Metropolis Indeed


As I said before, the Moscow Metro is supposed to be an architectural masterpiece, but the stations I have been so far spell out architectural backwater. No, don’t get me wrong. It is cool urban achievement–a spacious, surprisingly clean (not as squeaky clean as Paris) piece of work, but I haven’t seen those gilded chandeliers they promised me.

It is deeper underground than any metro I seen so far. The escalator ride down to one particularly deep line took me 2.5 minutes (and it is not even Moscow’s deepest. That honor goes to Park Pobedy, which is also the world’s deepest metro station). The whitewashed, semicircle tunnels reminded me of the movie Metropolis. If New York metro is straight from a dystopian novel, Moscow’s has that Fritz Lang edginess to it, with every commuter putting on an expressionless façade.

Moscow, like any major city in the Old World, is cyclic in shape. The city grew surrounding that erstwhile small citadel in the centre, the Kremlin.  Therefore, the metro lines look like a big octopus with tentacles (you can google a better graphic), and the tentacles are growing longer every day. (Nikita Khrushchev rose in ranks by his successful building the metro).

However, it is extremely efficient. A train arrives every minute, and it is always packed too—it is the transportation of choice for 9 million of Muscovites (per day), and rightly so. It took less than an hour from one end of the city to the other. Ironically, when the idea of an underground rail was first proposed in 1902, it was denounced by a local newspaper as ‘a staggering impudent encroachment on everything Russian people hold dear in the city of Moscow’.

Today, inside that impudent encroachment, nearly 9,500 trains operate from 6 am to 1 am, which is kinda sucky because this being Europe, no party scene really picks up until 11 pm, and trains end at 1 am? Oh, come on!

Side-note: there is a station called Vorobjovy Gory on Line 1 which is pretty much a huge platform on a bridge. It commends an amazing view of Moskva River. If you are ever in Moscow, check it out. It is unique.


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