Day 3. Exploring Moscow

We opened the curtains to find that there had been heavy snow overnight, covering all the surrounding roof tops with a fluffy white blanket.  After a leisurely breakfast we took the metro to Komsomolskaya station which was absolutely beautiful with its painted yellow ceilings and its platforms lit by chandeliers.

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Komsomolskaya Metro Station

The station was designed in Imperial style featuring baroque motifs to create a grand impression for visitors arriving by train. The concourse is located under a large transport hub serving three railway terminals and as well as being elegant is also one of the busiest stations on the network.

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Prospekt Mira Metro Station

From there, we moved on to the Prospekt Mira station which opened in 1952 and is located close to the Botanical Gardens of Moscow State University.  The station’s floral theme of white marble pillars contrasts with its dark red marble walls.  The chequered patterned floor made of grey and black granite adds to its charm.  Although the stations are busy with commuters, we found that crowds dispersed quickly giving us approximately 20 seconds to take photos before the next train arrived.

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Prospekt Mira Metro Station

Our journey on the metro took us to the VDNKH station to the north of Moscow as we wished to visit VDNKH which is also referred to as the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy.  This vast park, which is even larger than the entire principality of Monaco features more than 250 Soviet era pavilions, fountains, a Vostok rocket and a Soviet aircraft.  The park is set out in a series of grand avenues, squares and gardens and covers 20,000 square metres.

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VDNKH Metro Station

The fountains had been turned off for the winter but surrounding them was the biggest ice rink I had ever seen.  This skating rink circles around the main avenues and can cater for a staggering 4,500 people at any one time, and is thought to be the largest in Europe.

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Entrance Archway to the VDNKH Park

Even though it was only about 11.00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, there were numerous people out enjoying the ice and we had some excellent skating views from the top of a bridge crossing the park.

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One of the park pavilions

Unfortunately, many of the pavilions and grand archways were covered in scaffolding whilst renovations were taking place ahead of the FIFA 2018 World Cup tournament to be held in the city.

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Ice skating through the park

After a lengthy stroll through the grounds we popped into a cafe for some hot drinks and a snack before returning to the metro station by monorail.  The monorail comprises 6 stations and is the only monorail operating in Russia. It is officially known as Metro Line 13 being a ticketed part of the metro but is generally referred to as the monorail.

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An old Soviet airliner on display in the park

The separate carriages seat 8 passengers with a large standing area between the seats.  It was very quiet when we travelled on the system, so different from the usual hustle and bustle of life on the Moscow metro.

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Travelling on the Moscow Monorail

Despite our journey being short, we enjoyed some good aerial views of the park and of the statue outside the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics.  We got off at Timiryazevskaya which is located 50 metres from the metro station on Line 9, the point at which we had started our tour of the park earlier in the day.

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The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

Continuing, we took the Red Line to Sportivnaya as we wished to visit the Novodevichy Convent located 500m from the metro.  This convent is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains many churches and other buildings enclosed within its walls.  Sadly at the time of our visit the entire complex resembled a construction site. Most buildings were under polythene wraps and covered in scaffolding, presumably in preparation for World Cup visitors next summer, but not at all photogenic for us.

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Novodevichy Convent

Because of this, we decided to postpone our tour of the convent until a future visit to Moscow and instead walked through the thick snow to the convent’s southern wall to access the Novodevichy Cemetery.  This cemetery was inaugurated in 1898 and the remains of many famous Russians are buried there.  It holds the tombs of Russian authors, poets, musicians, political leaders and scientists.

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Novodevichy Cemetery

At the entrance, we rubbed snow off the cemetery plan using our gloves.  This listed famous people and their plot numbers and on looking through the list, we decided to search for the tombs of Chekhov, Yeltsin, Kruschev and Raisa Gorbachev.  Having made a note of their numbers we set off to try and find some or all of these graves but as the plot numbers were blanketed in thick snow our task proved impossible.  Instead, we just wandered around, admiring the headstones, the cemetery feeling very atmospheric in the blizzard conditions.  Apart from one Chinese tour group, there were few people around as it wasn’t really the weather for a tour around a graveyard.

