15 Most Beautiful Moscow Metro Stations to Visit in Russia (Tips & Travel Guide)

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My first trip to Russia was a sudden travel project that I had to do for a client; that’s why I didn’t have the time to thoroughly research the sights that I’ll be seeing… I did have some idea about most of the city’s attractions, but not so much about the beauty that is found “under” the capital. So imagine my surprise when I first set foot in the breathtaking Moscow Metro stations!

After all, I have witnessed beautiful railway stations in Europe before, but the scale and design of the ones in Moscow were nothing short of a masterpiece. (Much like St Petersburg Metro Stations).

It may just be a way of transport for Russian locals, but as a visitor, a huge number of them were overwhelmingly gorgeous that I could have easily mistaken as grand halls, castles, or cathedrals!

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In fact, they say that though London has the oldest or that Shanghai has the biggest train stations, Moscow’s very own are said to be architectural legends in their own right, making them one of the most beautiful in the world.

With over 241 Moscow Metro stations, you will also find that no two stations look alike — some may be quite simple, but most are elegantly decorated. Surely it would be impossible to see all of them in one go, so in order to save you time, money, and effort, I have compiled below a list of the 15 most beautiful Moscow Metro stations that you MUST see!

…But before we jump into that, let me share with you some brief history, as well as some metro tips that you need to take note of.

History of Moscow Metro Stations

The Moscow Metro (Московский метрополитен) serves the city of Moscow as well as the neighboring Moscow Oblast cities of Krasnogorsk, Reutov, Lyubertsy, and Kotelniki.

Though the first projects for the Metro were created long ago — even dating back to the Russian Empire — plans had to be postponed due to events of World War I, the October Revolution, and the Russian Civil War. In the 1920s, the project was resumed and construction was finally initiated in the 1930s.

On May 15, 1935, the first line called Sokolnicheskaya (Line 1, Red) was opened to the public.

THE CIRCLE LINE
Koltsevaya (Line 5, Brown) is commonly called the “Circle Line” and as the name implies, it’s a circle route that orbits central Moscow. It was built from 1950 to 1954 and holds 12 stations.
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Since it was built during the height of Stalin’s regime, you will find that all of the stations here portray the style of socialist classicism which is monumental yet solemn. Stalin wanted them to be built under the slogan of being “Palaces of the People”, and true enough, stations such as Komsomolskaya and Kiyevskaya are photogenic structures that feature large chandeliers, sculptures, and murals that are not what you would call common designs for an urban public transportation system.

Today, the Moscow Metro has over 241 metro stations with a route length of 412.1 kilometers thereby making it the 5th longest in the world — as well as the longest outside of China! From these number of train stations, 88 were built deep underground, 123 are shallow, 12 are surface-level, and 5 are elevated.

From these figures alone, you will see that most of the train system is found underground and the deepest section will be Park Pobedy station which is at 84 meters!

In fact, due to the way these stations are built, it is said that in World War 2, the Moscow Metro stations served as air-raid shelters or bunkers. In case the enemy closes into the capital, it was even planned for the Metro system to be destroyed; fortunately, that didn’t happen and we can admire these works of art today.

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Metro Travel Guide

How to Use the Moscow Metro System

Open from 5:30AM to 1AM, the Moscow Metro is relatively cheap — certainly a small price to pay for enjoying well-connected transportation AND jaw-dropping architecture!

The Metro is extremely clean and well-guarded by train staff too, so it’s relatively safe; but still, be wary of possible pickpockets because Moscow is a big city. To help make your journey a pleasant one, take note of the following tips.

