On March 14, 1954, the circle line of the Moscow underground was completed. Originally, all the existing lines were arranged in the form of the sun, spreading from the center and further away in all directions; the circle line bridged them all to provide easier access from one line to another by adding more change points.
The construction started in 1950 and was undertaken in three stages. Initially, when the underground was still on paper, there was no talk of laying the circle line, but once the second set of lines came into operation in 1938, the traffic overload at the transit stations became evident, and after the Second World War, the need for the circle line was finally admitted. As legend has it, when Joseph Stalin saw the map of Moscow with the underground amelioration plan, he gazed at it for a while, and then put his cup on the center of Moscow, leaving a coffee ring on the paper, and said: “Here’s the major flaw in your scheme. Fix it.” Since then, all maps have the circle line marked in brown.
The first suggestions of building an underground transportation system were voiced in the late 19th century, but authorities shrugged them off. Moreover, for some church elders, the idea was an outrage: to build an underground facility was akin to inviting oneself to hell. The project was finally approved in 1912, but was put on hold until 1927 because of the First World War.
Many stations of the Moscow underground, particularly the ones on the circle line, are works of art, fashioned in the Stalinist Imperial style. The gigantic sizes, intricate forms, and lavish adornments of the stations were meant to wow people and invoke faith in the Soviet Union’s grandeur and might.
For such a noble purpose, money was not an issue: stations were built using 20 types of marble and granite and decorated with mosaics, frescos, sculptures, and ceramics. The collection of works on display at every station is united by a single theme to coincide with the historical background of its location, turning the underground into a unique history museum and a popular tourist attraction. For that matter, some may also call it an attraction even for the Russian people.
The Moscow underground still bears secrets, which are very unlikely to ever be revealed. It is known that a second secret network exists, built in the Stalin era for security purposes. It connected facilities designed for the Soviet government and Stalin himself in case they had to relocate due to war or any other disaster. Some of the lines are said to even stretch outside Moscow. The construction work of this “Metro 2,” as it is called, is still in progress, but qualified as top secret, and only vague signs, such as ever-closed exits and never-used rails, suggest there is something beyond our knowledge. The underground also has a number of so-called ghost stations which were in construction but never opened or fell into disuse.
Today, the underground is growing and thriving. New stations are in development, and lines are being stretched further and further out into the Moscow region. Due to the overload of the circle line during rush hour, it has recently been decided to start work on a second circle line, about three stations wider than the existing one. With this measure, city authorities hope traffic will be divided between the two circles, making life a little easier for commuters.