The magnificent Moscow Subway

And its curious facts, secrets and more
The most important city in Russia has many beauties and some of it are hidden in magnificent and flamboyant galleries underground. One of the first things that comes to mind when you think about Moscow is: Moscow Subway Stations. Well, at least for me it is. The subway in Moscow alone is a reason to visit this marvelous city. It is more than a path between point A to B, it is a unique experience by itself.

We went to Moscow to see Russia’s largest military parade in Saint Petersburg as you may already know. And over there we were dumbfounded by the beauty of Saint Petersburg Subway stations by accident. After that we’ve decided that we needed a tour of Moscow Subway ASAP.

Besides amazing you with photos of some of the most fantastic and gorgeous subway stations ever, I will tell you more than 20 unknown facts about the Moscow Subway and its stations. So if you’re in for some beauty, history, Unesco heritage sites and bomb shelters, keep reading.

Moscow Subway puts German and British punctuality to shame

The Moscow Subway System is the world record-holder for being on time every time. And I’m talking about departures and arrivals! The Moscow Transport Department shows that the subway in Moscow has an accuracy of 99.99%! I mean, I live in Berlin. And Germans are worldwide known for being efficient. But the Russians are winning this battle – like all battles. hohohoho WWII jokes anyone?

And everything gets more impressive in rush hours, where the interval between the trains is around 90 seconds!

Russia 1 x 0 Rest of the World

And yet another record…

Many of the Moscow Subway Stations changed names several times. Why? I don’t know. Ask a Russian, maybe he will know.

And they changed names so often that the station now known as Alexandrovsky Sad had the names “ulitsa Kominterna”, “Comintern”, “Imeni Kominterna” and between 1946-1990 was known as “Kalininskaya”. And just to make things a bit more confusing, in 1990 for a few days this station was named “Vozdvizhenka”.

Next time you’re complaining about the subway in your city, remember this.

The Moscow Subway is by far the most beautiful in the world

It is the absolute truth! It is so outstanding that 44 out of 200 stations are listed as cultural heritage sites!

I bet you can’t say the same about any other subway!

Besides being pretty, the Moscow Subway is one of the busiest subway in the world

Forget about London, Paris and NYC. Moscow has an impressive 2.4 billion folks going where that needed to go in 2014. For the past 80 years, the Moscow Subway provided more than 145 billion rides underneath the capital’s streets.

P.S.: The busiest subway in the world is actually the one in Tokyo with over 3 billion people in 2013.

A bit of fiction for your delight

We’ve being told that there’s a legend about one of the lines in the Moscow Subway lines – the circle line.

Legend has it that, since it was not in the original project, the reason for its existence is Stalin’s coffee mug. Some say that Stalin himself placed his cup of coffee on the metro map leaving a brown circle. The line is brown and it is a circle. Do you need more proof than that? I didn’t think so.

View the Full map here

Men and Women voices guiding you all the way to your destination

One of the most interesting facts in my opinion: blind people can orientated themselves in the subway by listening to the announcements!

If you’re traveling to the center of Moscow, the stations will be announced by a men’s voice and if you’re going away from the center, a women’s voice. Interesting, right?

On the circle line is similar, if you’re going counterclockwise you’ll be listening to a woman. If you’re clockwise, a men.

This can help you a mil if you’re like me and have no idea WTF is happening if everything is in Cyrillic.

Bridge Station anyone?

The Moscow Subway will never stop to amazes you and that’s a fact. This item couldn’t be different: The Vorobyovy Gory station is the first station ever to be built inside a bridge. And until this day it is the only one of its kind in Moscow.

fun fact: this station was closed for almost 20 years for repairs once! From 1983 all the way to 2002!

All love to Lenin

For the first 2 decades of existence, the Moscow Subway held the name of Lazar Kaganovich. Lazar was the responsible for the construction of the first ever built line. But everything changed in 1955 when they changed the name for Vladimir Lenin.

Poor Kaganovich…

And Russians couldn’t care less about war when they had a subway to build

More impressive than winning the WWII was the accomplishments of Moscow Subway during the war: 7 new stations, not a single pause.

Growing and growing and growing…

Straight from my post of 21 things I learned about Russia

If you read my funny post about the 21 things I learned about Russians and Russia you will understand this next item, if you haven’t read it, please do. Over there I stated that Russians love fountains more than anything in the world. I dare to say that they love fountains more than vodka!

They love fountains so much that there’s a fountain on the Moscow Subway System! If you want to find it, it is between the Ploshchad Ilyicha station and the Rimskaya station.

