Friday, May 20, 2016

Moscow - Metro Lines & Beautiful Underground Stations

Date: 24th October 2015

It’s important to note that a visit to any of 200 Moscow Metro Stations and taking a short ride to any destination of the 12 dedicated Moscow Metro Lines is a must do activity to all tourist. For the record, the Moscow Metro is also the busiest metro system outside of Asia and the 5th longest in the world as of now. The Moscow Metro is a rapid transit system serving Moscow city and the neighbouring Moscow Oblast towns of Krasnogorsk, Reutov and Kotelniki. It was opened in 1935 with the first 11 kilometre line and 13 stations, being the first underground railway system in the Soviet Union. As a comparison, the first Paris Metro line was opened in the year 1900, July 19.

The most beautiful station, all above 200 stations, Mayakovskaya 

Bas-relief by G.I. Motovilov entitled "The Defenders of Russia" at Smolenskaya Station on Line 4

As of 2016, the Moscow Metro has 200 stations and its route length is 333.3 km consist of 12 Lines. The system is mostly underground, with the deepest section recorded is at 73.6 metres depth, at the “Park Pobedy” station, one of the world’s deepest underground station. For information, Metro station “Abbesses” at 40 meters depth is the deepest underground metro station in Paris which we visited in 2014. The Moscow Metro was one of the USSR’s most extravagant architectural projects with the intention of building palaces for the people. The project was built when Stalin was in power, the metro’s artists and architects went about designing stations that were to epitomize the Russian word ‘svet’, meaning radiance and brilliance and ‘svetloe budushchee’ means a radiant future. This project was used an opportunity to showcase the country’s power. With their reflective marble walls, high ceilings and grandiose chandeliers, many of Moscow’s Metro stations are likened to famous European palaces.

As well as being one of the most efficient and cheapest underground transit systems in the world, the Moscow Metro is also undoubtedly one of the most beautiful. The brainchild of the tsars but finally put into action by Stalin, whose idea to make the city’s metro stations “palaces for the people” has translated into some truly spectacular, subterranean architectural gems. It’s possible to spend an entire day or more travelling the metro and exploring the vast array of ornate stations; each constructed and decorated in its own unique way. Here are few with 2 photos each, of the stations that we visited during that short period of time, out of Moscow’s 200 stations.

1. Mayakovskaya Station seated on Line 2, i.e. the Zamoskvoretskaya Line which is within the Tverskoy District of central Moscow. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful station in the system, a fine example of pre-World War II Stalinist Architecture and one of the most famous Metro stations in the world. The name as well as the design is a reference to Futurism and its prominent Russian exponent Vladimir Mayakovsky. The station was built as part of the second stage of the Moscow Metro expansion, opening on 11 September 1938. It is located 33 meters beneath the surface and became famous during World War II when an air raid shelter was located in the station. Alexey Dushkin's Art Deco architecture was based on a Soviet future as envisioned by the poet Mayakovsky. The station features streamlined columns faced with stainless steel and pink rhodonite, white Ufaley and grey Diorite marble walls, a flooring pattern of white and pink marble, and 35 niches, one for each vault. Surrounded by filament lights there are a total of 34 ceiling mosaics by Alexander Deyneka with the theme "24-Hour Soviet Sky."

A beauty of Mayakovskaya Station, named after the poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky

2. Smolenskaya Station is on Line 3 or the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line. It was built in 1953 to replace an older station of the same name. That older station however was later reopened as part of the Filyovskaya Line which is on Line 4 but the two stations are not connected. Smolenskaya has square of white marble columns with fluted corners, decorative cornices, and ventilation grilles concealed behind ornamental sconces. At the end of the platform is a bas-relief by G.I. Motovilov entitled "The Defenders of Russia," which depicts soldiers of the Red Army in battle. The architects of the station were Igor Rozhin and G. P. Yakovlev. It is located at 50 m below the surface, Smolenskaya was the deepest station on the line until 50 years later where Park Pobedy was opened in 2003.

