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The Moscow Metro, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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The stations of Moscow's subway system have often been called "the people's palaces", for their elegant designs and lavish and profuse use of marble, mosaics, sculptures and chandeliers. Built during Stalin's rule, these metro stations were supposed to display the best of Soviet architecture and design and show how privileged the lifestyle of the Russian people was.

Although plans proposing the construction of an underground train system in Moscow were drawn up in 1902 and again in 1912, the outbreak of WWI, and later the revolution, delayed the start of the project for many years. The first line, the Sokolnicheskaya Line, was tunneled and built mainly by forced laborers and was finally and ceremoniously inaugurated on 15th May 1935, boasting just 13 stations.

Today the Metro system has grown into an enormous network of 11 lines and over 160 stations, with new stations opening every year.

Up until 1955 the metro was named after Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin's most trusted advisors and an instrumental figure in the construction of the metro, but the system was renamed the V. I. Lenin Moscow Metropolitan Railway.
During WWII the city's metro stations were used as air-raid shelters and many of the larger stations were used for important political and tactical meetings.

During the war the Chistiye Prudy station was used as the nerve center for Supreme Command HQ and the Soviet Army General Staff.

Mayakovskaya, one of the largest stations on the Gorkovsk-Zamoskvoretskaya Line, was used as a command post for the city's anti-aircraft batteries and on 6th November 1941, hosted an underground ceremony to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the October Revolution, for which a podium with a bust of Lenin, surrounded by banners, was set up in its main hall, trains were stopped at its platforms and sumptuous buffets arranged within them and hundreds of seats brought into the station to accommodate the invited Party members.

Those wanting to glimpse the best interiors that the Moscow Metro has to offer should take a look at some of the stations mentioned below.

Station Kropotkinskaya (known until 1957 as "Palace of Soviets") stands on the first line to have been inaugurated in 1935 and was sumptuously designed and decorated by the architect Dushkin. Built to serve visitors to the proposed new Palace of Soviets, the station's columns and walls are faced with marble taken from the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Savior, for whose nearby site the new Palace was planned. The ends of the station's supporting columns are carved into five pointed Soviet stars and the station's interior is more akin to an underground palace than a functioning station.

The Dushkin-designed Ploschad Revolutsii Station was opened on 13th March 1938 and abounds with bronze figures of the creators of the new socialist order, nestled into niches between the station's broad columns. The sculptor Manizer created a total of 76 magnificent statues of soldiers, workers and collective farm workers, as well as a heroic sculpture of the soldiers and sailors who defended the Young Soviet order, placed at the top of the station escalator.

The next line to be opened was the Gorkovsk-Zamoskvoretskaya Line, in which the Dushkin-designed Mayakovskaya Station is by far the most architecturally impressive. The station features glistening chrome columns and soaring vaults adorned with mosaic panels depicting "A Day in the Land of Soviets", designed by the artist Deineka. Coming from the escalator commuters first see happy Soviet workers rising with the dawn, combining happily in the fields and toiling in the factories before returning to their beds as the sun sets in the last panel.

In the midst of WWII on 20th November 1943, Novokusnetskaya Station was opened as a show of continued Soviet strength despite the raging armed struggle being fought by the country. The station was designed by Baranov and Bykov and patriotically decorated with heroes from Russian history, including the great Russian military commanders Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin and Prince Dmitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov and Prince Kutuzov. The station's mosaic decorations were designed by Deineka and created during the siege of Leningrad by the craftsman Frolov and later brought to Moscow. The marvelous marble benches that adorn the station platforms were taken from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, just before it was demolished.

In the 1950s probably the most luxurious station on the Circle line was opened - Komsomolskaya, designed by the architect of the Leningradsky Station, Shchusev. A veritable palace to the might of the Russian army, the station's ceiling is adorned with mosaic panels designed by Korin and depicting the country's great military leaders from Alexander Nevsky and the 14th century Dmitry Donskoy to the famed Alexander Suvorov and Prince Kutuzov, the great Russian hero of the Napoleonic Wars. The mosaic panels were created using ancient Byzantine techniques and include in them tiny squares of colored glass, marble and even granite. One of the station's original panels, entitled "Handing over the Guards' Banner", featured Stalin holding a banner, while an officer kneels and kisses it. After the 20th Party Congress, in which Krushchev denounced Stalin, the mosaic panel was removed and another featuring "Lenin's Speech to the Red Guards before Their Journey to the Front" was put in its place.

In January 1952 Novoslobodskaya Station was opened. Designed by the architects Dushkin and Strelkov, the station is perhaps the brightest and most ornate station on the Moscow underground and features beautiful stained-glass windows crafted in Riga and a stunning mosaic panel entitled "Peace Throughout the World" by the famed Korin.

We also recommend you take a peek inside Arbatskaya, Belorusskaya, Kievskaya and Park Kultury to gaze at the mosaics, chandeliers, marble columns and stunning stucco-covered ceilings.
More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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