Sep 15

MOSCOW – THE CAPITAL OF THE POWERFUL OLIGARCHS (МОСКВА)

In the past 20 years, the symbol – city of the former Red Empire has reborn in a way that former communist leaders such as Lenin, Stalin or Brezhnev would not have ever anticipated and it became the world capital of Western-like “decadent” refinement, designed to meet the demands of numerous millionaires who are now spinning wheels of power.

Luxury boom

The Soviet Union is now long gone and Moscow – as we know from the past times of pompous military parades celebrating with glittery propaganda the Victory Day or the Great October Revolution, or when MiGs flown over haughty official stand, where leaders of the Bolshevik Party, with their backs bent down from so many decorations and medals, were governing the scenery – has transformed into exactly the opposite as the Communist leaders and philosophers had imagined it would be for eternity.

Ex-communist metropolis is continually borrowing the made in USA commercial symbolism: from KFC to the Hard Rock Café. Becoming a center of big business, Moscow – although it remains in a proportion of 70% a gulag of the needy, hosts successive waves of expats, but also the local oligarchy out of which rows of Forbes nominees are being regularly recruited for the magazine’s charts. Logically, their lifestyle expectations have changed and there are already plenty of individuals and clans that do not exclude cosmopolitan luxuries or even daily extravaganza from their way of living.

The Russian economic growth rate, higher than in Western Europe, partly justifies this trade boom of luxury goods, considered until recently one of niche. Besides legal affairs, in Moscow also bloomed an impressive black economy with sophisticated transactions, including weapons of last generation. And the beneficiaries of this boom – “les nouveaux riches” -, when they don’t buy luxury residences on the French Riviera (where more than half of the restaurants are already displaying their menu in Cyrillic alphabet), they invest heavily in their personal comfort, ready to shell out any price for whatever latest fashion caprice that, only a decade ago, it would have seemed unthinkable.

Why should you get to Moscow?

Because it truly is a very beautiful city, whose center can be compared without any exaggeration, to any other major European capitals – Paris, London, Rome or Madrid. In addition, although today the capital of the East turned into the citadel of the oligarchs and demanding millionaires, it is not “so” expensive: a night in a decent 4 star hotel in close proximity to the center should not be more than 65 euros for 2 people , while prices in restaurants and bars are surprisingly low; and as for shopping, the ladies will have plenty of surprises: in malls and shopping spots in central Moscow there are crowded the most prestigious brands in the world and the prices here are usually consistently lower than those of Paris or Vienna. If money is not a problem, in Moscow you will find the latest collections of famous designers before they get to London or New York. Besides all these issues more or less questionable of “decadent capitalist consumerism”, Moscow has a special charm build upon the symbols that provide its identity:

The Red Square. It is the heart of the city and should be the first destination to visit to sample more of the consistent flavor of the metropolis. St. Bazil’s Cathedral is flanked by the State History Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum, the most exclusive mall Moscow, GUM, and one of Kremlin’s walls. Basically, here you have comprised the quintessential of the city: ancient historical buildings, relics of communism and symbols of New Russia, all concentrated in a few square kilometers. For a leisurely visit to all locations embodied in the Red Square you will need at least two days. To make it easier, take the subway from one of the metro stations in the vicinity of Red Square: Ohotnii Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii.

Old Arbat Street. At first glance it looks like a combination between a hardly digestible Turkish bazaar and an alley in the historic center of Naples, but Arbat but has its particular charm: it is crowded with cafes, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The prices of the latter can be negotiated.

Bolshoi Theater. The price of a show is pretty steep, starting at 1,000 rubles, you can relax on the majestic fountain in front and admire the famous building.

Tretyakov Gallery. It is one of the largest and finest museums in the world – if you want to visit one museum in Moscow, you should definitely pick it up. Here you will find exclusively Russian art: paintings and sculpture the most famous Russian artists and the richest collection of ancient Russian icons.

