Underground museum.
Moscow metro stations guide
Journeys | 03.07.2019
Moscow metro is one of the main sights of the city. You can always meet tourist groups at the stations and the beauty of Moscow metro never stops amusing even the locals. Specially for MAPS.ME Radio Sputnik has created the route around Moscow Metro and told how it was founded.
Dobryninskaya station
Opened 1st January 1950 We descend to a depth of 35.5 metres. The largest lamps in the Moscow metro stand on both sides of the escalators. The station's architect, Leonid Pavlov, said that the image of Dobryninskaya came to him when he spent the night in the hayloft at the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl in Vladimir (XII century). At the station there are indeed motifs of Old Russian architecture: arches are all ingrained one into another following the principle "small, smaller, smallest".
The theme of Dobryninskaya is the work of the Soviet people. 12 bas-reliefs are devoted to it. They are located on both sides of the central hall at eye level and are made from fine carvings on white marble. The scenes they depict are simple. The first bas-relief the passengers come across is the "Fisherman holding a fishing net at sea": seagulls flock to the net, the slant of the sails depicts windy weather.
There are three mosaic panels at the entrance. The central is dedicated to Lenin, the two side panels contained portraits of Stalin. When it came to one of them, Gagarin helped again throughout the renovation process: the portrait of the first cosmonaut replaced the former portrait of Stalin, which was carried during the parade by athletes. Nobody really noticed then that the first flight into space was accomplished only in 1961, and Gagarin could not have been honoured during the parade in 1950.
The only people who never criticised Dobryninskaya station are palaeontologists. From a paleontological point of view, this is the best station of the Moscow metro. In its cladding, red marble is used, in which nautilus (cephalopods), ammonites (extinct cephalopods) and crinoidea (echinoderms) are preserved and are well seen upon close examination.
Kievskaya station (Koltsevahya line)
Opened 14th March 1954. The construction of this station completed the circle line of the Moscow metro, which began in 1947. The main element in the design is the 18 large-scale panels. Their lower part starts at head height, so it is quite convenient to look at. Under each mosaic is its name, stamped on a "scroll" also made from white marble.
The station's theme is "Friendship of the Ukrainian and Russian peoples" It was Nikita Khrushchev's favourite station. He actually worked in Ukraine for 11 years before becoming the head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He himself chose from forty architectural and artistic projects the one that would be built at Kievskaya. The Kievskaya group project, under the guidance of architect Evgeny Katonin, seemed the best to him. He was invited to start working.
The Kievskaya ring station had one feature: among all the stations of the Moscow metro it has the most portraits of Stalin – seven. On one panel – "The reunification of the Ukrainian people in a single Ukrainian Soviet state" – there were even two images of the leader: his face on the banner and Stalin himself in the cheering crowd. After the de-stalinization, (overthrowing the cult of the tyrant) Stalin's portraits were removed from the mosaics, including from the banner on the reunion panel, however, he still remains among the "reunited people". Stalin's face is clearly visible on the right side of the panel.
All mosaics are filled with purely Ukrainian elements. These are not only bright national costumes of characters or ethnographic details like a bandura in the hands of a Kobzar musician. Each panel is framed by a wide polygonal frame with stucco ornaments depicting Ukrainian national motifs: thick wheat ears, flower buds, herbal ornaments, garlands of leaves, guilded gold in colour.
Komsomolskaya (Koltsevaya Line)
Opened 30th January 1952. We are at a depth of 37 metres. The height of the hall is 9 metres, width 11 metres: According to these indicators, the Komsomolskaya ring is considered to be the biggest out of all the columned stations.
68 columns in total. All of them are eight-sided, the distance between each of them is 5.6 metres. The vaults are decorated with eight mosaic panels. They consist of gilded coloured stones. The area of each of them measures up to 30 square metres, with the total weight being 24 tonnes.
The station's architect is Alexey Shchusev. Komsomolskaya was his last big project. Schusev's most famous work is Lenin's Mausoleum on Red Square. The author of the station's mosaics is Pavel Korin: the artist, who in his youth was an icon painter, became a master of social realism in his mature years. Shchusev and Korin received the Stalin Prize for the Komsomolskaya station.
