On our way from the Red Square to the Moskwa river, we get caught in the pouring rain and escape to the next metro station. Rain is a good opportunity to admire the underground palaces of Moscow.
The first lines of the Metro opened in 1935. New lines are added even today. The Moscow metro is one of the most efficient metros that I have ever come across. No Russian would run in their palaces to catch a train. There is just no need, because the next train is sure to come in about one minute.
Long escalators take the Muscovites into the underground. When I stand on them, I always hear the poem-song “песенка о московском метро” by Bulat Okudzhava (1924-1997):
“Порядок вечен, порядок свят.
Те, что справа, стоят, стоят.
Но те, что идут, всегда должны
держаться левой стороны.”
“The order is eternal, the order is holy.
Those on the right side, they are standing, they are standing.
However, those that are going (or walking), always have to
keep to the left side.”
(I have the cult vinyl record of Bulat Okudzhava that was edited in the sixties or early 70s by “le chant du monde“).
We visited some of the most beautiful metro stations.
Komsomalskaya or Комсомольская
We start with the Komsomalskaya station on the ring. It was built in 1952 and received a prize at the Expo 58 in Brussels.
The hall is illuminated by chandeliers and is decorated with mosaics.
There are also mosaics on the ceiling. They show some heroes of Russian history such as Nevsky (who conquered the Baltic Sea and Karelia for the republic of Novgorod) or Donskoj (who defeated the Mongols for the first time). This is Alexander Nevsky.
At the end of the gangway, we find the mosaic “МИР” which means both “peace” and “world” in Russian.
Majakowskaya or Маяковская
The Majakoswkaya Station has been completed in 1938. The ground is stable here, and hence the columns could be built slimmer, which gives the station a “dancing airiness”. The station won the main prize at the New York exhibition in the same year.
The cupolas are painted with various scenes showing sports such as this ski springer.
We leave the metro here through the exit built into the Tchaikoswky Concert Hall and we have coffee with cake in the cosy attached restaurant. A performance for children ends in the Concert Hall and the young connoisseurs of art fill the restaurant with joy and laughter.
Square of Revolution or Площадь Революции
My favourite metro station is the Square of Revolution (Ploshchad Revoluzij). A line of Soviet heroes forms a guard of honour for the Muscovites rushing by. And there are some statues that shine such as this dog’s nose. The passer-bies quickly touch this nose and utter a wish that will be fulfilled – for sure!
This is statue of the Soviet hero Nikita Karazupa with his dog Indus – he was a frontier-guard.
Also this coq accompanying the handsome, strong woman, seems to bring luck and is therefore shining.
Arbatskaya or Арбатская
Arbatskaya was the last station we visited. It was built in 1953, another solemn palace.
The entry building of the Arbatskaya forms a star.
Turning to the Arbat
The rain has stopped. We leave the Arbatskaya station and stroll through the Old Arbatskaya Street.
Bulat Okudzhava is here. I say hello to him who wrote and sang the poem about the metro of Moscow.
I also like his ode to the Arbat, called “песенка об Арбате” that ends with the words: “Ах Арбат, ах Арбат, ты моё отечество” – “Ach Arbat, ach Arbat, you are my homeland.” Yes, in the late 19th and in the early 20th century, the Arbat was the area, where artists and intellectuals lived. Also Bulgakow made “Master” live here – he is the protagonist of his wonderful novel “Master and Margarita” written in the 20’s and 30’s of the XXth century.
We select a Georgian restaurant in the Arbat and have a delicious dinner with a glass of red Saperavi wine.