We at MeetnGreetMe are glad to help you explore new destinations with our local people and discover them off the beaten track. Previously, we explored Moscow, Russia in Moscow City Guide with our great local Natalia and learnt more about Sergiev Posad and the Trinity St. Sergius Lavra which are part of the historic Russian Golden Ring.
Today we are pleased to bring to you an exclusive Moscow architectural guide to let you see some other unique buildings of the capital, except for the Kremlin and Red Square. Architecture has another language compared to literature, music and art. However, it still speaks volumes about the culture, history and soul of the nation.
Let’s walk along Moscow streets and learn about some must-see buildings and structures.
Moscow metropolitan (or simply metro) tops our architectural guide. It was first opened on May 15, 1935. Moscow metro is believed to be one of the busiest in the whole world with 10 000 trains passing 194 stations daily. Speaking about ‘the … in the whole world’, Moscow underground is also the world record-holder in on-time departures and arrivals as well as believed to be one of the most beautiful ones. Indeed, nowhere else would you be able to find so much marble, chandeliers, decorations and high ceilings with ornaments. In fact, 44 stations are listed as cultural heritage sites.
There is a legend concerning the appearance of Moscow brown circle line. It was not included in the original plan. During discussion with Joseph Stalin he put a cup of coffee on the map leaving a brown mark on it in the city centre. Stalin liked this idea and ordered the circle line to be constructed in Moscow.
When you go by metro, make sure you leave the train at Vorobyovy Gory. It was the first station in the world to be situated on a bridge. The view from this metro station is truly magnificent: the Moscow river below, Stalin Empire style buildings on the one side, the vibrant and spacious Gorky park on the other, and Cathedral of Christ the Saviour at a distance.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Address: Volkhonka Str 15 (Kropotkinskaya metro station)
One of the most controversial, grandiose and magnificent buildings in Moscow is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Both the exterior and interior of the cathedral are impressive and leave no one indifferent to its splendour, however, the story of this place is much more complicated.
It was built on site of an old church in the 19th century in Moscow to commemorate victory over Napoleon. During Stalin’s rule the original was destroyed because of Stalin’s plans to erect an enormous 315-m tall Palace of Soviets with a huge statue of Lenin. However, the Second War broke out and only the foundation was laid.
During Nikita Khruschev’s rule this place was turned into a swimming pool. It was the world’s largest swimming pool for 50 years where the temperature was always kept at the level of 27 C. It created strong fog in the area which resulted in many swimmers’ deaths.The modern cathedral was erected in 1997 when Moscow’s mayor Luzhkov united his forces with the Orthodox Church for an ambitious $360 mln construction project.
Today the Cathedral of Christ the Savior draws many tourists from all over the world. However, when you go there make sure you aren’t wearing shorts and T-shirts without sleeves as security guards don’t allow visitors to enter. Private and exclusive exhibitions are often organized in “Art Center. Moscow” which is believed to be one of the most unusual Moscow painting museums.
The Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (VDNKh)
Address: VDNKh Metro Station
VDNKh is a permanent trade show, park and amusement park in Moscow. The area of this place comprises 2,3 mln square metres with 400 buildings there where you can find everything to cater for your needs and interests, such as pavilions with exhibitions, fountains, the Green Theatre, entertainment and educational centres, museums, a luna-park, cosmonautics museum, spacecraft and the centre of marine oceanography featuring an impressive multitude of aquariums and species of sea creatures from all the over world.
All buildings in this area have their special exterior as many of them were designed in the old Soviet times to depict every state in the USSR. They were commissioned by Putin to be restored to their former appearance. What’s more, all gardens have red and white roses as in Lenin’s times, also at Putin’s request.
Cosmonauts Alley with an impressive sculpture and the famous 25-m tall Worker and Kolkhoz Woman statue (featured at the beginning of many Soviet films) are situated just outside the main entrance.It also borders with Botanical Gardens and a small Ostankino park. In fact, if you head for the Green Theatre you will be able to see the famous Ostankino Tower.
This is a really must-see place in Moscow. When you are here in good weather, don’t forget to rent a bike or rollerblades. This will ease and speed up your movement in the area and you will be able to see much more.
House of Friendship With Peoples of Foreign Countries
Address: Vozdvizhenka Str 16 (Arbatskaya metro station)
As you head to or from Arbat make sure you don’t miss this wonderful building. Today this place is a venue for official receptions and conferences in Moscow. Tourists are not admitted inside, however, exterior is definitely worth seeing.
This white birthday-cake-looking castle was built in 1899 for an eccentric merchant Arseny Morozov. During his trip to Spain he was impressed by the Moorish castle and patio designs, so on coming back home he commissioned his own Moorish caste studded with seashells to be erected. His family and friends didn’t approve of this because they considered this to be crazy. In fact, all upper class representatives laughed at Morozov’s house and believed it to be utterly inappropriate.
His mother even said to him, “Until now only I knew that you were mad. Now everyone will know that”.
However, in the open-minded modern society people don’t look down on Morozov’s idea and many tourists and citizens alike fancy taking a few snapshots when passing by.
Address: Teatralny dr., 1 (between Teatralnaya and Kuznetski Most metro stations)
The building of Bolshoi Theatre is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating ones in Moscow with its neoclassical style and Imperial decor. And it’s no surprise, as the Russian ballet is considered to be the best one in the whole world and the performances are always beyond expectation. Do you doubt that? Then come and see for yourself!
As a rule, getting tickets here can turn into a nightmare as they are usually quite expensive and should be booked in advance. So make sure you hire a MeetnGreeter in Moscow beforehand to help you out.
Meanwhile, let’s focus on the building itself. Its iconic neoclassical façade is depicted on the Russian 100-ruble banknote.
It combines three architectural styles, and there is a reason why. The current theatre was built between 1821 and 1824 designed by Andrei Mikhailov. Since then the theatre has been reconstructed a few times due to planned renovations, fires and damages received during the Second World War. From July 2005 until October 2011 the Bolshoi Theatre underwent many renovations as engineers found out that 75% of the structure was unstable. The rebuilding was an extremely expensive endeavor all funded by the federal government. It is believed that the costs exceeded $688 mln.
The State Historical Museum
Address: Red Square 1 (close to Okhotny Ryad, Ploschad Revolyutsii and Teatralnaya metro stations)
The museum established in 1872 was opened in 1894 in Moscow to mark the coronation of Alexander III. It houses various archaeological and anthropological collections with millions of exhibits to tell a thousand-year Russian history to the latest scientific methodology.
The present museum in Moscow was built in neo-Russian style according to the design by Vladimir Sherwood (his father had English background, hence he has such a surname). Its interiors are the brightest example of Russian Revivalism which is equivalent to the Neo Gothic movement. Red brick towers and cornices are united into an imposing building of the State Historical Museum just at the Red Square.
We hope you enjoyed exploring the Russian capital with MeetnGreetMe architectural Moscow guide. Stay tuned for more!