A word or two about the metro. Do use it when visiting Moscow! Don’t be scared, just try it, you will love it! Nowhere else in the world have I seen such a well working metro system. On street level the metro stations are recognisable by the big red M in front. The metro system covers the whole centre of the city in all directions, there is a train every 2,5 minutes, I never had to wait for the next train. In the mornings and during rush hour the interval between two trains is only 90 seconds! The metro stations are spacious, even during rush hour you never feel uncomfortable by the great number of people because the hallways are really wide and long. The escalators are large and fast, and there are often two going up or down. If you stand still on the escalator, stand on the right hand side as to leave space for hurried commuters who want to walk up or down. The incoming and outgoing stream of people is nicely separated as not to hinder one another. The metro system was conceived and built a century ago (opened in 1935) but is still not outdated or outgrown. So even with the larger number of people living and working in Moscow, the metro system still fits the metropolis. People behave politely, there is no pushing, people queue up and give way to commuters descending the train. People give up their seat immediately for older people, pregnant woman and children. On the train each station is announced both in Russian and in English and they also mention the connecting lines.
Walking from one line to another in one station is never too far compared to some Parisian metro stations. Just make sure you have a metro map on hand, on paper or off line on your mobile (Yandex metro map), in both languages. That way you can easily check which platform to take for your destination by comparing the English name with the Cyrillic writing on the boards in the station.
The stations are spotlessly clean and often very gifted musicians use the great acoustics to play music in the halls. Many stations are real pearls of interior architecture and very well worth a visit, so for that reason alone you should use the metro for your transport in Moscow. And yes, it is very cheap. Only 55 cent a ride, if you use the refillable Troyka card. One ride can include several lines in one direction, although on the ring line 5 you can in principle go all around more than once on one ticket. You can use the Troyka card for more than one person; just scan the card on the yellow button, go through the turnstile and give your card to the next person to use it. As long as you do not resurface and continue, you pay 55 cent only. Every time you enter a station you scan your card at the turnstiles and its shows you how much is still left on your card (in rubbles). You can buy one card which can be refilled at the ticket counter (Kacca) in any station. The ticket counters seem to stay open till quite late. The metro runs from 5:30 AM to 1AM. Also good to know: A male voice announces the next station when travelling towards the centre of the city or in the clockwise direction on the circle line, and a female voice – when going away from the centre or in the counter-clockwise direction on the circle line. The lines are also assigned specific colours and numbers for maps and signs. That way you can easily see which way to follow when you get of in one station and need connection to another line. If you plan your metro sightseeing trip carefully, you can visit many of the interesting metro stations for 55 cents only. That must make it one of the cheapest sights to visit in Moscow!
This is the metro tour I used:
I stayed close to Komsomolskaya station so I started there. I entered on Komsomolskaya square. I first took a look at the station where line 1 (red) starts, but then walked to the station for the ring line 5 (brown) which has the more impressive hallway. The early construction of this station was done with the help of youth workers, that is now reflected in the name of the station. It is part of the second stage Northern line dedicated to the theme of post-war labour. Komsomolskaya, however, is a clear exception. It is designed as an illustration of a historical speech given by Joseph Stalin November 7, 1941 in which he evoked the memories military leaders of the past. All these historical figures eventually appeared on the mosaics of Komsomolskaya.
I then took line 5, the Ring line, in anti-clockwise direction and got of at the first station to visit, Prospekt Mira, where harmonious scenes of agricultural life are depicted in white porcelain. The theme of this station goes back to the original name of the station: Botanical Gardens and is reflected in the overall colour tone and floral elements of the decoration.
I got back on the train in the same direction and got of at the next station to visit: Novoslobodskaya. Here both sides of the isle have 32 huge stained glass panels in art-nouveau style.
Then I continued further on line five and got of again at the next station to visit: Belorusskaya, with ceiling mosaics decorated with Belorussian motives. The rectangular pylons faced with pink marble from Birobidzhan on the exterior and with black davalu marble in the passageway to the platforms. Bronze floor-lamps decorate the pylon niches, in the end of the central hall is a bust of Vladimir Lenin.
Here I changed to line 2 (green) in the direction of the centre, to get of at the first station: Mayakovskaya station. It is a fine example of pre-World War II Stalinist Architecture and one of the most famous and most beautiful Metro stations in the world. The interior was a grand prize winner at the 1938 World Fair in New York. The Art Deco pink hall features steel columns and oval illuminated mosaics depicting “24 Hours in the Land of the Soviets.” on the ceiling. This station lies 33m deep and was an air-raid shelter in WWII.
Then continue to Treatralnaya (line1, red) and walk over to visit Ploshad Revoluytsii (line 3, dark blue). The station features red and yellow marble arches resting on low pylons faced with black Armenian marble. The isle is on both sides a gallery of 76 statues representing people during the Revolution and after. Some statues are all shiny from people stroking them for good luck.
If you want more, visit:
Arbatskaya station (line 3 dark blue): Along with Smolenskaya and Kievskaya, it was built in 1953 to replace an older station which had been damaged in a German bomb attack. The older station reopened five years later, creating the somewhat confusing situation of having two pairs of completely separate stations with the same names (Arbatskaya and Smolenskaya on line 3 and 4, light and dark blue, to make the confusion complete!). This station is at one end of Ul. Arbat.
Kievskaya station (ring line 5, brown) features low, square pylons faced with white marble and surmounted by large mosaics celebrating Russo-Ukrainian unity.
Park Kultury (ring line 5 and red line 1) station contains 26 circular bas-reliefs which depict sporting and other leisure activities of the Soviet youth. Large and imposing pylons faced with grey marble came directly from Georgia. The floor is laid with black and grey granite tiles imitating a carpet. Park Kultury is the station close to Gorky Park and to Tolstoy’s house.
Park Pobedy (line 3, dark blue) station is at 74 metres underground the deepest metro station in Moscow and one of the deepest in the world.
Kropotkinskaya station (line1, red) is one of the oldest Metro stations and part of the original Metro line. Since it was to serve as the gateway to the Palace of Soviets, great care was taken to make Kropotkinskaya suitably elegant and impressive. The station has flared columns faced with white marble. The spacious platform is covered with squares of gray and red granite and the walls, originally tiled, are now faced with white Koyelga marble. This station is the station for the Pushkin museum and the cathedral of Christ the Saviour.
Paveletskaya station (ring line 5, brown) Bright bronze chandeliers provide lighting. The walls repeat the two tone marble, white on top, red on bottom, and the floor is laid with grey and white granite. This station is where you can connect to the Aeroexpress train to DME airport.
Novokosnetskaya station (line 2, green) honours the Soviet fighting men with its heavy ornamentation.
Kurskaya station (ring line 5, brown) is a rare deep column station built in the 1950s style of Stalinist Architecture. You get of at this station of you want to visit Winzavod art centre and Art and Play.
Mendeleyevskaya station (line 9, grey), designed in the theme of Dmitri Mendeleev and his works, which explains the design of the lamps! This station is connected to Novoslobodskaya station, the station you go tot to visit the Jewish museum of tolerance.