Here’s my newest story in Conde Nast Traveller India. It is on Moscow Metro – Is this the World’s Most Stunning Metro?
81 years ago, things went underground in the Russian capital.
Let’s have a look at the World’s Most Stunning Metro
Envisioned by Stalin as ‘Palaces for the Proletariat’, the Moscow Metro comprises around 200 stations and snakes across 330 mind-numbing kilometers. Little wonder then, that the metro boasts grand columns, majestic glass panels, and stunning murals. Despite its humble beginnings, today, it is counted amongst the top five busiest metros globally.
This seemingly unending escalator at Prospekt Mira Station transports you to Moscow’s underbelly. With every passing second, you’re made increasingly aware of the just how underground this station is. 40 metres under the city, it isn’t even half as deep as Park Pobedy, located at a depth of 84 metres!
With a ceiling decorated with PoP cast, marble columns displaying delicate floral ceramic friezes and bas-relief ceramic medallions showing facets of agricultural development in Russia, it’s no wonder that Prospekt Mira got it’s original name, Botanichesky Sad, from the Botanical Gardens of Moscow State University, located close by.
Fun fact: Stalin’s whimsical act of placing his coffee cup on the metro blueprint left a circular brown mark on it and gave birth to the Circle or Brown Line. Located on this line is Novoslobodskaya Station, with a design woven around 32 majestic stained glass panels that line two sides of the station.The vestibule at the end of the platform has a mosaic installation titled ‘Peace throughout the world’ created by renowned mosaic artist, Pavel Korin.
Belorusskaya Station, as the name suggests, is close to the Belorussky Rail Terminal. The floor of the station apes a Belarusian quilt and a dozen octagonal mosaic murals depicting the everyday life in Belarus stud the ceiling.
Krasnopresnenskaya Station on the Circle Line displays 14 bas-reliefs that depict the milestones from both the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917.
While Kiyevskaya Station’s design was selected through an open competition held in Ukraine, the star attraction of this station is mosaic-work murals that represent Russian-Ukrainian friendship. The end of the platform has a mosaic portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, more popularly known, as just Lenin.
Park Kultury Station is a true masterpiece of architecture and design. A grand granite floor, marble pylons, and circular medallions that reflect sports and youth activities adorn the walls. (Contd)…
There’s even a bas-relief gilded bust of Maxim Gorky, a Soviet writer, and activist that adorns the recess at the end of the central hall.
The third station from Park Kultury on Sokolnicheskaya line heading towards Salaryevo, Vorobyovy Gory station has a unique location – a bridge on River Moscow. As the train glides away towards its next destination, the station offers a gorgeous view of Moscow on the left, and the stadium built for 1980 Olympics on the right.
If you move anti-clockwise on the Circle Line, Oktyabrskaya Station follows Park Kultury. The station commemorates the Russian victory in WWII with gilded wreaths and stars. One end of the central hall has a miniature victory arch bathed in blue, representing an era of peace!
Breathtaking in its simplicity, Dobryninskaya Station gets its character from the concentric marble arches and a vertically hanging zigzag of fluorescent tubes. The motifs displayed show traditional leisure activities and vocations from all parts of erstwhile Soviet Union – fishing, working in orchards, playing tambourine, hunting.
Paveletskaya Station is distinct from the other stations, as it has been designed with straight, clean lines, unlike the sweeping arches and curves of the others. Red granite inlay embellishments in white marble, ionic capitals with delicate volutes and mosaic masterpieces define Paveletskaya. Look out for the striking mosaic by Pavel Korin, depicting a worker boy and a peasant girl holding the coat of arms of the Soviet Union.
Taganskaya Station is a tribute to the Russian Red Army and other defense services. Its 48 Maiolica (tin-glazed pottery) panels have floral motif borders and bas-reliefs of servicemen from different defense service wings.
One of the busiest stations, Komsomolskaya is themed around the mosaics of past military leaders. A yellow baroque ceiling and plaster friezes greet passengers at the entrance, while the ceiling mosaics depict various Russian war heroes over the centuries.
It appeared as a photo essay. Hence, there is no clear concluding statement/paragraph!