The city behind and beyond.
Moscow has recently become a vastly developing epicentre of science and culture. From dynamic art spaces to outdated stereotypes, an exquisite fashion community and thriving tech, the city of 12 million is going through some big changes.
Here’s a nerd guide to the city of cosmic contradictions and beauty.
I. Moscow’s Planetarium
When the Moscow Planetarium opened in 1929, it was considered the largest in the world. Its parabolic dome, a reinforced 26 meters high concrete shell construction, made the building one of the most famous works of the Soviet architectural avant-garde of the twenties. The large hall, whose ceiling reflected the starry sky, held around 1400 spectators and was, until its closure in 1991, one of the most popular attractions in Moscow. During the sixties, the planetarium also served as a training center for the first cosmonauts of the Soviet Union such as Yuri Gagarin, later the first man in space.*
Recently renovated, Moscow’s planetarium incorporates all sorts of high-tech gadgetry, interactive exhibits, and educational programs. On top of that, there’s also a more classical exhibition filled with artefacts and tools once used in space exploration.
2. Hotel Cosmos
The building of the Hotel Kosmos on the Prospekt Mira rises in the northeast of Moscow. The majestic 27-storey complex, built as a Soviet-French joint project in preparation for the 1980 Olympics, is in direct proximity to the some of the biggest achievements of the former Soviet Union. The flashing semicircle completes the building of the All-Russian Exhibition Center (WDNCh) to the East.** The view towards the Cosmonaut Museum is overwhelming. Inside the hotel there is even a vending machine with cosmonaut food.
3. Museum of Cosmonautics
A must-go for space nerds. Founded in the 60’s to celebrate the nation’s achievements in space exploration, the Museum of Cosmonautics gives a retrospect on how Soviet space science evolved during the past decades. Check out the museum’s cafe and try out real astronaut food!
4. The rocket VOSTOK on the exhibition grounds WDNCh
The pavilions of the exhibitions area are decorated with the Soviet republics, symbolizing their respective cultures. The pavilions of the individual economic sectors contain their attributes, from vine leaves to breeding bulls to space capsules. On the former site of a 35m high Stalin monument now rises, since 1966, a copy of “Vostok”, the rocket which brought in 1961 the first man into space.
5. Paleontological Museum
The foundation of the museum goes back to Tsar Peter I. On his travels through Holland, he attended the lectures of the anatomist Frederick Ruysch and acquired his spectacular collection of curiosities. A museum of palaeontology was first opened to visitors in Leningrad in 1925 and relocated to Moscow in 1937 under Stalin’s govern. In the seventies, a team of architects, engineers and artists began working on the design of a new home for the collection. Four differently rounded exterior columns on each side of the building give the monolithic facade a striking appearance. In the large courtyard you will find, imaginatively arranged, an amphitheater and a water basin with floating sculptures of Stone Age animals.***
The aquarium has become a living encyclopaedia of the World Ocean. It is now home to more than 600 species of exotic fish and unusual marine and freshwater inhabitants, over 12,000 specimens and individuals, including the caiman crocodile, nautilus, sturgeon, octopus, stingrays, sharks and many other marine creatures.
7. Garage Museum
Providing opportunities for dialogue, as well as the production of new work and ideas, the Museum’s extensive program of exhibitions, events, education, research, and publishing reflects current developments in Russian and international culture. Central to these activities is the Museum’s collection, which is the only public archive in the country related to the development of Russian contemporary art from the 1950s through to the present.
On June 12, 2015, the museum moved to its first permanent home in Gorky Park, the heart of Moscow. You should visit the free library dedicated to the history and theory of Russian and international contemporary art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Local party scene:
Located a street away from the posh Stoleshnikov lane, Enthusiast is a laid-back bar frequented by local fashionistas. This tiny place is decorated with Soviet-themed posters that were designed by the local artists specifically for the place. Go there on a Sunday evening for a movie screening or a live gig.
Pereulok Stoleshnikov, 7 стр.5, Moskva, Russia, 107031
Untitled is an establishment on Petrovka street that combines a nightclub, a bar and a non-commercial gallery. Frequented by a thriving creative community, this place is a must-go for weekly themed parties on Fridays.
Ulitsa Petrovka 15 p.1
Tucked away from the city centre in the Tagansky Distric, Dewar’s Powerhouse is one of the most popular partying spots in Moscow. Dewar’s Powerhouse is a gastro bar famous for its rich music program, ranging from jazz concerts to theatre shows and Resident Advisor techno parties.
Moscow, Goncharnaya ul. 7/4
Local designers inspired by Sovietic aesthetics
One of Russia’s first concept stores, KM 20 has been at the forefront of the country’s fashion movement for the past decade. Founder of the store, Olga Karput recalls, “we at KM20 always try to be ahead of our time, and the future is something that keeps us excited and motivated”. Visit KM20 for the industry’s latest garments and top-notch aesthetics.
Pereulok Stoleshnikov, 2
If you’re craving graphic hoodies with Cyrillic script, check out Sputnik 1985. Holistically representing Russian streetwear culture, this brand roots its inspirations in prison tattoos, Soviet boxers and TV shows.
Showroom at Pokrovka, 19
* p. 198 Börner, Jörn in Architectural Guide Moscow 2011, Berlin
** p. 306 Meuser, Philipp in Architectural Guide Moscow 2011, Berlin
*** p. 314 Meuser, Philipp in Architectural Guide Moscow 2011, Berlin