The task was set before Korin: illustrate Stalin's words. That is, to write portraits of historical persons in the order in which they were listed in the speech.
The gallery of portraits from the mosaic begins with Prince Alexander Nevsky. He is depicted after the Battle on the Neva, where he defeated the Swedes. Riding on a white horse in a red cape under a banner with the image of the "The Saviour Not Made by Hands".
Now the 7th and 8th mosaics don't look anything like they did when the station opened. One is called "Lenin's speech before the Red Guards going to the front" and in fact depicts Lenin. Initially, it was called "The presentation of the Guard's banner on Red Square on 7th November 1941", and its main figure was Stalin. This was the same with the panel "Triumph of Victory". It portrays Stalin looking on the Victory Parade of 1945, and we see Nazi banners being thrown onto Red Square.

A woman walking on them with an olive branch, a sickle and a hammer in her hands only appeared in the 60's. Behind her is the empty podium of the Mausoleum, from which Pavel Korin removed Stalin, Beria, Kaganovich and other members of the Soviet government.
Krasnye Vorota station
Opened 15th May 1935. We are at a depth of 32.8 metres. Although it is a deep station, it was never used as a bomb shelter. During the raids on Moscow at the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, one of the command posts was located here; the station wasn't operating then even for passengers – the trains passed through it without stopping.
The station project received the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in Paris (1937). Architect – Ivan Fomin, was a supporter of a strictly classical style. He repeated the architectural style of the building in the appearance of the station, which gave the station its name. Krasnye Vorota was a historic building, located on the site of the metro station for nearly 220 years.
Krasnye Vorota station was destined to twice become an expression of cultural losses. In the early 1950s, one of Stalin's skyscrapers was erected next to it, and therefore the house in which the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov was born was demolished. It was decided that his place of birth would be immortalised naming the square and the station after him. So from 1962 to 1986, Krasnye Vorota was called Lermontovskaya.
But there was something at this station that spoke not only about the loss of the past, but also about acquisitions for the future. It was at Krasnye Vorota in 1952 that the very first turnstiles began to operate and from here they spread throughout the Moscow metro.
Kropotkinskaya station
Opened 15th May 1935. Kropotkinskaya is one of the oldest and most awarded of all the Moscow metro stations. It was awarded the Grand Prix at international exhibitions in Paris (1937) and Brussels (1958) and the Stalin Prize (1941) – all for its ground-based vestibule. It is recognised as an architectural masterpiece and listed as a UNESCO monument.
Kropotkinskaya was among the first 13 stations of the Moscow metro, but, unlike them, it is shallow, descending only 13 metres. This is explained by the fact that this line had a special purpose: to become the underground vestibule for the Palace of the Soviets. Even the name of the station was: "Palace of the Soviets". And almost until the beginning of the 1950s, the floor covering on the station platform was asphalt, and not like now, which is a granite grey-pink pattern.
The architects decided to maximise the contrast. The idea of the Kropotkinskaya station was inspired by underground stone buildings typical of ancient Egypt: as they had no windows, they were lit with burning oil in bowls placed on top of the inner columns. This is how the station Kropotkinskaya is now lit up: light being shone out of the grey-white marble columns.
The station was built quickly. However, the Palace of Soviets was not. The trench ended up housing an outdoor pool "Moskva" for many years, then the cathedral was rebuilt.
Mayakovskaya station
Opened 11th September 1938. We are at a depth of 33 metres. The height of the arch is 5.3 metres. Mayakovskaya is the only Art Deco station in the Moscow metro. a mix of modern and neo-classicism, luxury and simplicity. In 1939, its one-to-one mock-up was presented at the World Expo in New York and won the Grand Prix. On the list of Moscow's architectural monuments it has the status of "the most valuable object".
