What to expect at Revolution Square metro station?

What to expect at Revolution Square metro station?
12 May 2016

Revolution square metro station is a museum on its own – great architecture, symbolism and superstition at one place.

On May 15th, the Moscow metro celebrates its 81st anniversary. This is a good occasion for us to devote a couple of posts to a magnificent architectural landmark whose role goes far beyond that of making sure that people travel smoothly from one point of the city to another. Indeed, Moscow’s metro stations were built with the idea that they would represent the new places where public life should take place.

The stations were to replace the palaces and banquet halls of the past, where exclusivity and class-identification were the norm. In these new palaces for the people everyone was welcome and was invited to contemplate what the virtues of new Soviet society were. The architectural style of these spaces is also new and very often magnificent by its dimensions, abundance and attention to detail. It is well known that some of the most adventurous and innovative projects – like the ones for Kropotkinskaya, Novokuznetskaya and Kievskaya metro stations – were never realized. Still, stations like Revolution Square on Line 3 of the Moscow underground clearly show how ambitious this undertaking was.

Revolution Square Behind the Escalators

Once you have left the escalator on Revolution square behind, in front of you unfolds a long hall and a system of arches through which are accessible the platforms. On both of its sides, each of these arches has at its foundation two bronze statues.

A total of 76 human bronzes portray the main tenets of Soviet society and what it should look like: parenthood, learning and sport prowess, factory and agricultural labour, the crafts and warfare. In this one limited space were gathered the symbols of virtuous lifestyle and rationality under communist rule. Very unexpectedly, the role of the station’s bronzes seems to have evolved into a bizarre and completely irrational direction, opposite to the one they were initially embodying. Indeed, they look to me as if they were servicing today the superstitious soul of many Muscovites.

Muscovites and the Bronze sculptures

I have visited twice the station with the express purpose of observing the behaviour of Muscovites in the station. Once during rush-hour and again late at night. Surprisingly, what I saw did not change much and people were displaying similar behaviour in completely different contexts. Both in crowded and in an almost completely empty station, many went close to the bronzes and caressed them. Although I have been told by friends that one of the dogs and one of the roosters were particularly strong objects of worship, I saw people approaching and touching all of the figures. Also, often people stopped for a short time and stared the bronze of their choice with what seemed to me to be complete devotion. In Moscow, different interpretations circulate as to what the purpose of these interactions is – luck, fertility, leave a love message, – but to me people were behaving on a completely subconscious and emotional level.

This is definitely a place worth visiting if you are interested in observing the local population!


Garbis, currently learning Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg 

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