One of the top things to do in Moscow is to visit the world-famous Metro. Known as the ‘Palace of the People’, many of the metro stations are extraordinary, with ornate details and decoration. Indeed the metro is so famous that multiple agencies offer a ‘free walking tour’ designed to show you the best that the metro has to offer.
Although we would have enjoyed doing the tour, it just didn’t fit into our schedule. With most tours taking place at 10.30 am it clashed with other plans that we had! Although I looked for tours at night, there were none. Instead, I decided to search for the most famous metro stations, and try and create our own self-guided tour. Of course, this may not be as comprehensive as the tours on offer, but if you have no alternative then give it a try!
How to use the Moscow Metro
The Moscow Metro is honestly the best public transport system we have used to date. The metro has 263 stations and 14 lines, making it the 5th biggest in the world. It also means that you can get from one place to another easily, even if there is a big distance between them!
To get the Moscow Metro I advise you to first purchase a Troika card. This is the reusable card for transport in Moscow. The card costs 50 rubles (€0.70), and most be topped before using it. The benefit is that a single journey using a Troika card only costs 40 rubles (€0.50) ( a single ticket costs 60 (€0.80)). Another benefit of the Troika card is that if you travel as a couple you can both use the one card (this is not the same for the travel card in Saint Petersburg).
Moscow Metro Best Stations | Self Guided Tour
This self-guided Moscow Metro tour is intended to show the best, most frequently visited station during any Moscow Metro tour. It will detail what things to look out for, and what makes each station unique.
The tour begins in the central station of Ploschad’ Revolutsii, or Revolution Square. This station is one of the smallest, but also busiest in the whole system. It is also one of the earliest, having been built in 1938.
What makes this station visit-worthy are the 76 bronze statues displayed throughout. The sculptures display Soviet workers, farmers, athletes, and soldiers. Regardless of your situation in life, it was thought you could find a statue that relates to you.
The most famous of the statues are the ones with the dog. It is believed that rubbing the dog’s nose will give you luck. If you just hover around the statues for awhile you are sure to see many people rubbing the statues!
Now stay on the blue line and head one station to Kurskaya.
Kurskaya is a noteworthy station due to its entrance lobby. This, unfortunately, means you will need to exit the metro and pay to get back on again.
The entrance lobby has the shape of a Roman Temple, and the temple itself hides some interesting history (especially if you can read Russian). You see, shortly before Stalin died, he began to increase the propaganda about himself. There were statues, paintings, and photos of him littered throughout the Soviet Union. The metro stations were no different, with many bearing statues or mosaics of Stalin. This all changed during the ‘de-Stalinisation’ campaign during the rule of Khrushchev. He removed nearly all the icons in public places related to Stalin.
I mention all this because it is in this entrance lobby where you can see a rare example of the modern government bringing some Stalin propaganda back. The inscription above the columns is the full second verse of the Soviet anthem that uses both Stalin and Lenin’s names. The interesting part about this is it was only renovated in 2008! It was quite controversial at the time and triggered many debates in the media.
Buy a new ticket and prepare to get the Brown line this time, to Komsomol’skaya, which is one stop away.
This is, without a doubt, the most famous and beautiful station. The picture-perfect Moscow metro station can be explored on the brown line. It truly makes the metro live up to the name ‘Palace of the People’.
The interior of the station is dedicated to the most important of all Russian interests – military history! Look up at the ceiling and you will notice a series of images depicting the most famous battles in Russian history. It is, of course, in chronological order as well!
You will notice famous symbols of Russian history, look out for St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the three mosaics dedicated to Russia’s involvement in World War II. Indeed all 3 of these used to depict Stalin until he was later removed. Now you can see the recognizable figure of Lenin instead.
After you have taken in these amazing mosaics, head back on the brown line and take two stops to the next station – Novoslobodskaya.
The station was actually one of our favorites, and its got such a different theme! You see, the communist party were very much atheists and anti-religion. So it may surprise you to find out that Novoslobodskaya station is actually church-themed!
There is a long nave down the center of the station, and stain-glassed windows along the side. It really does give you the impression that you are in a church!
The mosaic at the end of the station is also interesting, as it used to contain a portrait of Stalin.
Next, it is time to get on the brown line again and go one station to Belorusskaya.
Belorusskaya is one of the bigger stations on the Metro, and it has stations on two lines – brown and green. You will actually arrive in this station if you get the AeroExpress from any of the city’s airports.
The station is actually named after the country Belarus. Belarus is now an independent country but was once a part of the Soviet Union. It was also one of the major contributors to the Soviet Union’s agricultural sector. This meant that it got a grandiose station called after it!
The platform is famous for its mosaics, which details the glorified agricultural success of the Soviet Union.
Next head on to the green line of Belorusskaya where there isn’t specifically anything of interest to view. There is a statue of Lenin but this is not specific to this station – there are many throughout the Moscow Metro! Head to the next station Mayakovskaya.
This station is named after the famous Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Mayakovsky killed himself before the station opened in 1938, but he was extremely popular in Russia. The square above the station is adorned with his statue.
The design of the station is famous for its stainless steel columns and the ‘hammer and sickle’ decorations used throughout. But it isn’t really the design that makes the station noteworthy.
The story of this station is that it was used extensively as a bomb shelter during World War II when the Germans were bombing Moscow. Just imagine the station during this period! The metro stations in Moscow are some of the deepest in Europe, and that is because of this very reason.
That is the end of the self-guided Moscow Metro tour. This tour covers the most visited stations in any of the guided tours that are offered. You can get a real feel for what the Moscow Metro is all about. There are great architectural feats alongside some history. Indeed you should check out every station you go through, as there is always something which stands out.