» Ticket Cost

Troika Metro Card

Photo by: Shutterstock

  • SINGLE TRIP. A single trip ticket (red card) costs RUB55 (less than USD$1) no matter how far or how long your trip is! This means that you can change lines as many times as you can (as long as they are connected) because you only need to present a ticket at the entrance of a station.
    • There are NO zones, so even with just one ticket, you don’t have to worry if you went too far.
  • RECOMMENDED. The easiest way to pay for Metro fare is to buy a red paper ticket at any metro station for a number of pre-loaded trips (e.g. RUB320 for 11 trips, or RUB747 for 20 trips).
    • This red paper ticket can also work on buses and trolleys.
  • CHEAPEST. The cheapest way to use the Metro is to buy a Troika reloadable card. It costs RUB50 to get it, and any balance at the end can be redeemed for cash. It can also be ‘topped-up’ in any metro station.
    • RUB36 is deducted from your card for every trip taken and you can change to a bus, tram, or monorail for an additional RUB20 in the next 90 minutes.
    • It can be used to pay for Aeroexpress tickets to the airport, Velobike sharing, as well as some other city museums and parks.
  • Day and multiple-day passes are also available for purchase.

» Purchasing Metro Tickets

Kacca Ticket Office

Photo by: Shutterstock

Buying tickets is easy because you can get them in every Metro station at either of the following…

  • The ticket office (“KACCA”)
    • You don’t have to speak Russian because you can just hold up your fingers to show the number of tickets you need; otherwise, make use of a translation app
  • The ticket machine booths
    • Accept both money and cards, and are also both in Russian and English.

» Top Tips for Navigating Moscow’s Metro

  • Download a Moscow Metro map for iOS or Android (both can be used offline) — but for a more hassle-free experience, I recommend downloading Google Maps. I used it during my stay in Moscow and I got around just fine!
  • Most signages in the Moscow Metro stations are also in English and Latin; whereas the next stop’s announcement inside the train cars is made in both Russian and English.
    • If you want help translating the Russian signages, download a translation app.

TRIVIA & HELPFUL TIP: An upcoming station is announced by a male voice when a train is going inbound to the city center (on the Circle line, if it’s going clockwise), whereas a female voice is used on a train that is going outbound away from the city center (counter-clockwise on the Circle Line).
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Some people say that this is the case because a man’s voice helps encourages people who are heading off to work, and a female’s voice helps passengers relax on their way back home!

Other Tips

Aquarelle Train (Moscow)

Aquarelle Train photo by: Shutterstock

  • ESCALATORS: Be prepared for some escalators to not only be steep but also a bit faster. Besides, as I’ve already mentioned, most train stations are built deep underground (the longest being at 126 meters!).
    • Stand on the right and walk on the left.
  • RUSH HOURS: Usually from 8AM to 10AM in the morning, and 5PM to 7PM in the afternoon. The trains will get crowded so it’s best to avoid these times if you want to do some sightseeing at Moscow Metro stations. Sunday will usually be a quiet day, or if you can come as early as 6AM in the morning, the better.
  • GUIDED TOUR: If you want a hassle-free experience, you can also just join a guided Metro tour (or do a private tour)!
  • SPECIAL TRAIN CARS: There is a train car called Aquarelle that operates daily on Line 3 (Blue Line). If you’re lucky enough to board it, you’ll find that includes an art gallery!
    • There is also a Sokolniki Retro Train that is designed after the original 1930s trains, and it is typically used around a major anniversary of the Moscow Metro system.
    • During Russian holidays, some of the trains are also decorated.

• • •

15 Most Beautiful Moscow Metro Stations

Finally, you are about to read the list of the topmost beautiful Moscow Metro Stations. You’ll be surprised to see that most of these train stations portray a certain era or history in Russia, if not a political leader or influential person — as such, you might even feel that you are walking through a massive underground museum!

» Arbatskaya (Line 3, Blue)

Best Moscow Metro Stations: Arbatskaya (Line 3, Blue)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Арба́тская: Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya line) Originally intended to serve as a bomb shelter apart from being a train station itself, Arbatskaya is both large (it’s the 2nd longest platform in Moscow) and deep (at 41 meters underground). It’s quite fitting because the Defense Ministry office is found adjacent to it; so in case of any incident, it can serve as an emergency bunker for the military officials.