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Main entrance gate to Gorky Park

Leaving the cemetery we decided to lift our spirits with a visit to the nearby Gorky Park which was just two stops away at Park Kultury station on Line 1.  This well known park was named after the author Maxim Gorky and to reach its entrance from the metro we crossed the road bridge over the wide Moskva river.  Here, we were welcomed into the park by its beautifully illuminated, imposing Soviet entrance gate whose towering columns bear hammers and sickles.

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Walking through Gorky Park

The park was founded in 1928 and houses a huge skating rink with separate zones for figure skating, dancing, children, ice hockey and general skating.  The paths through the park looked gorgeous with their simple yet stylish lighting effects.  In 2011 Gorky Park underwent a major re-construction programme with monuments being renovated and old fairground rides demolished making it a more attractive green space within the city.  The park stretches along the banks of the Moskva river and on reaching its southern end we crossed the river by the Andreyevsky pedestrian bridge.  From this glass covered bridge we had some good views of the river and the illuminated buildings surrounding it.

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Statues outside the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Moscow

We walked back to Port Kultury metro station passing the huge headquarters of the Ministry of Defence on our way.  Snow had continued to fall all day and roads were constantly being cleared by convoys of snow ploughs whilst large numbers of street cleaners with shovels tried their best to keep footpaths clear.

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Heritage livery on the Moscow Metro

Back on the metro, it was interesting observing other passengers who appear to act the same the world over.  One lady was trying to solve a Sudoku puzzle, another was reading from a Kindle whilst most were glancing at their phones.

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St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square

We returned to the hotel for a rest and a relaxing visit to the sauna before heading back to Red Square to eat dinner once again in the GUM department store and then enjoy some of the festivities in the Christmas market.

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Festive decorations inside the GUM Department Store
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80 thoughts on “Day 3. Exploring Moscow

      1. Yes, I can understand. I heard public transports are the best in the world. 🙂
        Everybody told me Moscow, as tourist, was amazing. 🙂 Maybe, I will go one day.
        Thank you for your blog anyway, we can travel too… so that is great !
        You can also travel with food, that is why I like to discover new recipes from the world. I want to share the French gastronomy too with my blog.
        See you soon,
        Jessica

        Liked by 1 person

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    It all looks wonderful, the snowy conditions lend a fairy tale air to it all. Blown away by the metro stations, and they look spotlessly clean as well as beautiful. Really enjoying the Moscow posts, thank you for sharing your travels.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another jam-packed day for you! It is all so amazing! The stations are magnificent. Gorky Park…everything really… and the snow makes everything quite magical! May be we will get there some time. Thanks for the beautiful photos and your excellent commentary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Moscow just before Christmas was beautiful. I had my fingers crossed for some snow and it arrived just in time for us which was great. After the hassle and expense of sorting out visas it was really worthwhile and the city was less expensive than we had anticipated. No snow in northern England now, just wind and rain!

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  3. Was very much looking forward to this post Marion and it’s wonderful. I can’t believe how gorgeous the first two metro stations are. Actually they remind me of the station I went to in North Korea. Just stunning and who would have thought. And in particular these two are just beautiful.

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    1. Thank you for your much appreciated thoughts on my Moscow post Sue. The metro stations are so elegant and clean! Visiting North Korea must have been an even bigger adventure – you can tell me about it sometime! I see you are still up! We watched the fireworks over Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sky News a little while ago. We’re just spending the evening at home with everyone curled up around the open fire (with plenty of drinks and nibbles of course).

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    1. Thank you Kristina for your kind words. Commuters seemed to be respectful of the environment and not dropping litter, etc. The cleaners were busy at the station entrances brushing snow off the steps. Hope you also have a happy new year. We are just celebrating quietly at home with our family.

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