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Mastering the Metro
The Moscow Metro is famed for the opulence of some of its stations and there are few tourists who don't venture below the streets to look at these "palaces for the people".
It is also the most efficient way of getting around the city. With roads often clogged with traffic and a truly mysterious one-way system on many of them, the metro network will get you just about anywhere you want to go much faster and with less confusion . The trains are big, fast and very, very frequent.
There are a few things you need to get clear before you set out though.
1. A familiarity with the Cyrillic alphabet is a BIG help. Metro maps give station names in Latin as well as Cyrillic type but this isn't repeated on the station signs, though the line maps on the trains themselves sometimes do. It really pays to familarize yourself with at least the first few letters of the name of the station you are heading for so that you recognize it when you get there.
2. Count the number of stops to your destination, and keep that number in your head. The station names tend to be on the tunnel wall rather than on the platform, fine when you are waiting for the train but not so good as you are coming into the station on the train and frantically looking to see where you are.
3. Interchanges can be confusing. Unlike other cities, Moscow's stations all have individual names and entrances so when you're underground and you want to change to another line you will be looking for a new station name rather than the names of a line. The lines are colour coded and the names of the stations along the line are given, but then you're back to contending with that Cyrillic script again.
4. Buying a block of 10 or 20 rides will save you money, and if 2 of you are travelling together, you can buy 1 block and share it by simply passing the ticket back over the barrier.
5. When you think the escalator you are on is actually heading for the deepest bowels of the earth, remember that many of these stations were built to function as bomb shelters.
Explore Moscow by metro
The most efficient and fastest way to explore Moscow is by metro. It consists of 12 colour coded lines. During peak times the frequency is about 90 seconds.
The metro works on a flat fare, which means that you can travel with a single ticket as long as you like, if you don't leave the metro system.
In 2009 a single ticket cost 26 Rubles, but prices are usually increased every year. Smart cards for 5, 10, 20 or 60 trips are available as well.
Be prepared that everything in the metro is only written in cyrillic and metro station signs at the platforms are rare. In 2009 I noticed that at least in the carriages metro maps in both cyrillic and latin letters can be found.
So the best way to not lose orientation is to listen to the announcements on the trains. Firstly you will hear the arrival station, followed by the next station.
Another useful tip, is to listen to the voice: If it is a female voice, then the train is leaving the city centre; if it is a male voice then the train is heading towards the city centre.
At stations where two or more lines meet, the interchange stations often have different names. This can be a bit confusing. So it comes quite handy to have a metro map with the stations in both cyrillic and latin letters.
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The Moscow Metro
Taking the metro in Moscow is a sightseeing tour by itself. Many of the stations look like palaces with all the marble. mosaics and chandeliers. Apart from that it's a very effective transportation system with train running nearly every minute during peak times.
In 2005 the Moscow Metro celebrated its 60th anniversary.
My favourite stations are Komsomolskaya, Arbatskaya and Mayakovskaya.
One ride is 22 Roubles, a 5-rides ticket costs 105 Roubles (Jan. 09).
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The Moscow Metro is extremely impressive. Each station is exquisitely decorated with extravagant chandeliers, paintings, mosaics, statues, and each has its own unique style and architecture. During busy times the Metro can be quite packed, and especially in these times of heightened terrorist activity it can be quite daunting. Due to this, most subway stations are patrolled and guarded by milicia, and whilst I occasionally saw people getting checked they never gave us any problems during our visit.
The Moscow underground is worldwilde known for its originality and its beauty.
There are also many tails baout foreingers lost for hours in it while trying to understand what that cyrillic name means.Actually most guides about Moscow has an underground map with double languages cyrillic and western.
I must say you need some attention at the beginning but then when you undertsnad what cyrillic name you have to look for it's not hard at all, just remebers that in the stations where you can change lines, names change too so you can find 1 metro station with practically 4 different names depending on the entrance you use.
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Without a doubt, the best way around Moscow, at almost anytime during the morning, day, or evening is by Metro. Only late at night, when the trains stop running, is the preferred option a taxi.
Once when we needed to get from Polyanka Metro downtown, I suggested taking the Metro. It would have taken maximum 10-minutes. As we had guests, my colleagues insisted that we take a car. We sat in traffic for 1 1/2 hours, I kid you not. And, that is not the exception, but day to day rush hour traffic.
The Metro is much faster. Trains come and go every minute to 2-minutes during peak times. Get ready to jump on or jump off, as the doors close quickly.
Do be prepared for some jostling in the crowds, as many people depend on the Metro to get around, and the stairs and escallators funnel all those people into a single file line to get back up to street level.
The perfect spot for pick pockets, so keep your wallet and purse well guarded.
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Metro when I was in Moscow was the main type of transportation which I was used. I bought 2 times tickets for 10 rides. I payed about 250 RUB. I suppose that this ticket is cheaper and are more useful than if you're going to buy every day ticket.
