It may seem niche, and not in a good way, to insert the words “spend at least a day visiting the train stations” into a conversation based on travel tips, but anyone who does start gushing about the architecture of public transport will, no doubt, be talking about Moscow.
Monty Python’s characters may have wondered what the Romans every did for them, but Muscovites know for sure that, along with total terror, bloodshed and a suppression, Stalin sure knew how to make the trains run.
And not only did he get the Metro going, his oppressively Soviet Government’s determination to show the World that Red was Right created what is, to this very day, an iconic benchmark of distinctive style blended with utmost substance and functionality.
11 kilometres of underground track were opened in 1935, each station with a theme representing the best of what the proletariat had to offer, and what they needed to live up to. Statues, lighting themes, grand staircases, hidden doorways, carvings, iconography, subliminal and not at all subtle socialist motherland messaging, all of it went into every single inch of every single property.
The World may have been in the grip of a devastating economic downturn, but nothing was going to stop Stalin and his vision. Marble and steel by the mountain-load were used. Engineers who had worked on the London Underground helped to flesh out the practicalities, artists by the 1000s were set to work.
These days, there are over 340 km of track and 44 listed historically and culturally significant stations which, if you get the chance, spend at least a day visiting. Maybe two.