Moscow metro : self guided tour in an underground museum

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The metro of Moscow is a monument in itself and the most beautiful in the world in my opinion – An underground museum you could explore for days and not get bored because it has over 200 stations, each of them being unique, built around a specific theme with giant chandeliers and marbles from every corner of the former USSR. It is magnificent !

You could pay for a private guided tour of course, there are plenty, but if you travel on a budget, here is a self guided one through 14 of the some most beautiful and interesting metro stations that will cost you less than 1€ (51₽) and take about 3 hours.

I have been to Moscow many times on my travels around the country & everytime I’m impressed by its metro : it’s clean, efficient and most of all it’s absolutely beautiful !

Last updated : 07/11/2022

Moscow metro 2

Metro’s myths & facts

There are quite a few myths & curious facts about Moscow metro. Here are some :

  • After the October Revolution, Moscow’s population doubled within a decade, and the ground transportation wasn’t enough anymore. The first metro line was opened in 1935 with 13 stations.
  • The legend of Stalin’s coffee ring : It is said that Stalin put his coffee cup on the metro map and left a brown stain around Moscow’s city center, creating the now brown line number 5.
  • Each station of the line 5 are also believed to represent the Zodiac signs.
  • Fossiles can be find in the marble of the stations such as ammonities & a variety of different shells.
  • 99.99% of trains run on time – Russian trains in general run on schedules.
  • Male & female voices announcements : Going towards the city center you will hear a male voice announcing the next station & moving in the other direction you will hear a female voice.

    On the circular lines you can hear a man’s voice in the trains going clockwise and woman’s voice in the opposite direction. Both in Russian & English
  • In 1939, Mayakovskaya station won the Grand Price at the World Exhibition in New York City.
  • There are no rubbish bins inside the metro stations since the 90’s to prevent terrorist attacks.
  • The metro 2 is supposed to be a secret underground metro system parallels the public metro built by the KGB. It is said to connect the Kremlin, the FSB headquarters, one of Moscow’s airports & more !

Tips

  • Moscow metro is quite safe. There are plenty of police & security at the entrance of the stations and even on the platforms. Of course like any overcrowed metro in the world there can still be pickpockets but locals don’t seem to worry so much about it, no one carry their bags & backpacks right in front of them like you can see in Paris metro for example.
  • Watch your steps, the escalators might go faster than you are used to. Also stand on the right side.
  • Get a Troyka card instead of buying single ride tickets everytime. There’s a deposit for the card which can be refunded when you give it back, for example at the end of your visit in Moscow. Ride will be cheaper with the Troyka and you can also use it all around Moscow in buses & trams included.
  • If you own a russian bank card you can use it directly instead of the Troyka card.
  • Download the metro app. It’s in English & works offline.
  • Avoid rush hours. There are millions of people using the metro everyday & it can be packed.
  • Give away your seat (especially if you’re a man!) to elderlies, disable people or pregnant ladies.

Must see metro stations

Now that you know a few facts & tips about the metro, here is a list of some of the best (according to me but not only) metro stations you should visit while in Moscow !

I’ve made this self guided tour starting next to the Red Square but you can kind of start it wherever you want, this is only a suggestion.

Yandex maps being Russian, it is much more efficient to use to make itinerary of Moscow’s metro than Goggle Maps. If you download the app and click on the “open route” button in the down left corner of the displayed map below, the itineray will open directly in your Yandex Maps app and be ready to use.

It’s not possible to add more than 10 destinations on Yandex Maps so the itinerary is split in 2.

The first one from Teatralnaya to Novokuznetskaya

The second part from Novokuznetskaya to Arbatskaya

Now let’s get on with the tour !

Teatralnaya

(Театрaльная – line 2) The station name means “theater” and you can find a few theaters nearby, including the famous Bolshoi.
Dedicated to the arts of the Soviet people, there are 14 different figures picturing dances & musics from Soviet countries such as Armenia, Kazakhstan & Ukraine to name a few.

Teatralnaya Moscow metro 2

Komsomolskaya

(Комсомольская – line 1) This famous station opened in 1935 is in many people’s opinion including mine, one of the most mindblowing and stunning metro station in Moscow. It really looks like a palace with its yellow ceiling, chandeliers & marble coloms. The mosaics are depicting some of Russia’s historical fights for freedom & independance through its history from the Battle of Borodino to the Battle of Berlin etc.

Komsomolskaya Moscow metro 1

Novoslobodskaya

(Новослободская – line 5) The 32 stained glass panels lit from the inside of Novoslobodskaya station make it looks like you stepped into a church because those glass panels were actually meant for a cathedral in Riga, Latvia. Each figure inside the panels is depicting a scene of daily Soviet worker’s life : engineer, factory worker etc. At the end of the hall used to be a portrait of Stalin, covered up since.

