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Moscow Metro

I always had a prejudice to public transport. I grew up in India at the end of the 20th century in a well-to-do family. I was taken to the school and back in my father’s car with a personal chauffeur. Growing up, I travelled by taxi, as well as my friends’ cars. Public transport seemed to me to be something dirty and miserable.

The first time I travelled by bus at the age of 25, when I was travelling with Sasha from the border of India deep into Nepal. This memory is still one of the most terrible in my life. I didn’t go to Nepal anymore; moreover, since then, the word “bus” makes me nervous.

There was no metro in Bangalore at the end of the 20th century; therefore, I very vaguely imagined what it was. When I was told that trains travel underground in Moscow, I could not wrap my head around it. It was also hard to imagine, as if it were a flight in zero gravity.

Sasha left Russia three years earlier; he built a new life in Goa from zero; hence, it is clear that he did not have a car in Moscow. In Goa, the lack of a car has never been a problem, since everything is close there and everyone has motorcycles or scooters, including us. However, Moscow turned out to be a huge city; thus, it is impossible to travel on a scooter or on foot. I had to learn the metro.

In the very first days of stay in Moscow, it turned out that the metro is the most convenient and high-speed mode of transport here. Every day the Moscow Metro carries more than 7 million passengers. Nevertheless, the main thing is not even that. Metro stations in the city centre shocked me with the magnificence and luxury of architecture. I could not even imagine that its stations could be so magnificent and grand! At some metro stations in Moscow, I had the feeling that I had fallen into fabulous palaces. Even in palaces in India, I have never seen such monumental splendour!

Moreover, I was shocked by the depth of the stations. Metro in Moscow was built with a double purpose: transport and bomb shelter in case of nuclear war. At some stations, the descent to the subway on an escalator takes more than 5 minutes. Their depth exceeds the height of the twenty-storey building! At first, I was not too fond of such a deep descent underground. It cost a lot of effort to overcome the fear of movement on high-speed trains so deep under the ground and even under the bottom of the Moskva River.

At first, all the metro stations in Moscow seemed to me grand. Over time, I saw them better and even had the most beloved ones. Almost all of them are concentrated in the centre, in the area of the Koltsevaya line. There are 222 stations in the Moscow Metro, 44 of which are recognized as cultural heritage sites and more than 40 are architectural monuments.

Later, Sasha explained to me why these stations are so magnificent. The life of people in the Soviet Union was poor; they barely had enough money to pay for the basics. To create a positive mood, the government ordered the construction of monumental buildings for the common people. So everyone could feel hooked into the universal national wealth, feel him- / herself popular aristocracy. This, of course, had its own wisdom.

Metro in Moscow cannot be compared with the metro in other cities of the world. It is just transport there. Metro in Moscow is the highest achievement of 20th century architecture in Russia and the entire former Soviet Union. The best Soviet architects created underground stations; huge amounts of money were invested in their construction from the state budget and the best materials (such as granite and marble) were used.

The country’s leadership set the task of making the metro a business card of the country. It was assumed that foreigners who visited Moscow would be shocked by the power and magnificence of the Soviet state and the metro would become a symbol of the well-being and success of the people building communism.

The ideological underbrush wore off, communism turned out to be utopia, the Soviet state collapsed. However, the metro in Moscow really became the hallmark of the Russian state, the highest achievement of twentieth-century architecture for the whole huge country that participated in its creation.

I think that the most amazing station of the Moscow Metro is Komsomolskaya. The station was built shortly after the end of the Second World War, when the country was hardly restored after the most severe destruction. It is all the more remarkable that in such a difficult period people created such magnificent underground structures that surpass the ground palaces.

Komsomolskaya really looks like a palace. Chandeliers, which in their magnificence I can only compare with the chandeliers from the greatest museum in the world, — the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg — are hanged from the ceiling. The floor and walls of Komsomolskaya station are made of valuable species of granite and marble.

Majestic columns stand along the aprons. The height of the hall reaches 9 meters, i. e. this is the highest metro station. The lobby and ceiling of Komsomolskaya station is decorated with huge mosaic panels of precious stones. Six mosaics depict the Great Russian generals: Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, Alexander Suvorov, Mikhail Kutuzov, Soviet soldiers and officers at the walls of the Reichstag.

In second place, after Komsomolskaya, I put Ploshchad Revolyutsii station in my own rating of the magnificence of the Moscow Metro. This station is more like a museum, which exhibits numerous statues. During Soviet times, the style of “socialist realism” dominated. All figures depict ordinary people: workers, athletes, military, pilots, etc. At the same time, they are made with such skill that they resemble living people.

Sculptures of people and animals at Ploshchad Revolyutsii station have acquired with folklore. People began to attribute magical properties to them. For many people, touching the nose of the dogs at the sculptures of the border guards has become an obligatory exercise. As a result of millions of touches, the bronze dog noses were polished to such brilliance that they shine like gold.

The third place in my own rating of the magnificence of the Moscow Metro goes to Arbatskaya station. This station was built near the Moscow Kremlin; a special Russian style is felt in its rich architecture. Arbatskaya station is similar to the huge stone chambers of ancient towers. It is decorated with outstanding chandeliers that are worthy of being represented by the best museums. This is one of the largest and most beautiful stations of the Moscow Metro.

There are so many outstanding metro stations in Moscow that I cannot remember the names of even half of them. I love Kievskaya, Taganskaya, and Mayakovskaya very much. Wherever you go, you go to a museum or a palace. The majesty of the decoration of the Moscow Metro greatly brightens your trip and distracts your attention from the hustle and bustle.

I do not advise anyone to be there at rush hour. To truly enjoy the Moscow Metro, it is better to choose the least crowded time of day. The most pleasant thing is to be in the metro in the summertime, on weekends, when most of the citizens are in the country or on holidays. It is also good to get acquainted with the Moscow Metro in the late hours, from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m.

On my first visit to Moscow, Sasha and I lived near Baumanskaya metro station. Deep descent to the subway with the help of the escalator, two stations to Ploshchad Revolyutsii station, a long ascent from the depth by the escalator — after 15 minutes we came to the surface near the Red Square and the Kremlin. That was my first route in the Moscow Metro.


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