Novokuznetskaya Moscow Metro Station
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Novokuznetskaya Moscow metro station is yet another jewel of our city's subway. Located in the very center of Moscow, it sits right next to Teatralnaya on the green metro line.
Novokuznetskaya was opened in 1943, right during the Great Patriotic War (or World War II). Naturally, the main theme of the decor is the battle of Soviet people with the enemy.
The station is decorated with marble, pillars and bas-reliefs picturing different military operations of the Red Army. Heck, even the benches are made from white Siberian marble!
However, the most unusual decoration of the station is huge mosaics on the ceiling. They are the work of the famous artist Frolov who decorated a lot of houses and even churches in Saint-Petersburg. You would probably be surprised to know that he designed all the mosaics of the famous Church of the Savior on Blood.
As weird as the name sounds, that church has the most stunning mosaic panels I have ever seen, and they are covering probably every inch of walls and ceiling. Well, history can be ironic, and the same man can decorate both the Christian church and the metro station built by the Soviet Union.
The mosaics were created using the sketches of another famous artist Deyneka. His works are also present on another Moscow metro station Mayakovskaya. However, Novokuznetskaya panels' history is quite different, and here's why.
As you remember, the station was opened during the war.
Life in Moscow was rough, but that couldn't compare to living in besieged Leningrad. The city was completely cut off from the rest of the country, the winters were freezing (especially in 1941), but the worst thing was hunger. Everything the people of Leningrad got was 125 grams of black bread a day!
I'm telling you that because Frolov wasn't working in Moscow. His workshop was in Leningrad, where that freezing, hungry man was working like mad on his panels. He didn't ask the government for food or better work conditions – all he wanted was a little bit of kerosene to keep the lamps burning during his work.
Plus, he had one of the richest collections of smalt in the world – more than 18 thousand tones. Can you imagine how hard it was to find the right tone when all you've got is the dim light of the kerosene lamp?
In the beginning several other artists helped him, but afterwards 70 years old Frolov was working alone. Looking at his panels, I'm amazed how he pictured the delicate pink apples against the bright blue sky while he himself was starving.
When all the panels were finished, they were shipped from the city by the Soviet Navy. Frolov died soon after the last box with mosaic left his workshop. What a man...
By the way, the sketches were initially drawn for another Moscow metro station – Paveletskaya. That's why the workers with heavy construction equipment look kinda unrelated to the station's design. The sketches were switched because no one in Moscow believed that Frolov will continue working on the panels in horrible conditions of Leningrad blockade, and so the design of Paveletskaya was changed. When the panels did arrive in Moscow, it was decided to use them in another station's decor.
From Novokuznetskaya, you can pass to both Tretyakovskaya metro stations (one is on the orange line, another one on the yellow). If you do, pay attention that apart from the mosaics on the ceiling, there's another big panel in the passage (although that's the work of another artist).
You can also exit the station through a circular, rotunda-shaped exit. That way you'll get to Pyatnitskaya, a wonderful old street. That is the very center of Moscow, and from there you can take an interesting walk around the city.
For example, you could get to Tretyakov Gallery through the old, picturesque streets. Or, you can walk to Moskva River embankments and the bypass channel. Actually, the Red Square itself is only two bridges away, so all you'll need is a good map or a local guide.
...just promise me one thing – wherever you go from Novokuznetskaya, don't forget to look on the ceiling before you leave to see those famous panels for which the great artist Frolov lived, worked and died.
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