Gorky Park. The biggest and most famous Moscow Park boasts impressive green spaces, promenades, statues and cafes. It is the most popular meeting and leisure place for city residents. During winter, most paths are decorated with statues of ice.

Photo source:

Picture 1: radissonblu.com; Picture 2: rubelli.com; Picture 3: almaty-kazakhstan.net; Picture 4: flikr.com; Picture 5: newmoscowtravel.com; Picture 6: youtube.com
May 16

MOSCOW SUBWAY SYSTEM BETWEEN PRACTICAL REQUIREMENT AND ARTISTIC MASTERPIECE

The Russian subway system is among the oldest on the world. Its construction begun in 1930 and ever since then, the railways kept on being built. Nowadays it measures approximately 250 kilometers in length. It’s the second most crowded and most used metro system in the world, after the one in Tokyo.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The most impressive about the subway in Moscow are the stations: the beautiful architecture, the decorations, the several styles combined, everything makes you think of monuments and museums, rather than public transport.

Most stations have been built during Joseph Stalin’s regime, and represented one of his vanities – positive ones – and his endeavor to show the world that he such beautiful things will be a part of his legacy.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The stations are decorated in the same style as some of the Russian palaces: marble of different colors, Byzantine mosaics, and elegant combinations of tiles, stained glass, frescos, chandeliers, and bronze statues, all of them adorning all the 140 stations in Moscow. Few people know that these precious assets are the remains of thousands of churches and monasteries which Stalin had demolished, in his attempt to build the greatest socialist empire of the world, like in the case of Park Kulturii, Kropotninskaya or Okhotnii Riad, three stations where the marble pieces once made of the walls of Jesus the Savior Cathedral.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

The subway itself is one of the most important and popular touristic attractions of the Russian capital, and out of the 150 subway stations in Moscow, Komsomolskaya is considered to be the most beautiful. The subway station is almost like a museum. It is decorated with paintings by the greatest artists in Russia and is illuminated by crystal chandeliers weighing several tons each. It was inaugurated in 1935 and you can admire the tall pillars, gray-blue marble and granite floor. The imposing ceiling is decorated in a Baroque style with mosaics whose themes target Russians’ struggle for freedom and independence.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

Mayakovskaya is considered to be one of the most beautiful stations; it was inspired by the Soviet poet Mayakovski’s visions on the future of the country. It has 34 mosaics made by Russian artist Alexander Deyneka, and during World War II, the station served as anti-missile shelter.

Entuziastov Shosse. The theme of this station is the Russian people’s struggle for freedom throughout history. Here visitors can admire many types of revolutionary marble sculptures and paintings created under revolutionary ideals; among the numerous works of art, you can distinguish the “Flames of Freedom” sculpture belonging to A. Kuznetsov.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

Prospekt Mira is located in the northern side of the city, in an area where there are not many tourist attractions. This station was decorated by architects Vladimir Gelfreyech and Mikhail Minkus and was inspired by elements of the botanical garden nearby.

Ploshchad Revolyutsii: a station where you can observe the 76 sculptures arranged thematically, from parents with their children, athletes, students, farmers, workers or soldiers. At the entrance, there is the statue of a customs officer with a dog whose nose is often petted by passers-by, as the legend says that it brings them luck.

Arbatskaya station was built primarily to serve as anti-atomic bunker. It is the deepest metro station in the world (dug 41 meters underground) and is the second largest in Russia.

mymodernmet.com

mymodernmet.com

In Novoslobodskaya station visitors can admire handmade stained glass 32 in Lithuania, a country that prides itself on tradition in this area.

Kievskaya. This is the “pearl of the Soviet Empire”. This metro station is the first in Moscow and is named after the city of birth of Joseph Stalin – Kiev (Ukraine). The station is decorated with sculptures, paintings and mosaics made by the greatest artists of Russia.

There are dozens more and each bears a unique mark of classic elegance slightly touched by the socialist plate.

Either way, the Moscow metro represents one of the most sought sites in Moscow and will welcome you any day.