In the past, this was designed by three people, namely Yury Zenkevich, Valentin Pelevin, and Leonid Polyakov — all of who have been involved with building some Stalinist structures. As a result of their work, you’ll love the high ceiling here that has been elaborately decorated with a number of chandeliers and ornamental elements.

Pair it off with the red marble flooring and it truly creates a nice contrast!

TRIVIA: This train station has been featured in the Moscow segment of the movie Resident Evil: Retribution.

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» Aviamotornaya (Line 8, Yellow)

Aviamotornaya (Line 8, Yellow)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Авиамото́рная: Kalininskaya Line) This is one of the best Moscow Metro stations that is dedicated to aircraft engine designers; therefore, it has a theme centered around aviation as it tries to give the feeling as though you’re flying1

In fact, the anodized gold pyramids on the ceiling have stars and sunray prints, depicting the universe. Other decorations even portray the main constellations, and at the end of the central hallway is a sculpture that depicts Icarus. Given that the Greek mythical story of Icarus has a tragic end, one can deduce that the station also tries to give tribute to aviation creations that have ended up failing and which might have also cost lives.

– – –

» Elektrozavodskaya (Line 3, Blue)

Best Moscow Metro Stations: Elektrozavodskaya (Line 3, Blue)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Электрозаво́дская: Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line) Elektrozavodskaya is one of the most-known Moscow Metro Stations due to its unique and well-lit interior design.

This train station is actually named after the electric light bulb factory that is found nearby and as a part of its style, you will find 6 medallions on the corner niches of the dome structure that represent 6 main pioneers in electricity and electrical engineering.

When the original architect for this Metro station died, the new architects finished the design by adding an additional theme to the station showing the struggles during World War II (seen on the marble bas-reliefs on the pylons).

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» Kievskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Kievskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Ки́евская: Koltsevaya Line) The design for this station was chosen during an open competition in Ukraine and as you will see through the large mosaics spread about Kiyevskaya station, its overall motif highly celebrates Russo-Ukrainian unity from the time of Pereyaslav Rada in 1654 to the October Revolution in 1917.

Golden accents highly accentuate most of the platform’s marble and granite designs; plus, at the end of the hall is a portrait of Vladimir Lenin, a Russian revolutionary that served as a founding head of Soviet Russia and of the Soviet Union.

– – –

» Komsomolskaya (Line 1, Red)

(Комсомо́льская: Koltsevaya Line) This has got to be my favorite among all the Moscow Metro stations because it doesn’t give you the feeling that you stepped into a train station, but rather that of grand palace hall.

Truth be told, the second set of designers who worked on the station’s design were awarded the Stalin Prize in 1951, and in 1958, the Grand Prix title in Expo ’58 in Brussels — which comes as no surprise because the Stalinist Empire style applied to Komsomolskaya is truly magnificent!

You’ll find an imposing yellow Baroque ceiling adorned by a number of elegant chandeliers and supported by 68 white marble columns. Together with these design elements and a number of 8 large ceiling mosaics, the standing theme of the Metro station depicts the Historical Russian fight for freedom and independence.

– – –

» Mayakovskaya (Line 2, Green)

Mayakovskaya (Line 2, Green)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Маяковская: Zamoskvoretskaya Line) One of the most famous Moscow Metro stations, Mayakovskaya is an example of pre-World War II Stalinist architecture that references Futurism (particularly that of the poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky) whilst also portraying impressive 34 ceiling mosaics that depicts “24 Hours in the Land of the Soviets”.

What might have also pushed the fame of this train station further is how it became an air-raid shelter during World War II, and how Joseph Stalin himself took residence in this exact place.

TRIVIA: Stalin often held speeches and celebrated events such as the October Revolution at Mayakovskaya.