One ride by metro cost about 30 RUB. Also is available to buy tockets for 1, 10, 20 and 60 rides.
Metro in Moscow is the best and the fastest way to get somewhere. Yes, you can spend more than houre going by metro. But this is a Moscow, huge city and it's nothing you can do with it.
Also I need to say that stations in Moscow are wonderful, beautiful! Not all, but some are really architecturally beautiful.
Use the Moscow underground for 3 reasons:
1) It's cheap ! One tiket costs 7 Roubles ( 32R for 1? or 26 for 1$ up to 2nd of Jan 2004)
and with one ticket U can go everywhere without time's limit as long as U don't exit from a station.
2) It's efficient..... trains stop to a station every one-two minutes, every station has a digital clock with the Estimated time of arrival of the next train and the trains theirself are damned fast !!! About 90/100 Km per hour and U can go to any part of the city in few minutes
3) Some stations (especially the ones builded during Stalin's epoque) are beautifully adorned with statue or paintings.
The most beautiful ones are:
The metro (i.e. subway/underground)
The metro is the easiest and most reliable way to get around Moscow. It operates from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Trains run at intervals 2-5 minutes. Its layout is very simple: ten radial lines are joined together by a circular line.
Each radial line has its own name and color on the map, and you can get from practically any station to another with a maximum of two transfers.
Metro stations are marked with the large letter 'M'. To pay for your ride, buy a magnetic card at the station ticket office and lean it against the yellow ring of one of the automatic gates.
The fare for any length trip (whether you make one or two transfers) is 22 roubles (about US $ 0.70) for one-trip ticket. You can save money by buying magnetic cards for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 or 60 trips for less than 22 roubles a trip.
In every car there are several colored metro maps, above the doors is a diagram with the names (in Russian and English) of the stops of the line you are on (the diagram has the color of the line).
The loud speaker announces (in Russian) the next coming stop and the stop you are on.
Be careful: the doors close and open automatically!
Each station has a police post, a first-aid station and local telephones. Plastic cards for telephones can be bought at the metro station ticket office.
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This is the entrance to the Metro Station Arbatskaya (1935). It's in the shape of the Soviet red star ~ a quite plain piece of propaganda.
Although this station had one of the most interesting exteriors, we used the Circle Line (#5) for our self-led metro tour, which you can check out in the travelogue.
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Palaces of the People
The Komsomolskaya station, designed in 1852 by Alexei Shchusev, was a prizewinner at the New York World's Fair in 1938.
The ceiling and walls are decorated with mosaic scenes of military parades and figures from Russian history. In addition to the scenes, there are heavy chandeliers, stucco mouldings and marble floors. The overall effect is incredible.
Of particular note is a Red Square parade mosiac that has been "altered" over time to remove Stalin, Beria and Khrushchev when they fell from favour.
For more of a look at the "Palaces of the People," please see my Travelogue.
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The Underground Palace
The Moscow metro has some beautiful stations with chandeliers and wonderful architecture. It was designed by an elite team of architects, artist and sculptors, opened in 1930. Make sure you know which lines to take and which way to go, as the cyrillic names for stations can hold you up significantly in a very busy place.
Metro-easiest, quickest and cheapest way to travel
After sitting in a few Moscow traffic jams, I really grew to appreciate the speed and ease of using the metro. The clocks on the walls time the interval between trains, we never waited more than 2 minutes for a train. The metro is quite extensive, consisting of 10 lines that cover the city and most of the outskirts.
Single rides are 7 rubles but you can also buy a 10 ride ticket for 50 rubles (also in increments greater than 10 I believe).
Many of the stations are works of art, all of them free of garbage and graffiti. Some of the stations are consideder tourist attractions and many who visit tour the metro.
The stations are marked with a M on the exterior. The stations are relatively easy to navigate with a couple of tips:
-the word for exit looks similar to biloxi
-the stations are not well marked on the side you exit on so count the stations or check the nonexit side of the wall as you pass each station
-often when two or more lines meet, the interchange stations have different names.
-It is much easier to view which stop is on what line when looking at the blown up map in the metro stations
-the metro is growing, look at the maps inside the cars/at the stations as there may be more stations than your guidebook shows
A few more facts: first station opened in 1935, up to 9 million people ride the metro every day (more than London and NY combined), the first stations were designed as bomb shelters and are quite deep.
Moscow METRO (subway) is very safe and economic way to travel.
By the way, many stations are tastefully decorated -- at least they were when I visited in 1992; so you may ride METRO just to look at various stations.
Also, you can buy all kinds of stuff -- watch out for thieves, though. It applies to all large cities, though.
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Moscow Undeground Map / New version
Such "Metro Map" recently appreared in Moscow subway to replace the old ones. On my opinion the previous format was much more easy to understand and read. When I look at the new picture I even could feel my brain's cells are getting into panic cause I can't find even the station where I live!
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