Moscow's Metro Isn't a Post Apocalyptic Wasteland. It's Actually Quite Lovely.

For a generation of gamers, the words "Metro" and "Moscow" will conjure images of an oppressive, bleak place, a last refuge for humanity against the forces of mutants, darkness and whatever the hell else had been conjured up when we blew up the planet.

Which, I think, is a bit of a shame. Because in the real world, it's one of the coolest things on the planet.

While most city's public transport systems can be described as utilitarian at best (or shockingly decrepit if you're being honest), for some reason the Soviet Union decided in the 20th century that, while its people lived in some of the ugliest urban centres in human history, they'd be riding the subway in something straight out of a fairy tale.

The Moscow Metro, usually just called the Metro (hence the game's name), first opened in 1935 with a single line. It's now the world's second-biggest public transport system after Tokyo's frightening complex subway network, with 185 stations covering nearly 200 miles of track.

Much of it is a work of art. Beginning with Stalin, Russian leaders used the Metro as a drawing board for their vision of the future of the Soviet Union, as a statement piece. The key stations are barely train stations at all; with vast marble surfaces, intricate artwork and even enormous chandeliers, they look more like the ballroom of a castle than somewhere you use to get to work.

In Metro 2033, and its upcoming sequel Metro: Last Light, Metro stations are home to small settlements of human survivors, those lucky few who survived first a nuclear apocalypse and then years of starvation, sickness and relentless attack by all kinds of weird bad guys. Why? Because, as you saw in this amazing live-action clip released earlier in the year, when the bombs started falling, Metro stations were used as shelters.

Metro wasn't exactly the world's greatest shooter, but it won itself a legion of fans because of its atmosphere, which was laid on so thick you sometimes felt suffocated. Aiding that feeling was the depiction of the Metro itself. In many ways the fate of the world is reflected in the state of the Metro; once a thing of both beauty and function, it's now in ruins, kept alive by the thinnest threads of crumbling technology.

God, it's all so depressing, isn't it? Let's wash out that taste of despair with some amazing photos of the Metro as it actually stands today: a monument to people who thought it would be a great idea to make train stations look awesome.

Oh, and one last thing. If you think the regular Metro is cool, check out the fabled "Metro 2", a very believable rumour/myth/whatever that a second, deeper underground rail network exists in Moscow, just for use in case of a nuclear attack.

The photos below were taken by SebastianBerlin, -=Nikita=-, Vokabre, Jeremie R, b80399, jaime.silva, AJ Brustein and soleterranean


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