I’ve told you all: Russians love their fountains!

About its construction and inauguration

Speaking about the construction of the Moscow Subway, let me tell you a curious fact:

Even tho there were talks about building a subway system in Moscow back in 1875, and again in 1902, the project only went through in 1931 with the USSR established. In 15th of May of 1935, the first 13 stations of Moscow Subway were born.

If people made the subway back when the project was first discussed, Moscow could have one of the oldest subways in the world, loosing only to London that inaugurated theirs in 1863.

Growing so much that the future looks bright

Estimates say that by 2020, the Moscow Subway will grow around 150% in comparison to its size in 2011. This means that over 150 kilometers of tracks and over 50 new stations will be added to this underground system!

Grab my cock

Many of the stations in Moscow are filled with giant and impressive metal or stone statues. You have the partisans, soldiers, Lenin, Pushkin.. You name it, they have! And some are the statues are believed to bring luck to the people who touches it, so some parts of some statues will be in a different color. And there’s one for each taste, including a metal rooster for you to rub your hand and wish for better health or more money. And who doesn’t want to touch a cock for good luck, huh?

And while you’re there, please admire the murals, glass-work, chandeliers and mosaics. It is pure art!

And now 2 facts about the 2nd world war and the Moscow Subway

Besides being giant and imposing, the stations in Moscow – as well as some other cities in Russia – can dub as bunkers!

During the airstrikes between 1941-45, more than half of million people found safety underground inside the stations. Carriages served as places for hundreds of thousands women and children to sleep. They were parked next to platforms during the nights offering a more comfortable option for spending the night.

And because of that, during the periods when the German airstrikes intensified, hairdressing salons and shops were operating inside the stations! There was even a full working library in one of the stations (Kurskaya)!

Free wifi for everybody

Yes, you heard it right! If you find yourself lost and in need of a free wifi connection, get your ass to the metro. Moscow Subway System is equipped with free internet for all its users. More than I can say for most of the cities we’ve visited so far.

Just have your mobile with you and go online all you want!

There are fossils in the walls

In many of the walls of Moscow Subway you can easily spot mollusks shells, coral and similar fossils. They originated millions of years ago and now are part of the design of more than 20 stations. If you spot marble on some walls while you’re there, pay close attention.

Moscow Subway is more than just beauty,  it is a sort of a combination of a Geological and Paleontological museum.

If you want to see an example, check out this link here

Joseph Stalin speech

Another historical moment that happened inside the Moscow Subway was in October 6th, 1941 – the anniversary of the October Revolution.

On this day a very important meeting of the Moscow Soviet was held at the Mayakovskaya station. Stalin made a speech on that speech he announced the inevitable defeat of the fascist bloc.

Kurskaya Station, Stalin and the boycott

Some human rights activist are boycotting the Kurskaya station thanks to something that happened in 2008/2009 when the station was getting a face lift.

During the repair, the inscriptions over one of its portal was brought back to life. Now you can read a small piece of the Soviet Anthem from 1944:

Stalin brought us up on loyalty to the people, he inspired us to labor and heroism.

And this is, in my opinion, reason enough for the boycott.

Subway concerts

If you’re heading to Moscow during the month of May, check if there’s an underground concert happening on May 15th. May 15th is the anniversary of the Moscow Subway and for the past years this has being happening.

Since the stations have such great acoustics, checking it out might be a fun thing to do in Moscow.

“Burn your local church”

Ok, this one is not about burning any churches or anything (everybody say AAAHHHHWWWWW).

But this one is about the marble used in some stations: there’s a claim that it belonged to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a church demolished back in 1931. As you know, the Soviets were not a big fan of religion.

In my humble opinion, a better use of the marble. But again, I started this fact with “burn your local church”.

Rolling Stones

Another claim about the origins of some of the material of Moscow Subway is that a Russian architectural monument from the XVI century was dismantled to decorate it. The stone from Serpukhov Kremlin allegedly was used in the first station.

No more suicides

In 2015, Moscow announced that its subway was getting a new intelligent system to reduce accidents and suicides. For some reason many people choose the Moscow Subway as a place to end their pain and this, besides being super sad, can causes serious damage.

This new system’s special sensors can notify the train drivers when there’s a person on the tracks. I sincerely hope that this can prevent deaths.

So, this is it people, if you liked these facts or if you have some more, please let me know on the comments below or on our Facebook group. We’re always happy to hear from you all!

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