Komsomolskaya Square in Moscow
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Komsomolskaya Square is one of the most famous places in Moscow. It's located in center, and serves 3 major Moscow rail terminals - Leningradsky, Yaroslavsky and Kazansky.
In addition, you can get to Komsomolskaya Square right from Komsomolskaya Moscow metro station, which of course makes the place pretty crowded. People call it "Three Stations Square", and unfortunately these days it has a very bad reputation.
Today, it's almost impossible to imagine that in 17th century there was a river and a very big pond nearby, while the square itself was a swampy meadow. Russian Tsar Alexey Mihailovich even built himself a palace there so that he could rest during his trips. The area surrounding the palace was named Kalanchevskoe field, and later on the square was also called "Kalanchevskaya".
By the end of the 18th century, the so-called "artillery court" was built there, with cannons and ammunition factory and a warehouse. In addition, there was a firing range there, so you probably can guess why the surrounding territory remained pretty empty for a long time. By the way, Peter the Great later used the pond for all kinds of events, with fireworks and even cannonade.
The infamous fire of 1812 made the artillery yard burn and explode. The explosion was so strong that it shook the entire Moscow. Naturally, everything was wiped out, and so Nikolaevsky rail terminal was built there in 1849.
It connected Moscow with Saint-Petersburg, and since St. Pete's was renamed to Leningrad during Soviet times, Nikolaevsky was also renamed to "Leningradsky". This is the name it's been carrying since then.
In 1862, Yaroslavsky terminal was built between Nikolaevsky and the pond. However, we didn't get to see it because in 1907 it was rebuilt. The building itself is quite interesting, featuring elements of old Russian art and kinda reminds of a fairy-tale house.
During the same years (1862-64), a new railroad from Ryazan was built, and a new Ryazansky terminal was set up as well. The swamps that covered the place were drained.
Later on, Ryazansky rail terminal was renamed into Kazansky, and it was also rebuilt in a modern fashion in the beginning of the 20th century. Plus, they put the nearby river into a tube and drained the pond.
During the October revolution, the terminals played a strategic part. All three of them were captured by the reds, and that allowed them to receive reinforcements from St. Petersburg. Who knows how it would turn out for the communists if they didn't have control of Komsomolskaya Square and its surroundings....
In 1930s, the metro was laid under the square. The station was called Komsomolskaya in honor of Komsomol volunteers who built it. The exit to the square was built as well, and the square was also renamed to Komsomolskaya.
During the 50s, one of Stalin's Seven Sisters was built nearby - Leningradskaya Hotel. At that moment the square has got its present looks.
The place is very controversial. On the one hand, it's the very center of Moscow and a transport hub that processes millions of people daily. In addition, it's a very important architectural spot, because each of the three terminals has got its own unique style. Plus as I said, you can watch one of Stalin's skyscrapers there.
In 2003, a very cozy resting place appeared on Komsomolskaya Square. It has a fountain and benches, but it's also got a monument to Melnikov - one of the authors of Moscow-St.Petersburg railroad project and Russia's first Minister of Railroads.
However, there's a one big problem with Komsomolskaya that Moscow hasn't yet managed to solve. The square is one of the most troubled places in town - there are lots of bums, pickpockets and other crooks. Terrible smell, homeless people everywhere - quite hard to enjoy the view to say the least.
The people who have to pass the square always do it as fast as they can, and they always watch their belongings because there are a lot of thieves. Plus, they try not to buy anything from the street stalls because the food sold there is not healthy to say the least. In short, Komsomolskaya Square needs a new sheriff.
But then there is some good news. Moscow's new mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, promised to deal with all those problems. Part of the square near Yaroslavsky terminal was cleaned before the last City Day, and they even erected a monument there. In addition, all the "unofficial" taxis were removed, and now only registered ones are allowed there.
I do hope that Moscow government will manage to clean up the entire Komsomolskaya Square because it's one of the most beautiful places in Moscow. Meanwhile, you'll have to be very cautious. However, if you watch yourself then you can visit Komsomolskaya even today.
....oh, where is Robocop when you need him?