Most cities' public transit systems are necessary eyesores. Moscow's is a masterpiece. Central planning meant that Stalin was free to pour funds and artistic energy into creating the metro. Today it's the world's busiest subway system. However, it's showing some strain, as even trains that run every 90 seconds aren't enough to diffuse crowding. The system is still cleaner than most other big-city subways. Its oldest stations, dating from the 1930s and 1940s, are its grandest, particularly those on the Circle Line. The newer stations at the edges of town are corridors of bland but well-polished white tile. Even if you don't use the metro to get around, take a peek at one of the following stations: Ploshchad Revolutsii, with its bronze sculptures of Soviet swimmers, mothers, and sailors holding up the marble columns; Kievskaya (Circle Line stop), with its cheerful mosaics portraying Ukrainian-Russian friendship; Novokuznetskaya, with its cast-iron streetlights; and Novoslobodskaya, with its Art Nouveau stained glass.
For an even closer view of the metro, with models and an avalanche of statistics, visit the tiny Metro Museum atop the Sportivnaya station (tel. 495/622-7309; free admission; open to individuals Thurs 9am-4pm; open for groups only Mon-Wed and Fri 9am-4pm). The friendly director is a former metro driver who has a lifetime of stories to share (though in Russian only). Most stations are quite deep, and all have head-spinningly long escalators; some of the stations were even built as bomb shelters during World War II.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010