Our first stop of the day after breakfast was to the Vorobyovy Gory metro station located on a bridge over the Moskva river making it the only station on the network to have windows. Vorobyovy Gory is often used as an exhibition space and during our visit there were displays of fashion items in circular glass showcases along the lengthy platform.
After viewing Vorobyovy Gory Station we continued to Sportivnaya located in the south west of the city where we exited the station and strolled along the road towards the Novodevichy Convent, a UNESCO world heritage centre. This baroque style convent was founded in 1524 and was closely linked to the Kremlin and used by women of the Tsar’s family and aristocracy. It had been our intention to visit the convent until we discovered it was still undergoing major refurbishments. Obviously a major project as a sign informed us that the work commenced in 2012 and will not be completed until 2022.
It’s partially open to the public during renovations at a reduced cost of just RUB 300 (£3.76) but due to much of it being under wraps we decided to just walk around its exterior walls which are landscaped with trees and ornamental ponds and visit at a later date. We hadn’t realised that the convent covered such a large area as it took us quite sometime to reach the adjoining Novodevichy Cemetery. This famous cemetery contains graves of rich and famous Russians with many huge gravestones, monuments and statues. We wandered around reading some of the plaques including those of Chekhov, Khrushchev and Yeltsin.
In the central avenue preparations were underway for some sort of remembrance service and we watched soldiers marching along carrying military flags practising their routine.
After touring most of the cemetery we returned to the metro station and took a train to Park Kultury (Gorky Park) to view the platform on Line 5 (Brown). We had actually been through this station earlier in the week but had not been on the attractive Circle Line platform which has circular plaques depicting sports and leisure activities associated with the nearby Gorky Park. The walls of this opulent station are faced in grey marble over a black and grey granite floor.
From there we climbed the steps out of the station and crossed the river by the entrance to Gorky Park so that we could follow a path along the riverside embankment which had some attractive wooden seating. We past several attractive cafes and an art exhibition which I’m sure are popular during the summer months but were almost deserted in mid December.
An extremely large statue sits on an island in the Moskva River between Gorky Park and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour at the point where the river divides into the Vodootvodny Canal. As we approached this 15th century sailing ship monument with its three furled masts and rows of ropes, we could see a smaller statue of Peter The Great at the helm of the boat. The statue was designed to commemorate 300 years of the Russian navy.
Continuing on foot towards the Kremlin, we seemed to be making more progress than the traffic which was at a complete standstill. As we neared the vehicle entrance to the Kremlin we noticed that the police had introduced road blocks to allow numerous large black limousines to sweep in and and out of the Kremlin gates.
By the time we had walked through Alexander Park to return to Red Square we were ready for some lunch so we popped into the GUM department store and enjoyed some bowls of pearl barley soup which were served with a delicious dollop of sour cream – and a bargain at only RUB 90 (£1.12) each.
After a little more window shopping in this most beautiful of shopping centres we returned to the metro at the Teatralnaya station just behind the Bolshoi Theatre. This station is unusual has it does not have its own entrance hall as it is linked to both Okhotny Ryad and Ploshchad Revolyutsii stations. From there, we took a train out to Novokuznetskaya station which honours Russian war heroes. Its central hallway decorations include octagonal ceiling mosaics on the theme of wartime, depicting the Red Army in combat.
After viewing this station, we then transferred to Yellow Line 8 to Aviamotornaya, a modernist station dedicated to aviation and flying. Its ceiling is composed of small anodised gold pyramids and at the of the platform is a metal sculpture depicting Icarus. As this station was so elaborate we assumed (wrongly) that it would be equally beautiful above ground. After mounting the lengthy escalator we actually found nothing of note outside the station so took the escalator back down to the platform level.
We then backtracked to Marksistskaya station which we exited and called into an antiquated Soviet style shopping mall for a coffee. Continuing our tour of the Moscow metro we took Line 5 to Taganskaya interchange station which had some exquisite motifs on its walls.
Finally, we caught a train to Komsomolskaya, a station we’d visited earlier in the holiday and one of my favourites with its painted yellow ceilings. This station is one of the busiest on the network as it connects three main line stations.
After reminding ourselves how beautiful this station really was, we ventured above ground to explore the busy square. The Leningradsky Station looked stunning from its exterior but didn’t quite live up to expectations internally as it had been stripped of its original features to meet the needs of the modern traveller.
This imposing railway station, the oldest in Moscow and the Stalinist skyscraper of the Hotel Leningradskaya dominate Komsomolskaya Square, which is one of the busiest road junctions in the capital.
For a change, we decided to catch a tram back to our hotel which conveniently had a stop directly outside the entrance to our hotel in Sokolniki.
A welcome rest and a cup of tea followed before heading back to the cosy pub across the road where we’d dined earlier in the week. Different staff were on duty but they were equally helpful and friendly and my pork ribs with roast vegetables was perfect for a cold wintry evening.
Leaving the warmth of the pub, we put on our hats and scarves and wandered back across the road to the metro station to take a train to Lubyanka. Leaving the station, we strolled along the pedestrianised street beneath the enchanting festive lights towards Red Square.
After sauntering around the ice rink and Christmas market one last time we completed a loop by walking back to Lubyanka taking a route past the historic Bolshoi Theatre.
Back in Sokolniki we called in the supermarket across the road from our hotel and stocked up on some Russian chocolate to take home with us before returning to the hotel for the night.
It was difficult to believe that our holiday was nearing its end but thankfully we still had a few hours remaining the next day to enjoy life in the city.
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