Monday, February 15, 2010

The Moscow Metro

The Moscow Metro has to be the most breathtaking example of human subterranean endeavour on the planet. To put it in layman's terms, it friggin' rocks!

300 km of tube and track connect 12 seperate lines to over 180 stations, making it the third most expansive metro in the world after Seoul and Tokyo. Those two metro systems, although slightly larger, pale in comparison when it comes to the aesthetic beauty of Moscow's system.

The Moscow Metro map, with the incredibly useful 'circle line' connecting all lines.
In 1931 Joseph Stalin commissioned work on the Metro to begin. He envisioned a metro system so grand; so luxurious, that it would showcase the achievements of the world's first Communist state.
In 1932 the first shaft was sunk deep below Moscow, and three years later, in 1935, the first trains were running from Park Kultury to Smolenskaya stations. Over the decades more lines have been added, and every leader of Russia since Lenin has a station named after them.
The Moscow Metro is the world's deepest, with some stations located well below 100 feet underground. This came in handy during the Second World War, providing shelter to thousands of Muscovites during German bombing raids on the city.
In 2004 Chechen terrorists detonated several explosive devices near Pavaletskaya station, killing 40 and injuring over 100. Since then there has been a heavy militsia presence in the stations (an unnerving fact for the central-asian riders, who are constantly harrassed by the police), and photography has been banned except with permission.
This hasn't stopped me from snapping photos whenever opportunity presents itself, and below I give you a little photo-expose of the best subway system in the world: the Moscow Metro!

The old rattling trains, made in Mytischi, add to the vibe.

The strange things that one sees on the Moscow Metro also adds to the appeal, like this guy wearing bear-fur everything, and, if you look closely, a bear claw necklace.

Park Pabodi (Victory Park) metro station.

One of my personal favourite stations is Komsomolskaya. Just look at the place!

Me, on the metro

Statues dedicated to soldiers, workers and heroic partisans, like this one here, are everywhere.

The Novoslobodskaya Metro stop, from the outside.

Nearly 1 million people ride the metro everyday, and rush hour (8-10 and 16:00-18:00) can be a hellish crush of people, all jostling to get in the doors and on the escalators while metro workers yell at them to "Walk left, stand right!"

I love the anachronistic Soviet decor found at nearly every station!

Some escalator rides down can take a five minutes or more!

The "blue line" is one of the newest lines, and uses shiny modern trains from Korea with digital signage...not quite as fun as the older carriages on the other lines, but much smoother.

The dog statues at this station are thought to bring luck if you rub their nose. Notice the nice polish on this dog's snout?

Another feature of the Moscow Metro: the Moscow Women!

There it is: the Moscow Metro in all it's beautiful glory!


  1. You say, "who are constantly harrassed by the police), and photography has been banned except with permission. Not exactly right there
    This hasn't stopped me from snapping photos whenever opportunity presents itself,"
    since when has photography been banned in the Moscow metro? Take a look at the Moscow Metro English web page sometime, it states: " Filming and taking photographs using stationery equipment and professional cameras (body height over 140 mm and/or lens length over 100 mm) is permitted in the territory of Moscow metro."
    I've been taking photographs of the Moscow metro along with militia officers, some which even pose with me with no problems at all. Nice article, but check your facts first, photography is allowed in the Moscow metro.

  2. Hm, interesting. I have received conflicting information on this issue. Several sources, including the Rough Guide to Moscow as well as my Russian colleagues, have informed me that photography is not permitted while some other sources say it is okay. Perhaps it's that grey area between what constitutes "professional" photography?

  3. We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.............................................

  4. Hi. I'm happy to see another person fascinated with Moscow metro.
    But You are wrong with a caption to one of your photos.
    "The Novoslobodskaya Metro stop, from the outside."
    It is not. What You really shot is the
    "Arbuz" - a small marketplace (complex of shops) built over the understreet passage. On your shot there is only a small part of the side wall of the building of Novoslobodskaya, the one with exit doors.
    Look here:
    Anyway - great post! =)

  5. Hey, absolutely love your pics! Its a beautiful system.
    And I think you are right about pics in the metro.. last year when I was there we got in trouble for snapping a few... But it might just be the individual police officer's perogative...

  6. Greetings Canadian,

    A top post about the Moscow metro... all original writing and photos, including one of you using the metro as a recliner. I Stumbled this item in StumbleUpon with a review. Here's hoping you get some much deserved traffic from SU!

    Rob... Loquacious

  7. Enjoyed the story of the Metro in Moscow, Nice Job and some Interesting Photos,
    Regards Rob and Mandy

  8. I agree with most of what you say the Metro is absolutely stunning I visited Mytischi (moscow) last year and travelled on it each day and every time it was an eye opener, My partner and I had no problems taking photos on the metro and friends often say how beautiful it is. (but they are comparing it to London) :)

  9. It's not 1 million, it is 7 to 9 million (!) people every day. How? Just everybody in the city use it. OK, almost everybody...
    There is no korean trains in Moscow. All metro trains including shiny ones are built in Russia, mostly in the mentioned Mytischi.
    5 minute ride on the escalator is hyperbole. I think real time is about 2-3 minutes. Still, St. Petersburg metro is a bit (hmmm...) deeper and escalators are some longer. :)