Most city tours focus on what’s above ground – the buildings, the monuments, the parks – but one of the best ways to see Moscow is by Metro.
You can join a guided tour but it’s easy enough to follow your own route, admittedly without the narrative. However, a key advantage is not having to wait for 20 people to have their photo taken in front of a mural (and then get in the way of your attempt at the perfect shot).
The Metro system carries, according to my Red Square Walking Tour guide, 6 million people every day: the population of a small country, she said.
That’s a busy system and, at rush hour, as the sea of people surges around you, it’s a very believable statement.
Top tip – in these circumstances, look for a woman in her 50s or early 60s and get behind her, because she will know how to get through the crowd quickly and easily. Well, quickly in comparison with your efforts.
Obviously, don’t do the Moscow Metro exploration during the commuting times.
Travelling by Metro in Moscow is easy. The introduction of English language place names, alongside the original Cyrillic, makes navigation easier.
With most of the Metro journeys also having announcements in English you can also use the time to attempt to learn Russian letters and pronunciations.
I now know that a C is pronounced as a S, in Russian Smolensk begins with an C. Double CC creates a ‘sh’ as in Russia.
I’ve missed a couple of stops as I’ve been concentrating on the Metro Maps and confirming how to spell in Russian ‘-skaya’ as in Smolenskaya and Tverskaya.
The brown circle line, legend has it, is apparently the result of Stalin putting a coffee cup down on the plans. Nobody dared to query the brown ring on the documents so the circle line, and as a brown line on the map came into being.
Do I believe it? I don’t know but it’s certainly a great story.
Most of the Metro system was developed after the 1930s and key stations are decorated with communist or World War 2 victory themes.it makes for some remarkable sights.
Travelling by Metro is cheap… 55R (approx 70p) per journey whether that’s one stop or ten with three changes.
For tourists, the best option is a three day pass at 438R ( approx £5-6). You can buy this in any Metro station from the ticket offices.
If the staff do not speak English, they will direct you to the information desk. Here another member of staff will find out what you want and write a note for their colleagues.
Travelling in Moscow really is much easier than it used to be.
*Featured Photo: Komsomolskaya Station