Palaces for the Commons

Metro stations in St Petersburg have been described as underground palaces. Metro tour guide Anastasia Shchegoleva tell us why. Photo: Denise Kopyciok

Anastasia Shchegoleva is a 25-year-old tour guide from the Petersburg Free Tour team. For more than a year, she has been regularly escaping with tourists to St. Petersburg’s underground palaces. As a linguistic graduate she  uses her language expertise to show tourists the various sides of the city — including the underground.
“It’s a group tour. We meet and then we all go underground. Usually, it’s a small group,” she explains. “Which is good because sometimes it can be pretty crowded,” she smiles.

Source: Denise Kopyciok

However, it is never as crowded as in Moscow, she adds.

Together with her tour visitors, she is discovering the most beautiful metro stations in St. Petersburg. With a focus on the Red Line, the oldest metro line in the city, she first starts in Nevsky Prospekt and then travels to Avtovo before visiting Admiralteyskaya. Avtovo is one of her favourite stations.

I find it absolutely amazing that this is not just a functional thing where people use trains for transportation. It is also a masterpiece. It’s like a palace underground

Sixteen pillars at Avtovo are decorated with ornamental glass with many symbols from Soviet times — including the popular five-pointed star.

Standing in the middle of the platform, old with golden frames and shiny decoration, they appear to be in the wrong place:

My favourite moment is when the train is coming from the tunnel. It’s such an imbalance. You can see the chandeliers and decorations and the train at the same time. It’s like the train is pulling into a palace.

The only issue she has with her beloved metro system is that it closes too early.

Anastasia Shchegoleva says St. Petersburg residents may be desensitised to the splendour of the metro stations but if they look deeper, they might learn something new.
Source: Fann Sim

The Avtovo metro station was designed by Ye. A. Levinson and opened as the first stop of the first metro line on November 15, 1955. The word “Avtovo” has Finnish roots and means “wasteland”, because the area around today’s metro station was considered to be far away from everything back then — a literal wasteland. Avtovo is now known for its stunning architecture and considered to be the most beautiful metro station in the city.

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