Metro misery

Moscow Travel Blog

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Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii (Moscow, Russia)

We start our morning at the metro station nearby our hotel, determined what keeps going wrong when we count the number of stations we have to pass before we exit at the station we need to be at. But no matter how hard we think about it, and how long we keep staring at the different metro maps, both in Roman and in Cyrillic signs, we are still completely puzzled.

It’s our goal to have a look at different metro stations though, we don’t care how much trouble it will be to get there. Metro stations of Moscow are famous throughout the world because their halls and platforms look like underground palaces with chandeliers, statues and mosaics.

We want to start by going to the station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii, and against better judgement we count the number of stations we have to pass before reaching it.

Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii (Moscow, Russia)
It probably won’t work, but we have no idea how else to reach it. We manage to get to the right platform and pick the train in the right direction and get on the dilapidated train. This time I am so focused starting out the window, into to the darkness of the metro tunnels, to count the number of stations, that I notice a really short glitch between two stops. I start to think about it, and realize it could be a metro station that is no longer in use, but still on every map. It could be there are signs at stations and announcements on the speakers at the station and in the train telling people that there is no stop at that station, but since we can’t read Cyrillic and don’t understand Russian, this information is lost on us poor travelers…

We instantly alter are counting of stations and miraculously end up at the station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii as planned.

Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii (Moscow, Russia)
We finally cracked the Moscovian metro code! Instantly a weight has been lifted of our shoulders, since we were starting to feel like idiots for not understanding how to use this metro system. But now we can truly enjoy visiting the underground palaces. 

The central hall of metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoetsii is full of life-size statues of ordinary Russian citizens, like farmers. They helped built the Soviet state and are being honoured by these bronze coloured images. The next station we visit (without making any mistakes, although it is still hard to find the right platform at large stations) is Majakovskaja. This place has ceilings with mosaics of airplanes and sport scenes.

Usually, in other major European capitals, metro stations tend to be filthy and stink of urine.

Metro station Majakovskaja (Moscow, Russia)
But here in Moscow everything is clean, although the trains and ticket booths are old fashioned in an Eastern European style. It’s truly unique to visit something that is so ordinary as a metro station, and realize that something that is useful doesn’t have to have an ordinary and basic look. It’s just a pity that when you take those endless escalators down, at your left side there is an equally endless stream of extremely grouchy looking Russians coming up. It is my third day in Russia, but I can’t recall seeing anybody smile. At the trains, in restaurants, in shops, in the streets, nobody seems to make a joke or have the urge to tell a friend something funny. Everybody is grumpy and sullen. I suppose it’s a Russian thing.

The next station we visit is the station Beloroesskaja.

Metro station Majakovskaja (Moscow, Russia)
This station was finished in 1954 and has ceiling mosaics of healthy and happy looking farmers (it’s not likely they are Russian). These images weren’t made long after the horrible famine that hit the country side as a result of Stalin’s cultivation project, making it obvious this is socialist propaganda. Is this the reason why people in Moscow have forgotten how to smile, because of their dark history?

Last stop on our metro tour is the station Kievskaja. It’s walls are full of mosaics that show the friendship of Russia with the Ukraine, country side images and portraits of the ever popular Lenin. No matter how capitalist the country may get, Lenin still appears to be a nationwide hero.

When we resurface from our underground tour, we are near the Red Square and walk to Ulitsa Varvarka, which claims to be the oldest street in Moscow.

Rens at the metro (Moscow, Russia)
Once this neigbourhood was the living area of the traders who sold their wares on the Red Square. According to our guide book this street has more churches than any street in the city, and has some fascinating, lesser known sights that show the more personal side of life in medieval Moscow.

 One of the most prominent buildings, at Varvarka 6, is the Rossia Hotel. It is a monumental concrete block with 3200 rooms, built in the late sixties, and a perfect example of horrible socialist architecture. At Varvarka 4 is the English court, also known as the Old English Embassy. Originally this was a palace built for the wealthy merchant Bobrishchev around the 16thcentury, but not long after it was finished it was taken by Ivan the Terrible and given to a delegation of English merchants who arrived in 1553.

