwest and southeast of the city are decorated in a more austere contemporary style. The line is more than 30 km long, with 17 stations and five connections to other lines.

Mayakovskaya station, the jewel on the Green line, is one of the largest stations in the system. Designed by architect A Dushkin and opened in 1938, it received the Grand Prize at the International Exposition in New York in 1938. It was named for the great Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and contains a bust of its namesake. However, the station is best known for the mosaic panels decorating the ceiling of the hall. The mosaics were designed by Deineka on the theme "A Day in the land of Socialism" and are composed of squares of opaque coloured glass. The manner in which the idea is carried out is unique amongst the stations. Entering via the escalator at the beginning of the hall, one sees compositions in pale shades, the tones of morning light. As one progresses down the hall, the colours of the panels gradually shift to luminous midday sunlight, to late afternoon, to the deepening and more sombre hues of twilight and a restful evening. At the end, the sun again rises as a new day dawns. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Mayakovskaya station was the command post for municipal anti-aircraft batteries, and a communications hub between various regions in the city and the front.

Board a train and ride to Novokuznetskaya station. Novokuznetskaya station, on the Green line, was opened on November 20, 1943. The opening of a new Metro station at the height of the War was a sign of continuing normalcy in a time otherwise punctuated by chaos and fear. It was designed by Baranov and Bukov who relied heavily on the use of patriotic themes, and included for the first time, subjects from Russian history. The bas reliefs depict some of Russia's greatest military commanders, including: Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Minim, Pozharsky, Suvarov and Kutuzov. The mosaics, made of smalt (glass coloured with cobalt), were created in Leningrad during the siege, and were brought to Moscow by sailors of the Ladozkhaya fleet. Many of the materials used in the construction of this station were taken from the Church of Paraskeva Puatnitskaya, build in 1739, destroyed on orders of Stalin. The marble for the benches came from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, also destroyed by Stalin.

Board a train and ride back to Tverskaya and follow the signs to Chekhovskaya on the Light-grey Line. This modern station was opened in 1987 on the new Serpykhovsko-Timiryazebskaya Line. This line runs north and south to serve the newer residential complexes in the outlying regions of Moscow, and connects with six other lines through four junctions. Three major writers are (were) acclaimed in the halls of three of the stations on this line: Pushkinskaya (opened in 1975), Gorkovskaya (opened in 1979, now renamed Tverskaya), and Chekhovskaya. A majority of the new stations are more stark in their design, but it was decided that stations within the Circle should be more elaborate in keeping with stations from earlier periods.

The Chekhovskaya station is has a very modern feel and its decoration is a departure from the heavy Stalinist period. The station is located under Pushkin Square, indeed under the famous statue of Pushkin. Marble mosaics designed by Lyudmilla and Pyotr Shorchev call to mind the feeling of some of Chekhov's stories. Motifs include: flowers representing love and beauty in tribute to the author, a comfortable interior reminiscent of Chekhov's stage settings, a provincial town, cherry blossoms from his orchard, scenes from the Crimea. In the centre of the hall one can see stage curtains with lights and flowers, and at either end images depict Chekhov himself and the museum to his memory in Moscow.

Board a train and ride to Serpukhovskaya on the light grey line. Walk to the Brown or Circle line. Board a train and ride to Taganskaya. The theme of Taganskaya Station, opened in 1950, is the Great Patriotic War. The hall is a series of graceful marble archways separated by elaborate pale blue triangular frames glorifying the defenders of the Motherland - partisans, pilots, tank drivers, etc. In the centre of the cupola in the hall of escalators is an image of the Soviet Flag waving victoriously in a blue sky filled with bursting celebratory sky rockets.

Walk to the Yellow Line, and board a train to Aviamotornaya. Aviamotornaya is an excellent example of a station designed in the more modern style. Simplicity however, does not equate with lack of style. Here we find an uncluttered look enhanced with touches of luxury in the decorative gold canopy and the silver sculptures at each end of the hall.

Board a train and ride to Chkalovskaya and walk to Kurskaya on the Brown or Circle line. Kurskaya station boasts a hall of greater simplicity than many on the Circle line, flanked by marble columns separated by flattened arches leading to the trains on either side. In the centre of the hall of escalators, a huge vase decorated with intricate reliefs reaches for the ceiling.

Walk to Kurskaya on the dark blue line. Board a train and ride to Ploschad Revolutsii on the dark blue line. Ploschad Revolutsii was opened on 13 March 1938. It was constructed as a "palace of the people" in the first section of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line. Conceived by Dushkin, the hall has a vaulted ceiling lined by marble arches. The columns form niches which contain 76 bronze sculptures depicting the creators of the new socialist order: collective farm workers, factory workers and miners, soldiers and sailors, parents and children, ordinary citizens of the USSR. These figures were made by Manzier, a sculptor popular during the Stalin era. The station has a distinct military flavour even though it was opened well before the outbreak of the war. This recurring theme of a threat to the USSR was used by the state to justify Stalin's myriad purges. His reign of terror was a fact of Soviet life during the period that this station was under construction.

The tour ends at Ploschad Revolutsii. From here, one can continue on the dark blue line to Ismailovsky Park to visit the Vernisazh craft market (open Saturday and Sunday), visit Lenin's mausoleum (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 1 PM) or one may exit the metro to visit Red Square, GUM, and the new Ohotny Riad underground shopping complex.

Other stations of interest: blue bar

This tour was put together in 2001 by Patricia Primeau, for use by the staff of the Embassy of Canada in Moscow. Please feel free to use it when you visit Moscow.
The information was compiled from the following sources:
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Links to our Russia section

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This page was updated on 26 November 2007.

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