Novoslobodskaya Moscow metro 1

From there, Yandex Maps will tell you to get out of the metro and walk, but you can totally stay inside and do Novoslobodskaya > Mendeleyevskaya > Tsetnoy Bulvard > Trubnaya > Dostoyevskaya. See the Metro App for direction.

Dostoevskaya

(Достоевская – line 10) This very new station was quite controversial when it opened in 2010. Depicting scenes from Dostoevsky’s most famous novels such as the murder scene in Crime & Punishment. It was considered gloomy and depressing by some people who were even worried that it could motivate people to commit suicide at the station …

I really recommend to check it out if you are a Dostoevsky’s fan !

Dostoyevskaya Moscow metro 1

Mayakovskaya

Same as to reach Dostoevskaya. Yandex map will take it short and tell you to get out. You can go through Tchekovskaya > Tverskaya > Mayakovskaya

(Маяковская – line 2) This bunker station openned in 1938 was one of the city’s anti-bomb shelter. Stalin even gave a famous speech in 1941 downthere. Look up to see the 34 domes on the ceiling picturing popular Soviet scenes : airplanes, summer harvest etc.

Mayakovskaya Moscow metro 1

Kievskaya

(Киевская – line 5) Kievskaya was made to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Russian – Ukrainian unity (not very relevant nowadays). The station opened in 1954, has large chandeliers and beautiful mosaics depicting Russia and Ukraine unity from the Pereyaslav Treaty in 1654 to the October Revolution in 1917. There’s also a portrait of Lenin at the end of the hall.

Evasion Montage Blog Banniere

Park Pobedy

(Парк Победы – line 3) Park Pobedy meaning “Victory Park” was open in 1938 is the deepest station in Moscow at 84 meters undergound. The mosaics at the end of each halls represent some of the grest victories of Russia : the 1812 French invasion and a Xorld War II scene.

Park Pobedy Moscow metro

Park Kultury

(Парк Kультуры – line 5) Opened in 1950, this station has 26 reliefs depicting Soviet youth leisure activities and one of Maksim Gorky and the end of the hall.

Park Kultury Moscow metro

Nagatinskaya

(Нагатинская – line 2) Nagatinskaya was open in 1983 & is depicting Moscow’s history including the Kremlin builders, soldiers etc. It’s quite off the very center of Moscow and not as impressive as the others but worth the detour in my opinion.

Nagatinskaya Moscow metro

Novokuznetskaya

(Новокузнецкая – line 2) Opened during World War II in 1943 in honnor of the Great Patriotic War and its soldiers. It has Soviet bronze ornaments on the walls, mosaics on the celling, and giant marble benches to take a seat and admire the place.

Novokuznetskaya Moscow metro

Taganskaya

(Таганская – line 5) Taganka was an historial quarter in the middle age. The station has plenty of medieval-like ornaments. Each maiolica panels has a relief of a red army soldier. A curious mix of history.

Taganskaya Moscow metro

Aviamotornaya

(Авиамоторная – line 8) Has its name states it, the station is dedicated to aviation. If you look up to the ceiling, you will see stars and constellations. At the end of the hall you will see a metal made scupture of the flight of Iracus. Not the Iron Maiden’s song, but the greek myth.

Aviamotornaya Moscow metro

Ploschad Revolutsii

(Площадь Революции – line 3) Named after Revolution Square above it, the station was opened in 1938.
There are 76) bronze statues, representing the people of the Soviet Union & its glorius past. It is believed that touching/rubbing some parts of these statues brings luck, that’s why you will see some very polished ones. Welcome to the world of curious Russian believes !

Ploschad Revolutsii Moscow metro

Arbatskaya

(Арбатская – line 3) The first Arbatskaya station was opened in 1938 but was bombed and they built this one deeper and became an anti nuclear shelter in case of atomic bomb attack.
The architectural style of the station is “Baroque Moscow” from the 17th and 18th century.

Make sure you go to Arbatskaya station on the dark blue line 3, not the one on line 4.

Arbatskaya Moscow metro

More ressources

  • News.metro.ru has plenty of up to date informations about the metro and here is an interesting one to learn more in details about the architecture of each stations.
  • Do you want to learn more about the secret metro 2 ? Check out Andrei Pyzh’s Youtube channel. He is a quite famous URBEX explorer, including Moscow’s metro. The guy got arrested last year though and face few years in prison …
Moscow metro

Here you have it all to visit the most beautiful metro in the world and get a pretty good overview of it without spending days exploring the +200 stations.

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