– – –

» Novokuznetskaya (Line 2, Green)

Novokuznetskaya (Line 2, Green)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Новокузнецкая: Zamoskvoretskaya Line) One wouldn’t have imagined that this would be opened during the height of World War II because the overall design of Novokuznetskaya is quite luxurious with a lot of heavy ornamentation.

Designed by architects Taranov and Bykova, this particular Metro station honors Soviet fighting men; and for this, they have won a USSR State Prize! You’ll find 7 octagonal ceiling mosaics here that are surrounded by pink and white marble pylons, giant chandeliers, as well as scattered bronze ornaments. (Don’t forget to come out of the station and witness the round entrance vestibule which is quite a sight in itself).

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» Novoslobodskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Novoslobodskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Новослобо́дская: Koltsevaya line) The architect, Alexey Dushkin, wanted to utilize stained glass for the decorations in Novoslobodskay, and that’s exactly why the 32 stained glass panels found on the platform are the main attraction for this station.

With the flowing brass borders that play around the edges of the stained glass panels (that show different patterns and people), as well as the whole layout of Novoslobodskaya, it might seem that you have stepped into an elegant underwater palace — so don’t forget to snap away some pictures!

You would also want to get a glimpse of the Metro station’s entrance or vestibule which is quite an imposing white structure.

– – –

» Park Pobedy (Line 3, Blue)

Best Moscow Metro Stations: Park Pobedy (Line 3, Blue)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Парк Победы: Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya line) Translated to ‘Victory Park’, this is the deepest metro station in Moscow and the 5th deepest in the world at 84 meters underground! Naturally, Park Pobedy has one of the longest escalators in Europe and it will take you about 3 minutes to reach the surface.

DEEPEST METRO STATIONS IN THE WORLD
1. Pyongyang Metro (110 meters)
2. Kyiv Metro’s Arsenalna station (105 meters)
3. Chongqing Rail Transit’s Hongtudi station (94 meters)
4. Saint Petersburg Metro’s Admiralteyskaya station (86 meters)

Predominantly red in hue, the simple red marble design helps make this place look modernly designed, and the expanse is mostly dedicated to the great victories of Russia — as seen from the mosaic of the 1812 French Invasion (found at the inbound platform) and World War II (at the outbound platform).

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» Ploschad Revolutsii (Line 3, Blue)

Ploschad Revolutsii (Line 3, Blue)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Пло́щадь Револю́ции: Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya Line) This Metro station is named after Revolution Square, which is located just above it.

Also designed by Alexey Dushkin, Ploschad Revolutsii is famous for its 76 bronze statues that symbolize the people of the Soviet Union (athletes, aviators, farmers, soldiers, students, writers, and workers), as well as the transformation of Russia from its pre-revolutionary past.

TRIVIA: There is a belief that some of these sculptures will bring good luck to those who rub them, such as that of the patrolman’s dog’s nose (shown in the photo above), the female student’s shoe, the soldier’s pistol, and the roosters.
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Don’t worry because you’ll clearly see which of the statues are often touched because of how the bronze parts are highly polished as a result!

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» Prospect Mira (Line 5, Brown)

Prospect Mira (Line 5, Brown)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Проспе́кт Ми́ра: Koltsevaya line) This is one of the most attractive Moscow Metro stations found on the Circle Line and a lot of tourists love the overall arrangement!

Designed by architects Vladimir Gelfreykh and Mikhail Minkus, the ambiance and motif of the station are based on the nearby Botanical Garden of Moscow State University. This is evidenced by the delicate ceramic floral elements that are spread about in Prospekt Mira as well as the depiction of the development of agriculture in the Soviet Union on the surrounding bas-reliefs.

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» Slavyansky Bulvar (Line 3, Blue)

Slavyansky Bulvar (Line 3, Blue)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Славянский бульвар: Arbatsko–Pokrovskaya line) Opened on September 7, 2008, this is one of the Moscow Metro stations that are designed in a more modern manner.

