The Moscow Underground is an essential part of life in the capital, and is the main pillar of the whole public transport system in the city. Moscow metro has 12 lines with a total length of 325,4 km, making it the 6th longest in the world and one of the most beautiful ones.
At the beginning of the 20th century, when certain engineers suggested to build an underground transport system, the local government declined it in favor of trams. Indeed trams in those days were very popular and contributed quite substantially to the city’s budget.
By the end of the 20s, Moscow was coming to a transport collapse with existing tram networks. So they were forced to build an alternative transportation system.
The first line of the Moscow Metro was opened in 1935. It was designed and constructed within 4 years. Later on, more lines and stations were connecting parts of the city and making metro the most popular transport in Moscow.
Stalin ordered the metro’s artists and architects to design a structure that embodies the power, the culture, the future and the beauty of Russia. Down in the depths of Moscow, where you least expect it, the stations tell the story of Russia’s colorful past. They are beautiful decorated, some with lavish ornate marble finishes and fantastic lighting to create the right ambiance. In many stations, you would think you have just stepped inside a palace or a cathedral.
If you are making your way around the Moscow Metro system, you will be in some incredible architectural treats along the way.
Here are some must see metro stations:
1. Mayakovskaya Metro Station is the result of a soviet futurism envisioned by Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky and it is considers to be one of the most beautiful metro stops in the system. Beside its beauty, it is also famous for being an air raid shelter during WW II.
2. Komsomolskaya Metro Station – with its ornate ceiling and gothic chandeliers, you will feel like you have stepped into a grand palace.
3. Novoslobskaya Metro Station – At first glance, this station looks like you have entered the world of Alice and Wonderland with its beautiful checkered floor tiles and wavy arched corridors and stairways.
4. Elektrozavodskaya Metro Station – When you visit this station, it will come as no surprise to you it is named after the light bulb factory. The ceiling is decorated with over 300 lamps laid out in six parallel rows.
5. Belorusskaya Metro Station – your eyes will instantly be drown to the elaborate ceiling, which displays 12 mosaic panels, each one, showing the life in Belarus.
The first impact with any metro station in Moscow is huge. We were puzzled. All the signs and direction are written in Russian and there are many interconnected lines.
On the platform people are bumping into you if you stop walking. Around 7 million people use the metro system every day, so, you can imagine it is extremely crowed. But once we got the hang of things we got it and we handle it. It was the best way to navigate into the city.
Curious Facts about Moscow Metro
- More than 10 thousand trains pass through 194 stations of metro daily. 44 of those stations are stated as Russia’s cultural heritage sites for their beauty and historical value.
- On average, Moscow Metro services 7 million passengers on a daily basis, which makes it’s share in Moscow’s public transportation system total to around 60% compared to other means of commute.
- If you are traveling towards the center of the city or in a clockwise direction on a circle line, stations are announced by a male voice. On a way back from the center and in an anticlockwise, line you will be accompanied by a voice of a female announcer. This was done to help visually impaired passengers to navigate around the metro.
- Outer design of more than 20 Moscow’s metro stations contain various fossils (mollusk shells, corals) that originated millions of years ago. Marble and other materials that are used in the design of a lot of stations come from all around the country: Altay, Ural, Kareliya, Baikal, and the rest of the Soviet Union: Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and others.
Moscow Metro is a sort of a combination of a Paleontological and Geological museums.
- Around 26 metro stations were renamed after the collapse of the Soviet Union as well as names of streets, squares and avenues around the city.
- Supposedly there is a secret Underground system which is informally called Metro-2. It was started in the days of Joseph Stalin who wanted to have an opportunity to escape the city in case of any attack on the government or any other disturbances in Kremlin. “The length of Metro-2 is rumored to exceed that of the public Metro. It is said to have four lines, and to lie 50 to 200m deep. It is said to connect the Kremlin with the Federal Security Service headquarters, the government airport and an underground town at Ramenki.”.
Moscow’s Metro (in my opinion) is truly one of the most convenient, easy-to-navigate and beautiful metros in the world! It is fascinating from a historical point of view, and is one of the most used underground systems in the world. If you are visiting Moscow, make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see some of its most beautiful stations! But do make sure that you don’t commute during rush hours (7-10am, 5-7pm), otherwise the only thing you‘ll enjoy is the site of a huge (often not very cheerful) crowd.