This is the first station in which polished steel columns were used as a finishing material. It was even nicknamed: "Mayakovsky's steel jacket". Architect – Alexey Dushkin. Artist – Aleksandr Deyneka. The theme of the station "Day of the Soviet sky". There were 35 domes in the arch of Mayakovskaya, each with oval mosaic panels. One is lost, now there are 34 of them. The panels are illuminated and read like windows through which you can watch the day change to night. In each mosaic there is an image of the sky: in the morning, in the afternoon, at night and again in the morning.
A topic "Flight over the North Pole" is something very understandable to the Soviet people of the 1930s. The mosaic depicts the ANT-25 aircraft, in which the first non-stop flight Moscow – the North Pole – Vancouver was made in 1937.
The new morning offensive in the "Day of the Soviet sky" was the "stratosphere balloon" panel: a dazzling white balloon in a bright blue sky. The "Red flag" panel completes the mosaic cycle: planes fly over the banner, making four letters in the air – "CCCP" (USSR).
Novokuznetskaya station
Opened 20th November 1943. The station's round vestibule stands exactly at the site of the Paraskeva Pyatnitsa church (16th century). It was demolished when the metro was built. Meanwhile, it was one of the few structures that wasn't affected by the fire of Moscow in 1812: probably that's why in the XIX and even in the XX century that this place was referred to as "devout".
Novokuznetskaya station was built during the Great Patriotic War. It could have been opened on 1st January 1943 – trains have been travelling through it since that day. But passengers couldn't actually get down to the platform as no escalators had been installed. Their delivery was delayed until the summer.

The Novokuznetskaya vestibule is located at a depth of 37.5 metres. Its architects were husband and wife, Ivan Taranov and Nadezhda Bykova, who built more than one metro station. Sculptor – Georgy Motovilov.
The benches at the Novokuznetskaya station are interesting in their own right. They are designed as benches, sofas with high white marble backs in the form of unfolding scrolls. The urban legend claims that these marble bench-sofas were taken from the destroyed Temple of Christ the Saviour.
The landmark Novokuznetskaya station has mosaic panels in the centre of the arch. All of them are connected either with a peaceful life or with the labour exploits of the Soviet people. Six large mosaics were made according to the sketches of Alexandr Deyneka. These are "Gardeners", "Steelworkers", "Mechanics", "Builders", "Pilots" and "Skiers".

There was also something left unfinished from war times at Novokuznetskaya. The station was launched not having time to finish off the tiling walls or marble walls – they were simply whitewashed, and they remain like that today.
Novoslobodskaya station
Opened 30th January 1952. We are at a depth of 40 metres, the diameter of the central hall is 9.5 metres. According to the creators, the station was supposed to give the impression of a fabulous grotto with muted light. The light had to come mainly from inside the stained glass windows. There are 32 of them here. The stained glass windows are the main attraction of Novoslobodskaya. Thanks to them, the station is an object of cultural heritage. The theme of the station is "Peaceful life and creation".
Dushkin dreamed of using uranium glass for stained glass, because it exhibits green fluorescence. He was denied the uranium glass, and it was decided that coloured glass would be used instead. It was found in Riga. The glass had been intended for the stained glass windows of Latvian churches and was kept in the Riga Cathedral.
If you stare at the stained glass windows for a long time, it becomes clear that their main motif is the variations on a paradise "tree of life" with birds of paradise on either side. At the top of each stained glass window is a medallion with its own pattern. Either an intricate pattern, or a five-pointed star, or a portrait of a representative of a particular profession.
At Novoslobodskaya there is a large mosaic panel at the end of the hall. It is called "World Peace" and depicts a woman with a child in her arms in motion towards the viewer.

At first, Nikita Khrushchev did not like the fact that the woman was barefoot, so she had sandals in ancient Greek style "attached" to her. Then there were some more modifications, but the main image remained: the Soviet woman with child strongly resembled Raphael's "Sistine Madonna", and so they demanded the removal of the "religious" mosaic altogether. Fortunately, metro workers simply placed a false marble wall in front of it. A few years later, when Khrushchev resigned from the post of head of state, the false wall was dismantled. And at the same time the woman had her shoes removed.
