Carrying millions of passengers every day, Moscow Metro is the 8th largest metro system in the world and the largest abroad. Chinese. It is extremely well run and during peak hours trains arrive every 90 seconds.
However, these facts are not why the Moscow Metro is so famous; It is known for its beauty. Each of the 258 stations is a work of art with its own theme and design, making each one unique.
Although the Moscow Metro was designed to serve an important function, the beauty of the stations attracts millions of tourists each year who marvel at the incredible art and design features.
History of Moscow Metro
Plans of the Moscow Metro were made by Tsar II. It was already under construction under Nicholas’ rule. These were suspended due to the outbreak of the First World War. The Russian Revolution followed Russia’s withdrawal from the war. As the country grappled with regime change and efforts to gain order and control, further conflict completely erased the idea of building a subway from people’s minds.
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It was 1931 when plans for the construction of the first stations were approved. The person responsible for the design of the first line was Lazar Kaganovich. The first order of business was to consult with British colleagues, architect Charles Holden and Frank Pick, the manager working on the project. Piccadilly Line. Both men became advisors to the Soviet project. British engineers were tasked with solving the functional significance, while the Soviets provided the craftsmanship and artistic designs.
The guiding principle behind the artistic design was: sweden (light) and sveltloe budushchee (bright future) was chosen to provide a sense of optimism to the Soviet people who would use the metro system.
But Britain’s trade in Russia would not last long. The NKVD arrested several engineers on charges of espionage. After the show trial, the defendants were sent back to England along with their colleagues.
Despite the lack of British expertise, the Soviets continued their work and the first 13-station line, the Sokolniki to Okhotny Ryad line, was opened in 1935. The inclusive design of these first stations was an attempt to break away from the utilitarian design of the system. Analogues of the metro in Western countries. Moscow stations were presented as museums and theaters rather than dreary transport hubs.
The second line from Arbatskaya to Kurskaya was opened in 1938, and in September of the same year the Gorkovskaya Line was also opened. These stations followed the Art Deco aesthetic while presenting socialist themes.
Mayakovskaya Station represents an excellent example of this fusion. The columns are clad in pink rhodonite and stainless steel; the walls behind them are covered with white and gray diorite. When you look up, the theme of the station becomes clear, images of aircraft moving through the sky decorate the ceiling, reflecting a sense of Soviet Futurism.
Mayakovskaya also played an important role during the war. Its location deep underground was a significant feature and it was used as a hospital, a meeting place (Stalin addressed people at Mayakovskaya), a bomb shelter and a maternity home where 150 children were born.
Despite the incredible destruction and loss of life during Germany’s invasion of Russia, metro construction did not stop completely. Although delayed, a total of seven stations were completed on two line sections. Naturally, the war had an impact on design motifs, and these stations replaced Socialist paradise themes with war imagery. This theme continued even after the war as the stations grew.
Post-War Metro Expansion
Immediately after the end of the war, construction of the fourth stage of the Moscow Metro began. The Koltsevaya Line opened in the 1950s, and like other works to be built in the Moscow Metro in the early 1950s, its design aesthetic was rich. Moscow Baroque but with Soviet influence. Many consider this era to be the peak of the system’s design and beauty.
This period also coincided with the beginning of the Cold War, and although the stations built during this period were beautiful, they were also designed to be used as fallout shelters in the event of nuclear war. Throughout these stations, mysterious numbered doors can be found leading to secret vaults intended to house and feed thousands of people. An annoying feature when traveling on the Moscow Metro is the hermetic blast doors at the base of the escalators; these doors would close in the event of a nuclear war, trapping those lucky enough to be inside the Metro.
Khrushchev and Brezhnev Era
From the late 1950s onwards, the expansion of new lines and stations on the Moscow Metro was characterized by a reduction in funding as Nikita Khrushchev demanded functional buildings that dispensed with the high level of decoration found in previous stations. Like KhrushchevkasThe apartments above, the metro stations eschewed the feeling of being cheap, they are mass-produced works with a purely utilitarian purpose. Thus, some stations took on an almost brutalist quality.
But the stations didn’t just look cheap. They were cheap. A standard design was published and followed throughout, with little to differentiate the final product from other stations of the time. In most stations of this period, the biggest difference in aesthetics would be a slight difference in the color of the marble.
Tiles were used extensively on walls and over time this proved to be a terrible idea in subway stations. Intense vibrations shake the walls, causing the tiles to dislodge. Metro stations built during the Khrushchev era are marked by walls covered with mismatched tiles, as the originals were not always available when replacement was required.
The design of the Moscow Metro continued under Brezhnev, but funding was increased in the mid-to-late 1970s to give the stations a slightly more decorative aesthetic. However, the main design with wide platforms and double rows of columns continued to dominate.
From the late 1970s until the collapse of the Soviet Union, metro stations in Moscow were built in a renewed effort to make them aesthetically pleasing and unique. While some of the new stations imitated old designs, some were built with a more modern appearance. There are huge differences between the designs of the stations built in this period.
Opened in 1978, Medvedkovo features large columns, while the walls are covered with interlocking aluminum triangles and wildlife images. The walls of Shabolovskaya Station, which opened in 1980, are covered with metal sheets, while Tyoply Stan, which opened in 1987, has brightly colored red ceramic tiles on its walls.
Despite economic difficulties in the 1990s, the Moscow Metro continued to grow. The interesting themes and design choices also continued as before; architects and artists were tasked with creating stations that Muscovites would be proud of. Groundbreaking design choices have been accompanied by truly groundbreaking work as new stations emerge to connect more of the massive Moscow Metro area.
In Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya, thick neon lamps are used instead of white lights.
Slavyansky Boulevard has a plant-inspired theme and includes benches made of green marble and beech wood from Cuba.
Opened in 2007, the stylish and sparkling Sretensky Boulevard has a completely futuristic design and is decorated with paintings.
Opened in 2019, the above-ground station Delovoy Tsentr uses light as its main attraction, with the entire station bathed in a green glow due to green-tinted transparent ceilings.
In Lomonosovsky Prospekt, which opened in 2017, mathematics was used as the theme and the walls and columns were decorated with equations.
Olkhovaya, opened in 2019, is another theme inspired by plants. However, this station focuses on fall and winter colors and uses geometric shapes.
The Moscow Metro has a long history and has gone through many design phases, providing a unique aesthetic and capturing the imagination of the millions of passengers who use it every day.
Moscow Metro map prepared by Ilya Birman, via ilyabirman.net
As the city of Moscow continues to grow economically, work continues to improve and expand the Metro, which inspires engineers, architects, artists and those who enjoy punctuality!