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Discovering Russia

Opulent, vaulted, marble-columns. Ornate mosaics and stunning stained glass. You'll find yourself wondering if you're really traveling along Moscow's famed underground subway system or if you're visiting a museum! In reality you're experiencing both.

Between the 1930's and the 1950's, this amazing network of 120 subway stations was built. Thirteen of the most impressive were constructed in only 3 and 1/2 years. The wonders of socialism at your fingertips - visitors could easily spend an entire vacation underground, marveling at these elaborate works of art that include bronze sculptures, glittering chandeliers and bas-relief friezes.

A word to the wise: do your sightseeing on the weekends when the crowds are smaller. And avoid traveling during rush hours. Having established that, here are some of the more famous stations:

Ploshchad Revolyutsii - Conveniently located between the Kremlin and Red Square, this station has a series of marble-lined arches, decorated at either end with life-size cast-bronze sculptures. Each figure represents an "everyday hero" from the revolution and the early Soviet state. Mayakovskaya - This station won the Grand Prix for urban design in the New York World's Fair in 1938 and is considered one of Moscow's most beautiful. Kropotkinskaya - A great example of Art Deco influence. With clean lines and simple colors.

Novoslobodskaya - Stunning stained-glass panels that showcase figures of Russia's working class - factory workers, farmers and architects - amid a backdrop of ornate flowers and stars.

Park Kultury - One of the first stations to be completed, it has an elegant series of arches with inlaid stone bas-reliefs that portray the working class engaged in sports and recreation such as skating, tennis, soccer, and playing the violin.

Smolenskaya - The vestibule has a grand, ribbed dome, with an elaborate star, hammer, and sickle in the overhead bull's-eye. A larger-than-life-size bas-relief celebrates the Soviet Army and its triumphs. A great place to wrap up your sightseeing as this station lets you out at Old Arbat - a pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants and the Hard Rock Cafe.

 



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