Metro station Beloroesskaja (Moscow, Russia)
At Varvarka 3 is the Stary Gostiny Dvor, an late baroque trading arcade build in the 18thcentury. It was built to replace the muddle of stalls and warehouses that had stood at this spot for hundreds of years.

At Varvarka 8 we find the reason why we had wanted to come to this street, the Znamensky Monastery, a building that is inextricably linked to the Romanov family. I have read many books about the unfortunate last Romanov family, always intrigued by the fact that people had gotten so insane they felt the need to shoot children just because they were the son and daughters of a dictator. It is my first chance to get a true taste of their life, because before Mikhail I, the first Romanov Tsar, got to power, the Romanov family had long been prominent aristocrats.

Metro station Beloroesskaja (Moscow, Russia)
After the family moved to the Kremlin, the building was turned into a monastery, nowadays it also houses a museum showing the lifestyle of Moscow’s medieval nobility. But unfortunately the monastery is closed. There is a sign at the door, but it is in Russian, so we have no idea if it is useful to come back later. We decide to take our loss and move on.

We take the metro (which is getting easier by the minute now that we are not bothered by that closed station) and arrive at Ulitsa Arbat, the modern shopping area of Moscow. I don’t know why exactly, but I always enjoy strolling through popular shopping streets in major cities. It interests me what local people enjoy to buy in clothing, household items, food and knickknacks. Ulitsa Arbat is a very broad pedestrian only street, with uninviting shops on either side and souvenir stalls in the centre.

Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, Russia)
There is no atmosphere what so ever, probably because again nobody is enjoying themselves there. The only interesting things to see between the grey and gloomy architecture are the high building of Foreign Affairs and the front of a casino that is shaped like a large steam boat.

When a hefty rain shower breaks loose, we end up finding shelter in the Hard Rock Café. Later that evening we have dinner in the nearby Vostochny Kvartal, an Uzbek restaurant that is not just very atmospheric, it has great food for an excellent price as well.

fransglobal says:
Enjoying reading your blog Lislore. It's a great guide for me here in Moscow.

And Jeroen, don't believe what you read. Come and see for yourself.
Posted on: Apr 22, 2011
Jeroenadmiraal says:
I find Russia to be fascinating and I really would like to go there one day, but I am hesitant to go because I got the image that Russians are all drunk and dangerous. I suppose that is not true though.
Posted on: Apr 22, 2011
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Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoet…
Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoe…
Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoet…
Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoe…
Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoet…
Metro station Plosjtsjad Revoljoe…
Metro station Majakovskaja (Moscow…
Metro station Majakovskaja (Mosco…
Metro station Majakovskaja (Moscow…
Metro station Majakovskaja (Mosco…
Rens at the metro (Moscow, Russia)
Rens at the metro (Moscow, Russia)
Metro station Beloroesskaja (Mosco…
Metro station Beloroesskaja (Mosc…
Metro station Beloroesskaja (Mosco…
Metro station Beloroesskaja (Mosc…
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, R…
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, …
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, R…
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, …
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, R…
Metro station Kievskaja (Moscow, …
The Znamensky Monastery (Moscow, R…
The Znamensky Monastery (Moscow, …
A casino shaped like a large steam…
A casino shaped like a large stea…
Ulitsa Arbat (Moscow, Russia)
Ulitsa Arbat (Moscow, Russia)
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildin…
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildi…
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildin…
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildi…
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildin…
Ulitsa Arbat with the high buildi…
Me in Uzbek restaurant Vostochny K…
Me in Uzbek restaurant Vostochny …
Taking the metro back to the hotel…
Taking the metro back to the hote…
Taking the metro back to the hotel…
Taking the metro back to the hote…
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