I go down the steps of the underpass outside my hotel gate turn left as if to cross to the other side of the street, but in instead turn right midway through the underpass and this puts me in the Avtozavodskaya ticket hall. I had already been online this morning and worked out my route at the Moscow metro website and had a pocket version of the map in my pocket. Here’s a link http://engl.mosmetro.ru/pages/page_0.php?id_page=4 if you select lines and stations from the menu on the left. This takes you to a metro map where you can get an estimate of the amount of time you will spend travelling between the stations. Getting around Moscow on the metro really is very good even with poor language skills I find many people eager to help but not those in an official position. So approaching the ticket counter I use my poor Russian and fingers, to indicate the number of rides ticket I require.
Avtozavodskaya is on the Zamoskvoretska Line (Green Line) that runs northwest to southeast across the city. I had decided earlier that taking just 3 stops to the Teatral’Naya station would work well for me. A short walk down ulitsa Okhotnyy, and I could approach Red Square from the Resurrection Gate. As I walked down the sun was so strong I thought I was back in the desert. As it was lunchtime and I needed to eat I dived into one of the many café bars.
On coming to the Resurrection Gate there was a hell of a lot of tourists many from other parts of Russia as well as foreigners like me. With high volumes of tourists come there guides, street traders and usually pickpockets. So it was time to do a little check make sure cash and documents were all in order. That done I went through the Resurrection Gate this version of it only opened in 1996. As you walk on up to the square on the left they have put in the Lady of Kazan Cathedral this version opened in 1994 the prior one having been demolished in 1936.
Then the square with GUMS the department store on the left and the Lenin mausoleum and Kremlin walls on the right. At the top of the square on the right part hidden by a massive stage St Basil’s Cathedral. As I dropped into GUMS to grab a coffee and ice-cream, (its Friday afternoon as hot as hell so I treated myself) and looked out on the square I remembered the old newsreels of my youth, and thought the they must have shot the footage from the roof or upper floors of this ancient store. Also the square did not look as big as it seemed on the newsreels. (The picture below is from an earlier visit as on this visit the stage would obscured St Basil’s).
Then as I looked back on my route I realised back in the 1960’s there was no Resurrection Gate or Lady of Kazan church, to obstruct the huge missile carriers, tanks and ranks of soldiers we use to see pass through the square.
I left the square walking past St Basil’s Cathedral and dropping down onto the embankment Kremlinskaya nab. My thinking it might be a bit cooler walking down by the river, and it was though the traffic has become a real pain. Russians do like to use their car horns. So I walked down along the Kremlin wall towards the new Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Which was finished in 2000.
Christ saviour from the southeast view.
The original built in 1850’s 60’s. This was another casualty of the soviet atheist state and demolished in the early 1930’s. Not before the finance ministry had identified that the golden domes of the cathedral, were of good quality gold and there was some 20 tons of gold to be had. The original marble high relief’s were also saved. Some of the marble went into the nearby metro station which was to serve the “The Palace of the Soviets” which was to have been built on the site when cleared of rubble. Construction was beset by problems finally getting underway in 1938.
Then WWII came and the materials that had been used so far were along with those designated for it moved to the war effort so the “The Palace of the Soviets” was never built. In the late 1950’s the site became an open-air swimming pool the largest in Europe. That would have been welcome on a day like today with strong sunshine and temperatures in the low thirties Celsius. During the winter I imagine it could have been used as a public skating rink to.
Found this image of the pool on wikipedia.
It was now getting on for five in the evening and the sun was still strong so I decided to head back to the hotel from the nearest metro station. Kropotkinskaya which had been built to serve the never realised “Palace of the Soviets”. There two ways to do this red line back to Teatral’Naya station then over to green line for Avtozavodskaya, or I could go onto Park Kultury for the brown ring line and change at Paveletskaya for the green line to Avtozavodskaya. I took the second option working on the basis at least these metro stations are interesting so why not see more of them.