Park Kultury (Koltsevaya Line)

Nikolai Galkin/TASS
The ring line of Moscow's Metro was built after the war, in the 1950s. Stalin's Empire thrived, and elegant engineering alone was no longer enough. The architects had to think of bas-reliefs, mosaics and other decorations. It was not enough for Metro stations to look impressive, they had to tell the story of an epoch, too. All this did not last too long, ending with Khrushchev's 1955 decree "On Eliminating Excesses in Design and Construction," which effectively outlawed all things beautiful in architecture and decoration. But nevertheless, many elegant building from that period still exist. Practically, all of Moscow's Koltsevaya (circle) Line was built in those years, of which Park Kultury is especially notable.

The architect, Igor Rozhin, placed the station on massive pylons, cutting them through with arches. The visual effect is that each vault rests on four columns. He decorated the inside of the arches with bas-reliefs by Saul Rabinovich, representing the pastimes of "cultured" Soviet people: chess, plane modelling, ballet, music, dancing, and football. The ceilings of the vaults are decorated with moulds, the floor is titled with marble, and the pillars are finished with gray lopota marble. Some critics argue that gray marble gives the station an "earthen" look, and the architect would have achieved better "airiness" with lighter colours. The station, which is on the proven cultural heritage list, is doubtlessly a remarkable late Stalin's Empire masterpiece: no longer a palace, but a museum, in which every detail deserves to be appreciated.