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Moscow on the move

Moscow on the move
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Choosing the right speed for exploring Moscow is vital because according to architects, the city is best seen on the move.

The underground is the fastest way to get around but take your time because tube stations here are often like palaces, or art museums. Sometimes people even call them time machines.

Konstantin Cherkassky, the director of the Moscow Metro Museum, said: “Let’s take the Mayakovskaya station for example; here we see portrayals of the days of Soviet people who will soar into the sky in the future, because life will be wonderful. At Revolution Square station you see the 20 first years of Soviet history. First, you see the heroes of the revolution; and then the heroes of the Civil War.”

At Revolution Square people also pat a dog’s nose for luck. Konstantin Cherkassky explained: “At first, people thought that patting the dog’s nose before an exam would help you pass. And this belief just expanded. So today people believe if you pat this nose it will bring you money and other things.”

Aleksis thinks that a scooter is lucky. The founder of the “Arts and Culture Project” enjoys exploring the new pedestrian zones which have recently been constructed in the city centre. Aleksis has his own philosophy for exploring Moscow, and he divides travellers into two groups: the “birds” who just fly around; and the “mandarins” who do not get out of the bus.

Cultural historian Aleksis Chernorechenski said: “They see the iconic buildings but not the details. I try to reach another level when I talk to tourists about the city and its history, paying special attention to the science of signs. These signs can be found everywhere in this city, and this is the level of an insect, an insect that can go everywhere.’‘

To see the hidden treasures of Moscow’s avant-garde architecture, Aleksis and his group have chosen another means of transport, the bicycle. But you have to be in good shape for this excursion, because it’s a 30 kilometre bike ride.

Now, everyone can use a bicycle to get around Moscow. The long-awaited public rent-a-bike service has opened. For now there are several dozen stations, but more will be built soon, because demand is so high.

Another novelty is the double-decker sightseeing buses that have finally appeared on Moscow streets. They are not only popular with tourists but also with native Muscovites who enjoy seeing their city from a new perspective.

Sergei Lavrentyev, a City Sightseeing Representative, said: “Three and a half metres might not seem far off the ground but from this vantage point you can see the facades of the so-called Old Moscow. These facades are unique and even magical.”

And then there are the trams which give a flavour of Old Moscow, a city full of charm which inspired writers to describe the trams in their books. Moscow ethnographer Natalia Leonova created a tour on a real tram route that has existed since she was a child: “The tram is the oldest form of transport in Moscow. Just imagine, it’s 114 years old. That is why it allows us to go back in time and travel around the distant parts of Moscow, uniting districts which used to be the far-flung outskirts of Moscow.”

But some people say that the best way to see Moscow is from a boat. The Moscow River, like all rivers in capital cities, played a very large role in the past. That is why the major historical buildings were constructed on its banks.

Architect Veniamin Misoznikov said: “The river is a uniting element; it unites not only the city itself, but also the perception of a man who is looking at the city from the river. At the same time, the perception from the very low angles is always more advantageous and more interesting. This is why I would put the boat on first place in the list of the means of transport for tourists.”

Architects also suggest combining all the different angles to create a unique picture of Moscow that you will remember like a good film.

Blog: Moscow on the move

Moscow Factfile

  • In one hour a passenger on the Moscow underground can travel more than 40 kilometres. The total track length is around 313 km
  • Park Pobedy is the deepest underground station. At 73.6 metres under Moscow, it is the third deepest station in the world
  • At 270 metres in length, Vorobyovy Gory station has the longest platform on the Moscow underground
  • The total length of pedestrianised zones in the centre of Moscow is 19 km. Around 40 new pedestrian zones are planned for the near future
  • The first tram line was opened in Moscow on 26 March 1899. Today there are 48 routes, altogether covering 416 km
  • Moscow river is not the only one in the Russian capital; there are also around 140 smaller rivers and springs, and four lakes
  • A group of seven skyscrapers in the Stalinist Empire style, known as the Seven Sisters, was built between 1947 and 1953. The architects used technology also employed to build American skyscrapers