Moscow metro tour

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Moscow’s metro features many treasures to behold below ground.

This past weekend I had the chance to take a tour of Moscow’s underground metro. While subway stations are not normally associated with the word beautiful, Moscow’s really take the cake. Ornate and unique, each station stands as an individual work of architectural and decorative genius. In a city that spends so much time in darkness (17 hours today!), these hidden gems are heartwarming and good for the soul.

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Komsomolskaya Station features particularly lavish ceilings. The station is named for the Komsomol, or the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, who built it. It was here on the 7th of Sept 1935 that Stalin officially opened the Moscow Metro.

Ground was first broken on the Moscow Metro in 1931. Taking four years to construct, the metro initially spanned the walls of the Kremlin, and was used to transport a blossoming Moscow workforce.

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Mosaic murals dot the ceiling of Belorusskaya Station. It is said that the artist had to warm the tile pieces in his mouth to prepare them to adhere to the ceiling’s surface.

Initially created to impress both the citizens of Moscow as well as Capitalist countries worldwide, the metro served a third purpose – that of a bomb shelter during World War II. Belorusskaya, a station close to my house, was used as a command center during the Battle of Moscow.

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In an all too common Soviet story, Stalin, fearing shared secrets, had the original metro engineers sent to the gulag. Four years later, once it was discovered that their knowledge was still necessary, search parties were sent to retrieve these artists. Tragically, the leader had died but three still remained to continue on and expand the work they had begun.

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No expense was spared and the metro decor became increasingly opulent as the number of stations grew. Some call them the first and last example of the “palaces for the proletariat”.

In 2016, with 203+ stations in its arsenal and more on the way, the Moscow Metro transports 8 million people every day.

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Despite their stained glass surroundings, teenagers in Moscow are just as captivated by the latest YouTube clip as the rest of the world.
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Old school trolley cars give the Moscow Metro added charm – however, they make a racket when in use. We’re definitely not in Seoul anymore!
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Statues display respect at many metro stations, including this one at Belorusskaya – a monument to the strength of the Belarusians during World War II.

I’m told there are secret metro stations within Moscow’s city walls. One such station lies quite close to Stalin’s Bunker. In this city of many secrets, an extensive secret metro system would not surprise me a bit.

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The sculptures at Ploshchad Revolyutsii feature soldiers, teachers, and children with their expectant eyes gazing towards the future. Seen by the gleaming bronze, travelers have rubbed this dog’s nose for good luck on their daily commute.
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Eye-catching mosaics contrast geometric floor tiles in this 16th-meets-18th-Century composition.

As these pictures show, the Moscow Metro offers a beautiful combination of unexpected luxury, classical style, and ease of transportation. History lessons and works of art abound in the most unexpected of corners. I’m looking forward to exploring further during my time here.

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Now departing – this sign reads “exit the station” in Cyrillic.

In just a few days I, too, will be departing to head back to the States for the holidays. It’s been quite a wild few months here in Moscow, exploring this wonderful new city and adjusting to life in Russia. I hope you all get to enjoy time with family and friends this holiday season. Thank you for joining me and being a part of mine! доброй ночи.

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If you would like to see more, take a look at CNN.com’s snapshot of a number of beautiful Moscow Metro stations.

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