Moscow Metro celebrates its 80th birthday

They say that the Moscow Metro is the most beautiful in the world. Many compare it to underground palaces and organize Metro tours. Even 44 stations of the Moscow metro have the status of cultural heritage. Today, underground transport network of the Russian capital has 12 lines and 200 stations, and continues to expand. Let’s just say that this year, seven new stations will be opened. It all started on May 15, 1935 by a single line, which went from Sokolniki to the Gorky Park of Culture.

Moscow metro

The beginning

The idea of building a subway dates back to the 1875. However, it was not implemented for various reasons. One of them is, for instance, was a tram lobby. In the early thirties of the 20th century, subway has again become a topical issue, though London, Paris and Berlin engineers claimed that natural conditions are not suitable for its construction because of an incredibly complex structure of the Moscow area. However, thanks to local engineers, hydrogeologists and architects, a system of huge spatial units under the earth, real squares and streets of a real underground city was created. A faithful projection of the Russian capital.

Underground Urbanism

kropotkinskaya

Revolutionary solutions in this area belong to the architect Alexei Duskin. His granddaughter, Natalia Duskin talks about how the stations Kropotkinskaya, Mayakovskay and the Revolution Square ended up at the top among world Metro stations. “At the station Kropotkinskaya, he used hidden light sources that create the effect of some great ceremonial hall of the castle, at the Mayakovsky station, Duskin’s pierced periscopes on the station’s arches by deploying there mosaics”. He was the first to introduce new decorative materials such as steel polishing, stained glass and granite in the stations architecture.

The main “exhibits”

majakovskaja metro

Metro is compared with the underground palaces for a reason. Many stations are designed as an effective architectural ensembles. In this context, particularly interesting is the Mayakovsky station. Mosaics for this station are made in the studio in Leningrad based on Alexander Dejneks’ sketches, one of the major artists of the USSR. They are made of smaltin, whose stocks have remained even from the imperial period. Dejnek actually created the first Soviet lexicon on the ceiling beams by portraying characters and scenes from the new life – a giant factories, girls in combine, harvesters, pioneers, sportists, holiday, motherhood, flower gardens, parachutes and airplanes …Metro can also be viewed from another perspective, without lifting heads up. Just walk the “avenue of glory”, ie. the platforms at the Revolution Square station. Sculptors led by Matvey Manizer arranged bronze figures of typical Soviet figures next to the pylons. Here you can see pioneers, athletes, followed by a sailor, student, peasant, and even a border guard with a dog, whose muzzle and paws have completely gone white from rubbing. Ana Ludina, guide for the Museum of Moscow, says that there is a popular legend about that dog. “If you rub the dogs snout, it’ll bring you good luck. On the other hand, close to the “dog statue”, there is a statue of worker lady in the poultry farm, with a rooster, but the statue must not be touched for it will bring you bad luck. However, rooster also shines from rubbing”.

Metro during the war

During the war, Metro has confirmed its status as a “reserve city”. It was closed only for a day, on October 16th 1941., during the panic, after the decision about “the evacuation of Moscow”. At the time, Metro used as a shelter, even the maternity hospital in which, during the war, was born 217 babies. Furthermore, after the danger ended, the construction of new stations had began. During the war, seven stations were built. Among them are Avtozavodskya (classy station with pillars, which is regarded as one of the best Duskin works) and Novokuznetskaya station (projected by Ivan Taranov and Nadezhda Bykova). After visiting those stations you should climb up to a higher level by elevator, where you can see the first hall of the Moscow metro in the form of a rotunda with a dome (designed by the architects headed by Vladimir Geljfrejhom and Igor Rozin).

Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines

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