This past weekend I had the chance to take a tour of Moscow’s underground metro. While subway stations are not normally associated with the word beautiful, Moscow’s really take the cake. Ornate and unique, each station stands as an individual work of architectural and decorative genius. In a city that spends so much time in darkness (17 hours today!), these hidden gems are heartwarming and good for the soul.
Ground was first broken on the Moscow Metro in 1931. Taking four years to construct, the metro initially spanned the walls of the Kremlin, and was used to transport a blossoming Moscow workforce.
Initially created to impress both the citizens of Moscow as well as Capitalist countries worldwide, the metro served a third purpose – that of a bomb shelter during World War II. Belorusskaya, a station close to my house, was used as a command center during the Battle of Moscow.
In an all too common Soviet story, Stalin, fearing shared secrets, had the original metro engineers sent to the gulag. Four years later, once it was discovered that their knowledge was still necessary, search parties were sent to retrieve these artists. Tragically, the leader had died but three still remained to continue on and expand the work they had begun.
In 2016, with 203+ stations in its arsenal and more on the way, the Moscow Metro transports 8 million people every day.
I’m told there are secret metro stations within Moscow’s city walls. One such station lies quite close to Stalin’s Bunker. In this city of many secrets, an extensive secret metro system would not surprise me a bit.
As these pictures show, the Moscow Metro offers a beautiful combination of unexpected luxury, classical style, and ease of transportation. History lessons and works of art abound in the most unexpected of corners. I’m looking forward to exploring further during my time here.
In just a few days I, too, will be departing to head back to the States for the holidays. It’s been quite a wild few months here in Moscow, exploring this wonderful new city and adjusting to life in Russia. I hope you all get to enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season. Thank you for joining me and being a part of mine! доброй ночи.
If you would like to see more, take a look at CNN.com’s snapshot of a number of beautiful Moscow Metro stations.