And now for the last part of the Moscow Metro series: the final four stations.
Новослободская – Novoslobodskaya
Novoslobodskaya was my favourite metro station of all we visited. It made me think of Alice in Wonderland – in particular the opium-smoking caterpillar. I’m not sure why, but to me the design looked a little trippy. Opening in 1952, it seems very different to most of the others we saw from the same era. The vaulted main aisle looked mildly like a crypt deep underground, with an arched white ceiling and pinkish-beige Ural marble detailing the arched passageways leading to the platforms on either side. In between the passageways, the pylons are decorated with vibrantly coloured and beautifully detailed stained glass panels. The stained glass panels were made by Latvian artists – another example of the wealth of the Soviet empire being displayed in the metro.
The floor was tiled in a chessboard pattern in light and dark grey, and the marble facings trimmed with polished brass. From the vaulted ceiling hung gorgeously simple art-deco light fittings.
I could have stayed here for hours. It was incredible.
Партизанская – Partizanskaya
Opened in 1944 but known until 2005 as Izmailovsky Park – as it’s the closest stations to the Izmailovsky Kremlin – the name was changed on the 60th anniversary of Soviet victory to better reflect the station’s theme.
The station is rather unusual as it has three tracks rather than the normal two tracks. The third line, which runs down the centre of the station, was built to handle crowds from a planned stadium nearby that never got built due to WWII. The walls and pillars of the station are decorated with bas-reliefs depicting Russian partisans, and the two pillars by the stairs bear statues honouring Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya and Matvey Kuzmin, two Soviet partisans killed in WWII. At the top of the stairs is a large sculptural group entitled ‘Partizans’, with the inscription ‘To Partisans and Partisan Glory’.
It definitely doesn’t come close to the architectural beauty of some other stations, but is interesting nonetheless due to its political messages and extra track.
Площадь Революции – Ploshschad Revolyutsii
Ploshchad Revolyutsii is probably one of the best known metro stations, as it’s located at the Red Square. The name translates as Revolution Square. Opened in 1938, this station wasn’t one of my favourites for its looks, but was one of the most fascinating for the way that people interacted with it. Ploshchad Revolyutsii has a main aisle of red and yellow marble arches atop pillars faced in black Armenian marble. I found it rather dark and gloomy, but for the statues. Each archway leading to the platforms is flanked by two statues depicting people of the Soviet Union – typifying valued groups and trying to represent a broad section of the community. It features farmers, soldiers, students, industrial workers, children and more. These statues in bronze seem very popular with the locals, and really with everyone.
Unconsciously I found myself touching each one as I walked past and I soon realised that everyone does this. A closer look at the statues reveals a shiny, gold section polished by the touch of passers-by. A dog has a golden nose, a soldier a golden gun, a chicken golden wings and a woman golden shoes and breasts. [Sure, they’re a little higher up but they still show signs of regular fondling!]
We watched from the platform as hordes of people rushed off the trains, many unthinkingly brushing their hands across the figure they passed. I found it interesting – I don’t know whether it’s meant to be lucky, or if it’s just something that people do naturally. At this station above all others, people seemed to be involved with the art and architecture – and I’m sure Stalin would have approved. Interaction with his Soviet Realism come to life. While people look at the mosaics and the stained glass and paintings of other stations, only at this one did we see multitudes of people feeling the need to touch, to participate in their surroundings.
Проспект Мира – Prospekt Mira
Prospekt Mira, opened in 1952, has a floral design reflecting that it was originally named after the nearby Botanical Garden of the Moscow University. The name was changed in 1958. Floral elements and motifs can be found throughout the main aisle and the platforms. With flared white marble pylons topped with floral bas-reliefs, and a white vaulted ceiling with a diamond pattern and small, cylindrical chandeliers, it’s once again a different design to all the others. Down the main aisle it’s all white and beige and gold, but the station walls are lined in red marble giving the platforms a darker feel.