Park Kultury (Koltsevaya Line)
Opened 1st January 1950. The station is located at a depth of 40 metres. Its original name is "Park of Culture named after Gorky" It was assigned one purpose: take Muscovites to the Gorky Park.
The name of the station was criticised, since it is located a kilometre from the entrance to the park. At a later time, it was proposed to rename "Park of Culture" to "Krimskiy Most" (Crimean Bridge) or "Chudovka": the bridge leading to the park starts almost from the station itself, and the old street with such a wonderful name (now Komsomolsky Avenue) also went straight from it. The name was left unchanged, being reduced to two words.
In its appearance, Park Kultury station was supposed to depict to the metro passengers what to expect if they went to Gorky Park. The theme was defined as: "Cultural holidays of Soviet workers".

The creators of the Park Kultury metro station reflected the sports and cultural-educational purpose of the Central Park of Culture and Leisure in bas-reliefs. Theatre artist Isaac Rabinovich was their creator. Each bas-relief is made from bright white marble on the same white marble medallion. There are 26 of them. They are located on both sides of the central hall just above head height and are easily visible.
The station's architect, Igor Rozhin, designed it in such a way that the space would seem cosy, almost homely. To do this, they placed malachite floor lamps in the central hall, hung up "Chinese lanterns", and decorated the roof with stucco rosettes.
"Ploshad Revolutsiy" station
Opened 13th March 1938. We are at a depth of 34 metres. The height of the arch is 5.3 metres. "Ploshad Revolutsiy" is Moscow metro's most famous station. It is called the "station-museum". The main attraction is 76 bronze sculptures.
The station's architect was Alexey Dushkin, and the sculptor was Matvey Manizer. The theme is the greatness of the socialist revolution.
Because of the small height of the niches, arranged in the arches, all the figures are depicted either crouching or sitting. The exceptions are four images of children. There are 76 sculptures, but they are not 76 unique characters. There are only twenty images. 18 images have been repeated four times and then two more – twice on the opposite sides of the platform.
The sculptures on Ploshad Revolutsiy are part of Moscow folklore. Signs and superstitions are associated with many of them. For example, for good luck, you must rub the nose of the border guard dog, and all four noses at the station have been rubbed so much they're shining. This ritual has existed since 1938, and it was invented by tech students.
There is a strong opinion among Muscovites that all these sculptures were made from melted church bells. And the reason for the universal love for the dog of the border guard is because it was cast from the bell of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, blown up in 1931. Whether this is really the reason is unknown. But in the 1930s, in the USSR, churches were really massively closed and destroyed, the church bells were melted down and were used for economic needs.
Teatralnaya station
Opened 11th September 1938. We are at a depth of 35 metres, the height of the arch is 5.3 metres. The platform width is 22.5 metres.
The technical characteristics of the station made it possible to use it as an air-raid shelter during the Great Patriotic War – this was how all deep stations were used.
The architect, Ivan Fomin, was the master of Soviet monumental classicism. The station's first name was "Sverdlov Square", in honour of the revolutionary Yakov Sverdlov. Throughout Soviet times, Theatre Square, where the station is located, also bore his name. Nevertheless, while designing it, the architect didn't have a heroic-revolutionary theme in mind, but rather a theatrical one.
14 figures of men and women in national costumes of the peoples of the USSR. They represent the seven Soviet republics: Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. You can make out the national identity primarily by the costumes and dance movements: for example, the dancing Georgian and Ukrainian women, of course, are different.
The musical instruments are also prompts to help the viewer understand it. Therefore, an Armenian man plays a duduk, and an Armenian woman plays an Armenian tambourine, a daf. The Ukrainian holds a bandura in his hands, the Georgian has a traditional chonguri, a string plucked instrument. The Belarusian is depicted with a violin, the Kazakh – with a national Dombra. The Russian has a balalaika in her hands and an Uzbek couple – a singer and a dancer.

Extended historical background about Moscow Metro stations in the route "A walk around Moscow metro with Radio Sputnik". To download this click the link below or find it in the MAPS.ME guides catalogue.
Related articles
If you need more information, please check the article or contact our support@maps.me
© 2019 Maps.me