Monuments & Buildings, Moscow
The so called Stalin's Seven Sisters are a group of neoclassic Stalin-era buildings which were built in the 1950's and nowadays still dominate the skyline of Moscow.
The Seven Sisters are the Hotel Leningradskaya, the Hotel Ukraina, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Transport, the Moscow State University (MGU) and the Block of Flats on Kotelnicheskaya enbankment and on Krasnaya Presnya.
There were even plans for an eighth sister, but the Palace of Soviets was never built.
Please also read my "Things to do tips" for more detailed information about some of the buildings.
Moscow has 8 main train stations, which are all connected to the metro. Most of them are located on the circle metro line (brown line).
Only near the metro station "Komsomolskaya" you find three trains stations: Yaroslavskiy Vokzal for trains to Siberia, Leningradskiy Vokzal for trains to St. Petersburg and Kazanskiy Station for trains to Central Asia.
The other train stations are Belorusskiy, Rizhskiy, Kievskiy, Kurskiy and Paveletskiy Vokzal.
Most of the train stations are well worth a visit both from the outside and the inside.
My favourite train station in Moscow is Kazanskiy Vokzal. For more information about this station, please have a look at my "Of the beaten Path" tips".
The Moscow International Business Centre (MIBC), often referred to as Moscow City, is a newly built commercial district in Moscow.
First plannings of it started in 1992 and if money allows the project should be finished by 2012.
The district consists of about 25 new buildings such as offices, hotels, apartments, restaurants, shops and entertainment centres. Most of these are skyscrapers of more than 100 m in height.
The district is even home to Europe's two tallest buildings: The 302 metre tall City of Capitals Moscow Tower (2009) and the 269 metre tall Naberezhnaya Tower (2007).
The Moscow International Business Centre (MIBC) is situated on the Krasnopresnenskaya embankment of the river Moskva, approximately 4 km west of Red Square. The nearest metro stop is "Mezhdunarodnaya" on the light blue line.
There is no doubt about it, the look and feel of Moscow is changing quickly, mostly because of a lot of redevelopment of older buildings, which are being torn (or burnt) down to make room for newer, and bigger ones.
Part of this trend is being driven by city hall and their family members that also own the biggest construction firm in Moscow. Technically, most of the land is not owned, but leased from the City of Moscow. However, this land trades on a murkish market, where present tenants suddenly find they have very few rights. For example, if a building is declared by city inspectors to be unsound, it may be torn down and a new one built. Of course, the current tenants have no right to live in the new building, and are instead resettled to outlying areas.
Fondest memory: There is a mini-industry of workers that go around doing structural inspections and repairs, but many suspect they are deliberately undermining sound foundations and roofs to make them uninhabitable and therefore subject to redevelopment. The local politicians and their cronies can then benefit handsomely from this construction.
Also in Moscow, bribes can account for up to two thirds of the price of a new building. The building code is so labryntine that it is basically impossible to follow all the regulations. Therefore, in order to complete a building on time and on budget, certain public figures are bribed. This can have disasterous consequences if the building is unsound because corners had to be cut in order to pay for the bribes and still remain competitive. This is suspected in the collapse of the water park last year killing hundreds and injuring more. No one yet, except the Turkish construction company has been charged. Whatever their role, they certainly were not the only ones who are to blame for this accident.
During 1947 to celebrate the 800 anniversary of the foundation of Moscow Stalin wanted to build seven giant palaces as, he thought that the city, compared to american ones, suffered a lack of big palaces(see if someone ever try to imitate good american thing), so with the new construction the city centre would have been more appropriate.To build the sisters Stalin called the architect Oltarzhevsky who worked on the costruction of some american buildings and who was rescued from gulag just in time for the new project.
Fondest memory: I must admitt I will miss some of these cold huge buildings that showed you the way to go when you got lost in smaller streets.
The Red Gates in Moscow used to be a rare example of a triumphal arch built to an exuberantly baroque design.
The original gate, thought to be the first triumphal arch in Russia, was built in wood on behest of Peter the Great to commemorate his victory at Poltava in 1709. In 1753 the wooden arch was demolished and replaced with a stone one.