Architect S.Volovich embellished the whole of the platform vault in Art Nouveau elements: curved lamps, delicate metal leaves, and stretched branches.

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» Teatralnaya (Line 2, Green)

Teatralnaya (Line 2, Green)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Театра́льная: Zamoskvoretskaya Line) In English, Teatralnaya means ‘theater‘, and this Metro station is named like so given that it is near the Teatralnaya Square where most theaters are found (such as the popular Bolshoi Theatre).

True to its name, the main theme of Teatralnaya revolves around the theatre arts of the USSR. For instance, you will find 14 bas-reliefs of different figures that represent music and dance performances from various places in the Soviet Union. There are also accents of crystal lamps scattered around the space, and some of the white marble is said to have been taken from the demolished Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

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» Taganskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Best Moscow Metro Stations: Taganskaya (Line 5, Brown)

Photo by: Shutterstock

(Тага́нская: Koltsevaya Line) This is named after a major junction of Sadovoye Koltso or Garden Ring which is large ring road in central Moscow.

But contrary to its name, the architects wanted this station to portray post-war flamboyance by using traditional Russian motives as decorations. And so, all of the pylon pillars have maiolica panels that each contain a profile of various World War II Red Army and Navy servicemen (pilots, sailors, etc.), and they are surrounded by intricate floral elements and a soft blue background for an elegant finish.

– – –

» BONUS: Other Noteworthy Moscow Metro Stations

  • Line 1, Red: Okhotny Ryad, Vorobyevy Gory
    • Vorob’evy Gory is a unique station because it is on a bridge that crosses the Moscow River!
  • Line 2, Green: Dinamo
  • Line 4, Light Blue: If you’re a history buff, you might like to explore this train line because it holds the oldest stations.
  • Line 5, Brown: Belorusskaya, Park Kultury
  • Line 6, Yellow: VDNKh
  • Line 7, Violet: Spartak
  • Line 10, Light Green: Dostoyevskaya

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is it allowed to take pictures in the Moscow Metro stations?

Yes, it is allowed! In fact, there are some spots in most Metro stations that are marked as photo points. The only restriction that they have is for film-style shooting because for those, you will need the permission of the Metro authorities (because of this rule, I have read accounts wherein people weren’t allowed to shoot with a tripod; but well, I was traveling solo and have used a tripod in Komsomolskaya station but no one reprimanded me).

How many days should I allot for visiting the Moscow metro stations?

Though the trains run every 2 minutes or so, you will still need quite some time for transfers. Even so, it is possible to enjoy the 15 metro stations stated in the list for a whole day; but, if you don’t want to spend so much time underground, you can just take note of these stations and insert some of them in your day-to-day Moscow itinerary as you please.

If I can only explore one Moscow metro line, what should it be?

I would highly recommend exploring Koltsevaya (Line 5, Brown) which is the so-called ‘Circle Line’. After all, its 12 stations are said to be the grandest given how they were built during Stalin’s regime. Nevertheless, try to also mix it with some of the stations found on Line 3 because places like Arbatskaya, Elektrozavodskaya, and Ploschad Revolutsii are places that are worth your while too!

Are there Moscow underground metro tours available?

Absolutely! Join this guided Metro tour (or do a private tour) to have a hassle-free experience.

Is the Moscow subway safe?

In general, Russia is a safe country. Just take note though that since Moscow is a major city with a massive number of people, petty theft can still happen especially when you’re in a tight space such as in a train car — so just stay street smart and use your common sense at all times and you’ll definitely be fine. Rest assured, there are security staff in every train station, so if you ever need assistance, they are pretty easy to spot.

• • •

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• • •

Moscow Metro Stations

Overall

I hope this underground guide will help make your Moscow Metro exploration a rewarding and hassle-free experience!

Let me know in the comments section below if you happen to find any other interesting subway station in the Russian capital that I might have missed.

• • •

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