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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Exhibitions - Moscow Metro

Star rating - 10/10

It may seem odd to have my best cultural experience in Moscow deep underground in its metro system, but this efficient and very busy system of transport also happens to house spectacular ‘people’s palaces’ of art to rival anything else on display in the city.

Not all the metro stations are treasure troves, but many of those built in the 1930’s and 40’s are hidden gems beyond belief. The Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square) station has impressive bronze statues of ordinary Soviet citizens doing their bit for the cause, and soldiers, peasants, and engineers are all represented. Muscovites are quite superstitious, and they believe that rubbing the nose of the dog featured in one of the sculptures will bring them good luck, so you can see just how shiny and sparkling they would all have been when first erected by the cleanly rubbed animal’s features. And many other stations have equally impressive but utterly different offerings.

Such beauty coming from a regime that was also guilty of such atrocities is startling. The art in the metro stations depicts the Soviet system, its leaders, and their battle against Hitler. It was also a very efficient way of distributing the propaganda of the age, but if you just take a trip and get off at random stations, you will be amazed and suitably impressed by beautiful chandeliers, marble, and mosaics. They truly are underground palaces, and well worth braving the mysteries of the Moscow Metro, which doesn’t have any translations from the cyrillic alphabet so it can be a bit tricky. It sure beats the London Underground.

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