Fondest memory: The Arch and a neighbouring church were demolished in 1928 when the avenue they were located on, Sadovoye Koltso was widened according to Lazar Kaganovich's Moscow redevelopment plan. The square that they stood upon was still known as Krasniye Vorota (Red Gates), and in 1935 a metro station of the same name opened. In 1953 one of the famous Stalin's skyscrapers was erected on the square. The square was renamed Lermontovskaya after the Russian author Lermontov in 1962 and was renamed back to Krasniye Vorota in 1986. Some decorative elements of the gate, such as the statue of angel, are exhibited in the Moscow City Museum. Whilst the question of rebuilding the arch has been raised several times, due to the traffic congestion of the square that seems unlikely.
At the end of Mokhovaya Street one can see a beautiful building of white stone, known as the Pashkov House. It was built by the best Moscow architect, Bajenov, by order of a rich landowner Pashkov.
There are a lot of legends about it, and according to one of them there is a secret passage to the Kremlin under the house.
In the middle of the 19th century the Rumyantsev Museum was organized in the house. Rumyantsev had collected books since his childhood. He gave money for different expeditions, and by the end of his life had gathered a large collection of ancient coins and rare manuscripts. He wanted the museum to become a Russian national museum, but unfortunately, the Count didn’t live to see it. Still, the museum did not stop enriching its collections. Tsar Alexander II offered it the famous painting “Appearance of Christ before the People” by Ivanov and some other works from the Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg.
After the Revolution the museum was closed and its paintings and sculptures were given to the Tretyakov Art Gallery and to the Museum of Fine Arts. The collection of books served as the basis for the Russian State Library that is located in the Pashokov House.
Fondest memory: Now After a 14-year hiatus, RF Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi and the Russian State Library announced the launch of a full-scale renovation of the moribund Pashkov House
The names of Minin and Pojarsky are connected with the fight against the Polish invaders that wanted to capture the Russian throne in the beginning of the 17th century.
The two men were at the head of the irregular army, and after their death Moscow citizens decided to pay homage to them by erecting a monument.
Money was brought from all over Russia, and in 1818 the memorial with the inscription "To citizen Minin and Prince Pojarsky from a grateful Russia" was unveiled.
Fondest memory: Today the monument is situated near St. Basil's Cathedral, but before it was placed in the center of Red Square and the raised arm pointing to the Kremlin seemed to tell us: "We saved the heart of the city from the enemy". At present the sense of the gesture is lost.
The Garden Ring, also known as the "B" Ring is a circular avenue in the centre of Moscow.
Historically Moscow was surrounded by a series of fortifications one of which was Zemlyanoi Val. After the 1812 Moscow Fire the city began rapidly expanding beyond it and the Val was razed and the moat around it filled up. The space between buildings was neatly rearranged into a pleasant avenue consisting of cobblestoned roads and sidewalks no wider than 25 metres and public gardens (hence the name) and boulevards taking place in the open space. In the 1870s, a monorail for horsecars called konka (êîíêà) was installed, and later replaced by a tram in 1908. This was known as the "B" route (or a "bug" (áóêàøêà) in popular language).
Fondest memory: At the turn of the 20th century, the avenue saw intensive construction of multistorey commercial, administrative, and residential buildings. Many streets and squares of the Garden Ring did not escape heavy street fighting in the unrests of 1905 and 1917 revolutions. In the 1930s, coinciding with Lazar Kaganovich's Moscow redevelopment plan the Garden Ring was widened (at the expense of public gardens). In 1936-1937, trolleys replaced the dismantled tram lines. During the war solid fortifications were installed in some parts of the Garden Ring. The ring also saw the infamous parade of German Prisoners in 1944. In 1948-1954, three out of seven skyscrapers were erected on the Garden Ring. In the early 1950, the Koltsevaya Line of the Moscow Metro was put in operation, with southern circumference following the Garden Ring. Starting from the 1960s the avenue was gradually transformed into a highway with tunnels, overpasses, and pedestrian subways replacing streetlights. Currently plans exist to complete the transformation and install a solid barrier in the centre dividing the direction of traffic.
