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Moscow State University, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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Moscow State University's imposing central building stands on the Vorobyovy Gory (the Sparrow Hills), dominating the campus and overlooking the Luzhniki district of the city. The enormous gothic skyscraper was commissioned by Stalin, along with 6 others dotted across Moscow known as "The Seven Sisters", and was built between 1949 and 1953 on the site, which Ivan the Terrible had deemed "too windy" for construction back in the 16th century. A total of sixty trains were employed to transport the building's steel frame from the eastern Ukrainian city of Dneiperpetrovsk and thousands of forced laborers worked on the building for a period of 4 years, under the ever watchful gaze of Stalin's favorite henchman, Lavrenty Beria.

The University (MGU) building comprises a 36-storey teaching block flanked by four huge wings of student accommodation and is said to contain a total of 33 kilometers of corridor. The building's proportions are deceptively vast and its spire, despite appearing small from the ground, is in fact 240 meters tall and the star on its top weighs an incredible 12 tons. The building's facades are ornamented with giant clocks, statues, carved wheat sheaves and Soviet crests and stand before a terrace featuring heroic statues of male and female students gazing optimistically and confidently into the future.

Entrance into MGU's main building is strictly guarded, but for those wily enough to sneak through, the foyer is quite a sight to behold. Green marble pervades throughout and elegant colonnades line the hallway, interspersed with medallions bearing the names and portraits of world-famous scientists and culminating in impressive bronze statues of acclaimed Soviet ones. Many famous Russian figures and Nobel Prize winners feature in MGU's Alumni, including the former President and law graduate Mikhail Gorbachev, and the university has awarded honorary degrees to many more well-known international figures, including the famous German writer and thinker Goethe, the first prime-minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and last but not least, the former US President Bill Clinton. MGU, originally named the Lomonosov University, is the oldest educational institution in Russia and was founded on the 12th January 1755 on the decree of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna and on the initiative of the great Russian scientist Mikhail Vassilievich Lomonosov, after which it is named.

The day on which Moscow University was founded is celebrated every year in Russia as Student's Day. The university boasts more than 30,000 full-time, part-time and post-graduate students enrolled in 16 faculties and a staff of more than 8,500 professors, associate professors, research associates and lecturers. MGU also boasts scientific research institutes specializing in the most significant areas of modern science, such as Mechanics, Nuclear Physics, Astronomy, Lasers, Molecular Biology, Bio-organic Chemistry, Anthropology, Materials Sciences, Ecology and the Humanitarian Sciences.

From the terrace in front of the impressive MGU building, visitors are awarded a stunning panoramic view over the Luzhniki district of the city, including the new Luzhniki sports stadium, the beautiful Novodevichy Convent and the brand new Church of Christ the Savior. Even the glittering onion domes of the Kremlin are visible in the distance, and you can count many of MGU's fellow "sister" buildings dotted around the fantastic vista of Moscow. Endless photo opportunities on a good day! More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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