I thought of the Aldous Huxley quote when I was in Moscow, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” The city was nothing like I expected. It was vibrant, friendly and energetic. Of course I went to all the known stops on the tourists itinerary. First was Red Square to see Saint Basil’s Cathedral. I could have spent all day standing in the square looking at this stunning piece of architecture. The Cathedral that Ivan the Terrible had built was much more beautiful in person than the pictures I have admired over the years. Visits to the museums at the Kremlin, Victory Park and an opera at the Bolshoi Theater are on every tourist’s list and I can now tell you from experience they are worth the time and money.
Another highlight for me was the Moscow subway stations. Yes a subway system where there’s granite instead of graffiti. In place of street art there’s imposing marble and mosaics. For less than a dollar I visited 5 stations where each stop felt like its own museum.
The station I, as most tourists, spent the most time at was the one closest to Red Square, Ploshchad Revolyutsii. This station has 76 bronze sculptures representing the people of the Soviet Union. One depicts a solider with a dog. The dog’s nose is unmistakably worn. A local girl told me that Russians touch it for good luck and before school exams students will make a trip to this station.
My favorite metro stop was Novoslobodskaya. It was built in 1952 and included 32 stained glass panels that can be found between the large marble columns. I thought it was the most beautiful station but according to my research the majority of people give this top billing to Komsomolskaya Station or the Mayakovskaya Station.
Komsomolskaya is one of the original subway stations. It was built in 1935 to represent Russia’s fight for independence. At this stop I found a vaulted ceiling painted yellow, pillars made of limestone and marble, adorned by 8 mosaic panels above the granite floor.
As commuters were rushing from train to train at the Mayakovskaya stop my attention was on the ceiling. Here you have to look up to see the 34 mosaics that depict an idealist soviet future. With the Olympic spirit in the air, well maybe not here, but for me I focused my camera lens on the sports themed mosaics.
Speaking of the Olympics I still don’t know where I will be to watch the opening ceremony but I do know that tomorrow I am heading to Belgrade, Serbia. What has me really excited about my next stop is the friend I will be meeting there.