Rub a bronze dog, prop up a skyscraper in Moscow City, sit on a poet’s lap or climb on top of a trolleybus: Afisha.Daily brings you a guide to Moscow’s landmarks and best sites for clichéd photos.
“You know what it is like. If you are in Pisa, you must get your photo taken as you pretend to hold up the Leaning Tower. In Verona, you’ve got to rub the right breast of the bronze statue of Juliet. In St. Petersburg, you take part in a strange ritual to bring you good luck: you need to find the 11-centimetre sculpture of Chizhik-Pyzhik (a small bird) installed near a bridge over the Fontanka River and toss a coin so that it lands on the tiny pedestal without falling into the water below.
In Agra, you must get photographed as if you’re trying to hold the Taj-Mahal between your fingers. As for Moscow, Russia’s capital is full of its own landmark monuments which have special traditions of their own.
Known as the tallest building in Europe, the Ostankino TV Tower provides countless photo ops and is open for excursions. The tower has a viewing platform where you can lie down and look at the ground below through a special window in the floor – pretty scary but fun. The rotating restaurant “Sedmoye Nebo” (“The Seventh Heaven”) located inside the tower at 340 metres above the ground level offers the diners a 360° panorama of Moscow.
Be careful though: TripAdvisor visitors warn that the strict security guards will not let you in without ID – or with a bottle of water.
In the Moscow City business district, you are supposed to get your photos taken as though you're pretending to prop up the mighty skyscrapers or to lean against them.
Moscow has several monuments to poet Mikhail Lermontov – the most famous one, however, was made by the Soviet-era sculptor Oleg Komov and is found in Muzeon Park. Both Muscovites and guests of Moscow like to sit on the statue's lap – possibly to show their intimate knowledge of his poetry.
The Rimskaya (literally “Roman”) metro station, designed in the mid-1990s by Lev Popov and Natalya Rasstegnyaeva in collaboration with Italian architects, has a number of unusual features, such as a fountain with statues of Romulus and Remus and a rather naturalistic image of the Capitoline Wolf. The original plan was to construct an underground station called “Moskovskaya” in Rome, but for reasons as yet unknown this project never materialized. The Rimskaya’s fountain (the only one operating inside a metro station in Moscow) is popular with doting parents, who take pictures of their little darlings sat next to one of the world-famous twins.
The Dostoyevskaya station, also built according to Popov and Rasstegnyaeva’s design, is well-known for its austere black-and-white interiors, gloomy panels with angels and suffering characters from Dostoyevsky’s books and a huge, weirdly-proportioned bust of the writer. The design of the station (somewhat reminiscent of Mauritius Escher’s mathematically-inspired pictures) sparked a lot of controversy as it was feared that the oppressive ambience might spark an spate of suicides. Today, however, the bizarre interiors are found on social media accounts of the most emotionally stable Muscovites and visitors to Russia’s capital.
One must-do item on your Moscow sightseeing agenda is to take a picture of the Bolshoy theatre’s façade and a 100 rouble banknote with an image of the same iconic building. Following the 2005–2011 refurbishment and reconstruction, the two Bolshoys now look slightly different, since the image of Apollo on the banknote does not have a fig leaf covering his modesty.
The statue of a border-guard with his dog at the Ploshchad Revolutsii metro station is one of Moscow’s most famous lucky spots. Muscovites believe that your day will go well if you rub the dog’s nose. Alternatively, you can touch the figure of a rooster or the pistol held by a bronze revolutionary sailor which can be found at the same station. The pistol looks much less patinated compared to the other sculptures as it has been stolen and replaced several times.
The collection of bright-coloured cans is among the most recognizable attractions of Flacon Design Plant, a hip art and design cluster which is set on the former premises of the Kalinin Chrystal Factory. The cans look like a cross between gymnastic apparatus and a platform game, inspiring many of the cluster’s visitors to climb them in order to pose for a photo. However, the feature actually serves for advertising purposes: each of the cans is imprinted with the name of a shop operating on the territory of Flacon and has a line painted underneath it which marks the way to the shop. The unusual artefact is made from cans of machine oil, which were cut in half, painted and fastened to the wall.
However, Flacon’s biggest hit is an art installation with the back of a trolleybus sticking out of the wall; the work is ascribed to the street artist nicknamed Glockie and is a nod to the Moscow Trolleybus Plant located nearby.
You can also strike a selfie pose in front of Vincent and Jules – a debut stencil by Zoom, aka the Russian Banksy (check out on our interview with the artist here).
The author of the motto “Street Art Without Vandalism” and owner of an online shop selling his own prints, Zoom creates his graffiti illegally, like most old-school street artists. His only work to be painted on commission is an enormous mural representing the Russian writer and GULAG survivor Varlam Shalamov. (The graffiti was the first in a project by the GULAG History Museum to honour the memory of those who suffered in Soviet labour camps.) Most of Zoom's work can be found in the area between the historical quarter of Zamoskvorechye and Lyusinovskaya Street, including his ironic stencil with Jason Voorhees from the “Friday the Thirteenth” series dressed up as a Moscow council worker. Photos in front of the graffiti have become one of Moscow’s most recent traditions.