Archive for the ‘Moscow’ Category

Moscow Metro: More than just mass transit!

June 20, 2010

Komsomolskaya station was opened in 1952 and is one of Moscow's most spectacular stations.

When people think of their local mass transit or public transport systems, most think of it merely in terms of getting from A to B. A few will also realise that it plays an important role in enhancing the economic and social fabric of a city and providing environmental benefits. But how many people think of it as an opportunity for providing a means of expressing the key values of their society through art work? Not many I would imagine. This is exactly what the Moscow Metro has done through the design of its subway stations since it opened in 1935.

The Moscow Metro is a true people moving machine, transporting about 8 million people daily making it the second busiest metro (subway for Americans) in the world after Tokyo’s. Not only is it highly efficient, but it is also arguably, the most beautiful metro system in the world. All across the network there are different designs with varieties of marble, statues, chandeliers and decorations adorning each station, resulting in the “underground palaces” that exist today.

The metro was initiated during a period when Stalin was leader and was the biggest project undertaken at the time. Stalin saw the metro as a way of expressing the greatness of Soviet Socialism, so the stations were decorated with paintings, statues and stained glass windows featuring scientists, soldiers, writers and musicians. However, many of the stations were “de-Stalinised” following his death in 1953 although one station recently saw his name return to the metro amongst much controversy from human activists. Some of the stations have statues that are of such significance that they are rubbed for good luck, such as those at Ploshchad Revolyutsii.

Ploshchad Revolyutsii's famous bronze statues, so significant to local Moscovites that they are rubbed for good luck.

Even today, the Moscow Metro is still being expanded to improve the connectivity of the metro system to outlying areas, and the stations being built today still follow the grand standards of those that were previously constructed. Moscow Metro highlights how well artistically designed stations reflect the history and values of the people who use them.