Exhibition of the achievements of national economy of the USSR
This former Exhibition of Economic Achievement was at one time a permanent World Expo of the great glories of Soviet--and particularly Stalinist--rule. It began in 1939 as the All-Union Agricultural Exposition, a celebration of the fruits of Stalinist progress, and many of its most grandiose elements date from that period. In ensuing decades the VDNKh was revived and eventually established on a permanent basis, becoming an exhibition of the finest achievments of the Soviet state. While the VDNKh is slowly restructuring itself to a less idealistic showroom for consumer goods from all over the world, it remains a truly outstanding place to visit, a kind of crazed Soviet visionary's wonderland. VDNKh encompasses a wide area and is filled with pavilions for everything from grain and furs to atomic energy. Many of these exhibition spaces still offer interesting and informative displays. However, what many find most fascinating is the overall dimension and vision of Soviet state imagination.
The district of the VDNKh metro station is another place to visit. It is almost as if you have walked into a Stalinist Disney World.
Fondest memory: Modern constructions stand peacefully side by side with remarkable monuments of the past. The indissoluble unity of the national economy is symbolized by the world-renowned sculpture of V. Mukhina, “The Worker and the Collective-Farm Women”. The 24-metre high figures, carrying hammers and sickles, portray the romance, enthusiasm and powerful impulse of the first Soviet five-year plans.
now it is one of the most popular places where people may walk and entertain. Almost all of the beautiful pavilions of VDNKh serve nowadays as the fair of low-guality goods of unknown origin.
A stunning example of Russian Revivalist architecture, the Polytechnical Museum was built in 1877.
Although the museum is open (displays on science and technology), we didn't enter. We were far more interested in admiring the exterior decoration.
Fondest memory: The variety of architecture in Moscow ~ old and new ~ was fascinating. Add good weather and good walking shoes to this. . .suddenly you have the prime ingredients of my ideal vacation (and my mom's, too).
Please see my Architectural Treasures travelogue, for some photos of buildings (other than the ones in the tips) that caught our attention.
Yury Nikulin was the great movie artist and clown in soviet time. He was like a a breath of fresh air...
"I always believed that those circus people who compel others to burst out laughing are the most important ones"- Yury Nikulin.
Hehad the title the 'National Artist of the USSR' and in this case it's true.
Fondest memory: His monument stays near the old Moscow circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, where he was a General Manager and Artistic Director 1982 - 1997.
Favorite thing: This monument's purpose is unknown to me. It sure is ugly though. One thing that is nice about it is that you can see it from a long way away. At its base is the Art Museo area of Park Statue, which is a can't miss.
Pavel Tretiakov, riche marchand et fabricant de textile, commença à acheter des oeuvres d'artistes russes en 1856 et s'intéressa aux Ambulants.
Sa collection pris de l'importance, il décida d'agrandir son hôtel particulier et d'en faire un musée.
En 1892, il fit don de son musée privé d'art russe à la ville de Moscou et dirigea la galerie pendant les 6 dernières années de sa vie. Son frère, Sergueï, légua également un certain nombre d'œuvres et de nombreuses collections privées furent nationalisées par le régime soviétique.
C'est actuellement la plus grande collection d'art russe du monde. L'étonnante façade, réalisée d'après les dessins de l'artiste Victor Vasnetsov, est ornée en son centre d'un bas-relief représentant Saint-Georges et le dragon. Une aile supplémentaire fut ajoutée à la galerie en 1930.
Pavel Tretiakov, rich merchant and manufacturer of textile, began to buy Russian artist works in 1856 and were interested in the Itinerant.
His collection took the importance, it decided to enlarge his particular hotel and to make a museum of it.
In 1892, he made grant of his private museum of Russian art in the city of Moscow and directed the gallery during the last 6 years of his life. His brother, Sergueï, also bequeathed a certain number of works and numerous private collections were nationalized by the soviet regime.
It is currently the biggest collection of Russian art of the world. The astonish facade, achieved according to the drawings of artist Victor Vasnetsov, is decorated in its center of a bas-relief representing Saint - Georges and the dragon. A supplementary wing was added to the gallery in 1930.
During last decade shape of Moscow has been changed significantly.
My tips regarding the tallest buildings in Europe and Russia are getting old very rapidly. So, I even do not want to update it so often.
Just enjoy pictures.