Leaders and parades, victory and oblivion, pioneer ties and flags, workers, and farm girl, dreams of space... We are tearing off all the masks of our city, as the luring red stars, flash in the transparent blue sky.
Day №1
The Soviet past... It is alive, its image has many faces, and its spirit is still felt, and felt in the center and on the outskirts of the city. It seems that modern Moscow favorably frames the Stalin's empire, and the discreet constructivism, and the flashy, hard-edged social art. When we think about the USSR we still have extremely mixed emotions of nostalgia, and contempt, and dreams, and romance. So it isn’t surprising, that the first day of our trip is a trip to Moscow of the past. It was an amazing adventure: we walked through abandoned pavilions of once the most popular exhibition in the country, climbed the steeple of one of seven Stalin skyscrapers, studied the history of faceted glass and took the #FollowMeTo photographs on the most beautiful stations of the Moscow Metro. Read more about this unforgettable day and watch our first video guide for Moscow.
VDNKh

The exhibition of achievements of the national economy has long been turned into an "architectural shout" that melted away like smoke of the Soviet era. The huge territory (like no other city park), the famous pavilions, where once were traded goods of the best Union Republics, ceremonial fountains with a magnificent decor of gilded sheaves of hay and marble Moldavian peasants. There are 14 not the same but similar fountains, 86 pavilions, a cascade of ponds, dozens of museums...


Inevitably approaching a grand anniversary, the complex prepares to celebrate its 80th birthday (the date of foundation is 1939) in a renewed way at the request of the spoiled citizens: bike paths, an interactive museum, Japanese soda machines on every corner, open air cinema, and even a giant aquarium. However, even now, if you just slightly deviate from the central route, you will unexpectedly come across the "Pig" pavilion with dusty, old, boarded-up windows or a gazebo lined with peeling mosaics. We like the VDNKh "from the past" - it reeks of melancholy of bygone times. A very atmospheric place, which certainly will appeal to photographers and artists. And in the modern part of the park it is great to spend the day with family: walk, ride, eat ice cream and pose against the newly renovated impressive pavilions.

Monument To the Conquerors of Space

The first thing you see when driving up to the VDNKh is a gigantic, shining in the sun and almost reaching for the clouds missile, which seems about to fly off into space. This is, in fact, quite crudely decorated monument somehow causes a strange feeling of lightness.

"Stella" is how it is popularly called by the citizens (ask any local, none of them even heard of any "conquerors") and it is a triumphal completion of the Alley of Cosmonauts. Perhaps there is no need to explain that the entire complex was built in honour of the very first "star" travellers that surfed the galaxy on Vostok and Sputnik.

Here are some interesting facts about the monument. For example, the entire obelisk weighs 250 tons! In its "basement" is the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautica, and the bas-reliefs that decorate the base, depict the engineers and workers who actually created all of these rockets, satellites and stations. By the way, in the beginning the access to the actual Stella was open and all the kids would compete to see who could run longer on the 70-degree slope, until gravity stepped in . Fortunately, it still works on Earth.

The monument Tractor Operator and Collective Farmer

Another monument of Soviet art towering not far from the main entrance of VDNKh. By the way, it was originally built for an industrial exhibition in Paris in 1937. The monument returned home in a severely injured state (both statues lost their hands), and the government did not know where to put all this beauty. They wanted to put in the territory of a power plant, but then changed their mind and installed it not far from the Agricultural Exhibition.

It is difficult to accept the idea that the author of this heavyweight (185 tons!), deliberately ponderous and powerful, overwhelming everything in its surroundings, is actually a woman - the famous Vera Mukhina. By the way, five different artists wanted to participate in the project, four of them were men. And Mukhina won. Perhaps there is no more vivid and obvious symbol of the Soviet era than this grand structure. The union of all classes, equality and fraternity, the hammer and the sickle, a man and a woman confidently walking hand in hand into the bright future. Back then there was no doubt that it would last forever.

Moscow State University building

One of the seven famous Stalin's skyscrapers, that always stood out among its architectural "sisters". The highest (240 meters), the multi-storey (36 floors), surrounded on all sides by the faithful "henchmen" (the tower became the center of the already built complex of 27 buildings)... In short, a real city prima once loved not only by Muscovites, but by all the guests of the city and has become one of the most photographed objects in the Soviet Union. By the way, just imagine, a construction of the beauty requiring 175 million bricks, I don’t know whether anyone actually counted, but that’s what it says in the official documents. By the way, originally the tower was supposed to be erected right next to the viewing platform on Vorobjevy Gory (the kind of view the students would have had!), But the architects sounded the alarm in time - such a "large object" is unlikely to withstand on such a gentle slope. As a result, the foundation shifted about 800 meters further.

There are so many rumors and legends surrounding this skyscraper. Rumor has it, that the building materials that were used are the remains of the ruined Reichstag, and one of the floors of the University is decorated with jasper columns that survived the demolition of Christ the Savior, that at night there are ghosts wandering the empty halls! All of these local "Tales from the Crypt" are being retold to this day at the lectures. There is also a true fact: the facade decoration was done by Vera Mukhina, and that until 1990 it was the tallest building in the whole of Europe, and that the famous star on the spire is actually not gold, but simply lined with yellow glass. At this altitude, any metal would quickly transform beyond repair.

Mayakovskaya Station

One of the most renowned stations in the Moscow Metro, named in the honor of the local poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, who could play Nocturne on a flute made out of a drain pipe. The station received worldwide recognition in 1938, the year it was opened, immediately winning the Grand Prix at the International Exhibition in New York. However, in its native Russia it received its honorary status of a heritage site only in the 80s.

It is impossible to confuse it with any other station. For instance because of the stunningly beautiful oval recesses on the ceiling, which at the same time work as a recess, fixtures and "frames" for the unique "airy” mosaics created by the sketches of the legendary Soviet artist Alexander Deineka with a theme “A Day of the Soviet sky". Two red airplanes dive into the clouds, a skydiver jumps out of the glider, the gulls hovering in the blue distance, the red flag fluttering in the wind... Ah, the romance! Mayakovskaya - one of our favorite stations in Moscow. Firstly, the design is modern and is combined with elements of the bygone era. Secondly, for some reason there are never a lot of people here. The daily flow of people that go through "Mayakovskaya” is around 48 thousand. So you can safely walk through the lobby, carefully examining the details of the avant-garde, just like in a museum.

Komsomolskaya station

One of the most beautiful and one of the busiest Moscow metro stations (163 thousand people go through it every day!). Its popularity is not surprising, because the station is on the so-called "three train stations square" - Kazansky, Leningradsky and Yaroslavsky. So for many visitors to the capital the luxurious marble lobby of Komsomolskaya is the first thing they see in Moscow.


There are dozens of exits and passages (some lead directly to the trains), two platforms - ring and radial, and the seemingly endless underground passage, so even a native Muscovite can easy get lost. Especially if you are like us, stopping everywhere, looking at all the details, admiring the tiered chandeliers - the apotheosis of the Stalinist Empire style, the mosaics on the ceiling and the walls. By the way, if you look closely, you can almost see the great Russian heroes: from Minin and Pozharsky to Kutuzov.

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