3. Ploschad Revolyutsii located on Line 3 is indeed an impressive station. It was opened in 1938, features no less than 76 magnificent bronze statues of soldiers, farmers, schoolchildren, workers and a whole host of other characters who helped “defend the Soviet nation”. One of the statues, a dog, is said to bring good luck to those who rub its nose, so make sure you rub the dog nose if you found it. Ploschad Revolyutsii is at the last stop of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line (Line 3). It is the best stop for visiting Red Square, means you may access to the surface at this station. The station was opened in 1938. The architect responsible for the magnificent works was Alexey Dushkin. The station features red and yellow marble arches resting on low pylons faced with black Armenian marble. The spaces between the arches are partially filled by decorative ventilation grilles and ceiling tracery. Each arch is flanked by a pair of bronze sculptures by Matvey Manizer depicting the people of the Soviet Union, including soldiers, farmers, athletes, writers, aviators, industrial workers, and schoolchildren, 76 sculptures altogether.

4. Paveletskaya Station is also on the Zamoskvoretskaya Line 2 of Zamoskvorechye District, Central Administrative Okrug. It was opened in 1943 and was designed by S.V. Lyashchenko and E.S. Demchenko. Paveletskaya features a tall white marble pillars decorated with the hammer and sickle and a high, arched ceiling. The walls are faced with white marble. Paveletskaya was originally built to a design by Alexey Dushkin as a temporary deep, i.e. 33.5 meters underground as pylon station without a central hall. But it was converted as a fully functional station commencing in 1950 and the station was reopened February 21, 1953. We may still see fragments of original pylons that were left retained in the southern end of the station. The rest of it has been expanded to a spacious column type hall of the same structure as Mayakovskaya. Bronze-coloured inserts with hammer and sickle motive, the sole example of figurative art in this station, were actually painted ceramic castings.

5. Teatralnaya Station is another underground station on Line 2, named for the nearby Teatralnaya Square, the location of numerous theaters, including the famed Bolshoi Theatre. The station is unique in the sense that it does not have its own entrance halls. The north escalator leads to Okhotniy Ryad and the south escalator to Ploshchad Revolyutsii. Teatralnaya Station has fluted pylons faced with labradorite and white marble taken from the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Crystal lamps in bronze frames attached to the center of the room that give the central hall its festive appearance. The vault of the central hall is decorated with caissons and majolica bas-reliefs by Natyla Danko on the theme of theatre arts of the USSR, manufactured by Leningrad Porcelain Factory. These bas-reliefs are a series of 14 different figures, each representing music and dance from various nationalities of the Soviet Union. Seven male and seven female figures attired in their national costumes are either performing an ethnic dance or are playing a distinctively ethnic musical instrument. The series included Armenia, Byelorussia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Each figure is reproduced 4 times for a total of 56 figures. Initially, the floor was of black-and-yellow granite patterned as a chessboard; however in 1970, the yellow panels were replaced with gray.

Beauty is in the eyes of beholder. It is a very subjective matter for debates. Anne has listed 3 stations in her opinion worth for visit, i.e. Mayakovskaya, Taganskaja and Kiyevskaya on the last 4th leg. We only visited 1 out of 3 since the other 2 are on Line 5, Koltsevaya in the Dorogomilovo District, Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow. Time was not on our side. Therefore, when I returned next to Moscow, I shall by all means reach those 2 stations. In addition, there are other stations from my research that worth a visit beside those 5 that I’ve been at. They are, Novokuznetskaya, Avtozavodskaya, Arbatskaya, Elektrozavodskaya, Komsomolskaya, Prospekt Mira, Novoslobodskaya, Pushkinskaya, Kuznetsky, Nagatinskaya, Dostoyevskaya and Park Pobedy, the deepest station among all. 14 stations left to visit.

Moscow Transport Department has created a website for foreign tourist to use a friendly Metro maps that is really helpful for anyone to use them, at a provided link, "Vestibule Map". One of the ideas of the new map is to increase the role of commuter trains and surface transport in the Moscow transportation system. Using surface transport reduces the load on the Metro and is often faster and more convenient. For example, getting from Schukinskaya to Sokol via Metro requires traveling through 11 stations and a transfer, while taking the tram is faster and easier. The map shows the routes that connect neighboring Metro lines, but does not include any details or intermediate stops. Only the routes with waiting time of less than ten minutes are chosen, as the main aim is to provide passengers with a faster travel alternative. Transfer stations of commuter trains and bus stops are marked with circles, just like Metro transfer stations. Aeroexpress, trolleybus, tram and bus (including express bus) routes also maintain this style.

I hope this entry would assist many of you who plan a visit to Moscow. Take my advice, please include Moscow Underground Stations in your itinerary, beside a Red Square which has plenty more to see. Red Square and Moscow Metro Stations are the 2 landmarks that portrays what the Moscow's are, a jewel!

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