If you happen to be visiting Moscow, don’t rush your journey when getting from A to B. The Moscow Metro is one of the most impressive underground transit systems in the world, distinguished by its impressive palatial stations. This was no coincidence – the Soviet government conceived Moscow Metro stations as people’s palaces, demonstrating the architectural and engineering prowess of the Soviet Union. Continue reading to learn some interesting information about Europe’s busiest underground system and when you’re done, click through the gallery to fully appreciate the intricate beauty of the Moscow Metro.
1. The Moscow Metro was mapped out by a Stalin associate
The decision to build the Moscow Metro was taken in 1931 and built to a plan devised by Stalin’s associate Lazar Kaganovich. During the construction of the first lines, the Soviet engineers were assisted by British engineers who had worked on the London Underground. The first line was opened on 15 May 1935, and the system expanded rapidly over the course of the subsequent decades.
2. Metro Lines can be easily identified
At the time of writing, the Moscow Metro system is made up of 12 lines and 198 stations and continues to expand. Each line can be identified in one of three ways: by its name, by its numerical designation, and by its colour. For example, the Sokolnicheskaya Line is No. 1 and Red.
3. Only the London Underground is longer than Moscow Metro
More than 10,000 trains run along the 329 kilometres of the network, making it the second-longest in Europe, after the London Underground. The longest line is the Arbato-Petrovskaya Line (No.3, Dark Blue,) which extends for 44.3 kilometres. The shortest, the Kakhovskaya Line (No. 11, Light Blue,) is a mere 3.3 kilometres.
4. It’s the busiest station in Europe!
Sorry London Underground, but Moscow Metro is the busiest underground system in Europe, with 2.451 billion journeys completed over the course of 2014. (The corresponding figures for second- and third-placed Paris and London are 1.5 and 1.3 billion respectively.) Approximately 700,000 passengers use the system each day, while at its busiest the daily ridership can exceed 900,000.
5. And Vykhino is the busiest of all!
Situated to the southeast of Moscow on the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line (No. 7, Purple), Vykhino station gets around 170,000 passengers every day, with the vast majority being commuters.
6. They also have a Circle Line…
A significant feature of the Metro network is the Koltsevaya, or Circle Line (No.5, Brown). This line is 19.4 kilometres long and consists of 12 stations, including access to five railway termini. Since the vast majority of the network’s other lines run through the city centre and intersect with the Circle Line, it is often the easiest way to transfer between the other lines.
7. Watch out for the elaborate Komsomolskaya station
Named after the Komsomol (Young Pioneers), the station hall features a yellow baroque ceiling decorated with elaborate motifs and mosaics celebrating Russia’s military glory, featuring (among others), Alexander Nevsky, Dmitry Donskoy, Mikhail Kutuzov, and victorious scenes from the Second World War. Since the station is located under three major railway termini (Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky, and Kazansky) it is often the first and last metro station encountered by visitors to Moscow.
8. The station that took 40 years to open
At first glance, there might not be much to say about the station Spartak, found on the Tangansko-Krasnopresnenskaya Line. However, despite construction being completed in 1975, the station did not open until 2014. The station was designed to serve a housing development which was never built, and the entrances were sealed off. Eventually the station found its purpose upon the construction of the nearby Otkrytiye Arena, home to football (soccer) club Spartak Moscow.
9. In case you’re afraid of heading in the wrong direction…
An interesting feature of the Moscow Metro can reassure passengers that they are travelling in the right direction. For most lines, male voices are heard on inbound trains towards the city centre, while female announcers are heard on trains heading away from the city centre. On the Circle Line male announcers are used on trains travelling in a clockwise direction, and female announcers on those travelling anti-clockwise.
10. Your fellow commuters might not always be human…
Moscow is home to a large number of stray dogs, around five hundred of whom find their shelter in metro stations. A small number of these are said to have learnt how to navigate the system, travelling into the city centre during daylight hours before returning to their home stations in the evening.