Kievskaya Moscow metro station

Kievskaya station of Moscow metro is yet another veteran of the city’s underground network. Built in 1954, it’s slightly younger than Kurskaya, and it was the first subway station that was finished after the rule of Joseph Stalin.

There’s that joke we have in Russian “he’s so old he remembers Lenin”. Well, Kievskaya doesn’t remember neither Lenin nor Stalin, but she came online right after Nikita Khruschev rose to power. Don’t worry, though – although Stalin was already dead, the station was built strictly according to the old Soviet standards, which mean a lot of space, great design – and artwork.Lots of artwork!

Yes, the station was built with the art in mind – there are many mosaics and fretwork that even the most demanding passenger will like. No wonder, as there originally were more than 40 design projects submitted for the review! This number is truly huge, even by the Soviet scale, so there had to be a good reason for such government attention.Well, in fact there was one.

You see, Nikita Khruschev was born in Ukraine. Despite he was a true Soviet patriot, he never forgot his “minor motherland”, as we call it. In fact, he loved Ukraine so much he was wearing the national shirt called “Kosovorotka” under the suit! It may not be the best outfit for a leader, but Khruschev was known to be a very eccentric man who yet knew very well what he was doing.

Remember his promise to show the West where “Kuzma’s mother” lived? When he was banging his shoe on the table right in the UN? I used to think he was nuts, but now I’m pretty sure all of this was planned in advance. I think he wanted to intimidate, to show the world how unreasonable and bloodthirsty he was. Well, I may be wrong, but back then he succeeded.

Anyways, when Nikita became the Secretary General of the USSR, he thought that Ukrainian contribution to the creation of the Soviet state was not properly captured. In order to solve that problem, he decided to build a whole metro station dedicated to his people’s fight for the better tomorrow.

And so, “Kievskaya” project was started.As I said, there were more than 40 design versions submitted for the review, so the competition was pretty fierce. Eventually the commission managed to find a winner, and it happened to be a Kiev-based team. Protection? Coincidence? Go figure, but personally I think politics were involved in the final decision.

On the other hand, it may be just reasonable to let Ukrainians design something dedicated to Ukraine. After all, who else knows their country better? Who can share the story of Ukrainian participation in the struggle of the Soviet people better than Ukrainians themselves?

So, as I said – comrade Khruschev knew pretty well what he was doing…
If you get down to Kievskaya and look at all those mosaics the architects carefully laid out, you will see that Ukrainian theme runs through all of them. Nearly all of them are dedicated to the October Revolution of 1917 and the following civil war.

Artwork at Kievskaya metro station in Moscow

Some mosaics picture the scenes of the Great Patriotic War
(by Bernt Rostad)

All those soldiers you’ll see are actually wearing the uniform of those times, and in fact are fighting their own kind! Yes, the civil war was horrible. Brother turned against brother, the entire families were split across the front lines…

Those nice little mosaics may be nice, but there’s a real tragedy pictured on them. If you’ve never thought about it, that’s OK, because frankly – many Russians do not remember that gloomy part of our country’s history. Maybe one day things will change…

On the other hand – whatever dark pages Russian history may have, we still have to know about all of them. Sure, the pictures in Moscow metro built by communists are not the most objective source of information, but they’re still enough to make you ask questions. And make no mistake – Ukrainian people paid a terrible price for making the Soviet revolution happen.

However, even if you put the history lessons aside, there’s much to see in Kievskaya. Those elegant hallways, this broad space that’s enough even for today’s Moscow metro crowds… all of this was planned and built by the Soviet architects who left us a message throughout the years.

See, I like to think about Moscow metro stations as “time bombs” – they were put deep into the ground by our ancestors to form a deep historic bondage between the generations.

These days, we may very well laugh at them. The Communism has fallen, the Soviet leaders of the past are dead – and even USSR itself is no more. In short – our grandpas and grandmas made a whole lot of mistakes that we pay for up until this day.

However, even provided all that, I can’t help but marvel at their legacy. Moscow subway was built by volunteers, and volunteers alone. The Soviet state simply could not afford to pay for those tremendous construction works, and so the people gave it to their country for free.

An economist will say that nothing is free and that the metro has cost Soviet economy this way or another, but you know what? I don’t care about those eggheads. Let them deal with the financial meltdown they caused, and leave the history of my city to me! :)

The economists will never understand the ideals our grandfathers fought for. They will never understand what a tremendous accomplishment it was for the volunteers to build those marvelous underground palaces. They weren't paid nearly enough for their job, often starved, and yet all they were concerned with was how to donate more to their country.

We don't see that today that often, and you know what? Despite all the bad things, I miss that idealism. Today, when everything has a set price, people mostly care about their own profit. Some say it's good, and it's hard to disagree, but I doubt that we'll ever make the world a better place if we only think in terms of return on investment.

Inside of Kievskaya metro station in Moscow.

Looks more like a palace than a metro station
(by Bernt Rostad)

Sure, the USSR was not nearly a paradise, but look at our world you really like what you see? I'd say a little idealism wouldn't hurt, don't you agree?

Alright, alright, I'm done with the preaching :) We talked enough about the past of Kievskaya, but what about the present? Well, it's no less interesting! First of all, the station links straight to "Kievskiy" rail terminal, one of Moscow's major traffic hubs.

From there, you can easily get to Moscow's southwestern outskirts by riding the electric commuter train ("elektrichka"), or go as far as Ukraine if you wish. "Kievskiy" rail terminal is also used by service taxis as a gathering point, so if you wish to get to, say, "Kuntsevo" district, you can ride one from there.

The square of "Kievskiy" rail terminal (or "Kievskiy vokzal") is nowadays a work of art. I believe it was designed by the French artisans, but in any case it's definitely something to take a look at!

I remember the days when the square was a one big mess of people and cars. Back then, I hated passing through it, as you could easily get yourself run over. Plus, there were huge construction works nearby, which worsened the situation even more. What a huge difference from today!

By the way, those construction works were actually the building of "Evropeiskiy" shopping mall. Once you're done with taking the pictures of Kievskaya and the rail terminal, you absolutely *must* pay it a visit!

Why? Because that's probably the biggest store in Moscow – and easily the most gorgeous one! Ahh, those shops, cafes, cinemas...the stunning design... the choice... In short, "European shopping mall" is the cathedral of consumption, and if you miss some of you country's luxury - this is the answer to your prayers!

Kievskaya Moscow metro station is a place that's definitely worth your time. Take the pictures of mosaics and artwork, breathe the air of Soviet history – and get upstairs to see for yourself how Moscow has changed after the fall of Communism...

...and to have a cup of dellicious coffee in "Evropeiskiy" :)

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