Stalin’s “Seven Sisters” are Moscow’s architectural gems and skyscrapers that are dispersed throughout the city. In 1947, when Moscow celebrated its 800th birthday, Stalin had the idea of the Seven Sisters to transform Moscow into a modern city. These iconic buildings represented his vision of a successful, socialist entity. Endorsed by the Soviet dictator himself, the architectural designs combined elaborate, Gothic and Russian Baroque styles.
You cannot miss seeing these overwhelming buildings that appear to tower over you. We’d like to guide you through this journey, whether you are on your own, or with a group, at your own time and pace.
1. Start at Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building
Begin your journey at Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, which resembles a wedding-cake from afar! The nearest metro station is Taganskaya on the brown line. This skyscraper is situated adjacent to Moskva River and Yauza River. Dmitri Chechvlin and Andrei Rostkovsky, under the tutelage of Stalin, designed this building and intended it to be a luxury residence for the Moscovite elite. But because private ownership of property was illegal during the Soviet era, the building turned communal spaces, like the kitchen and living rooms, into shared areas, or better known to Russians as ‘kommunalki.’ Today, this building is a multi-complex of apartments and offices.
Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building
Address: Moscow, Russia
2. Head north to the Red Gates Administrative Building
The next skyscraper you have to see is the Red Gates Administrative Building. It is the shortest of the Seven Sisters group, with a height of 133 meters (436 feet), and the nearest metro station, Krasni Vorota, is just two stops from Taganskaya metro station. If you look at the building closely, it is as if it is tilted to one side. When the building was being constructed, the soil was not settled. In effect, the building was not standing upright! Today, in this building resides apartments and offices.
Red Gates Administrative Building
Address: Sadovaya-Spasskaya ul., 19K1, Moskva, Russia
Standing at 136 meters (446 ft), is the renowned Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya, which only occupied the building in 2008. The nearest metro, Komsomolskaya, is one stop away from the previous station near the Red Gates Administrative Building.
The Leningradskaya building comprises 273 luxurious guest bedrooms. It was once featured at the Guinness Book of World Records for housing the world’s largest chandelier, which is now seen in the main lobby. The building also won a Stalin Prize for Design, thanks to the brainchild behind this design, Leonid Polyakov.
Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya
Address: Kalanchevskaya Street 21/40
Safety deposit box Staff follow all safety protocols as directed by local authorities 24-hour front desk Breakfast in the room Cashless payment available Bridal suite Process in place to check health of guests Fitness centre
4. Go south west to Moscow State University
Better known to the locals as ‘MGU,’ this building is the tallest and largest amongst the Seven Sisters, and is currently the tallest educational building in the world. With 15 research facilities and 39 faculties, it is considered the most reputable university in Russia. MGU is at the top of Sparrow Hills and its nearest metro station, Universitet, is twelve stops away from Komsomolskaya station.
MGU has one of the most interesting myths. The construction workers, who built this gigantic skyscraper, were either Gulag prisoners or German prisoners from the Second World War, and urban legends say that their ghosts continue to haunt the the 14th floor, where they used to stay. Today, most students are no longer disturbed by these legends. Out of all the Seven Sisters, MGU is by far the most impressive, as it comprises classrooms, student hall accommodations, a concert hall, a swimming pool and even retail shops.
Moscow State University
Address: ul. Leninskiye Gory, 1, Moskva, Russia
Once known as Hotel Ukraina, this building is the second largest of the Seven Sisters group. It is currently Radisson Royal Hotel. From the metro station, Universitet, you need to head north, transfer at the station, Park Kulturi, and then go west to the hotel’s nearest station, Kievskaya, which is only one stop away.
In 1957, Hotel Ukraina was claimed as the largest hotel in Europe. It boasted a large guest capacity of more than 1,500 people. Hotel Ukraina had a very unique fire-safety operation; in the event of a fire disaster, there was a built-in chute, which guests could safely slide down from the premises all the way to the ground floor. The chute could hold about 10 people. Nothing is certain on whether this chute still existed after the hotel management left in 2007. Today, it is occupied by Radisson Blu Group.
6. Walk south-east to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building
The next building, at the bustling Arbat Street, is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are two ways to get to this building. The first option is to walk from Radisson Royal hotel back to Kievskaya station, then turn left to cross the bridge and you will see the building ahead of you. The second is if you’re comfortable to use the subway again using a third line, or your legs are starting to hurt, take the train from Kievskaya station to Smolenskaya on the blue line, which is only one stop away.
The main characteristic of this building is its spire of the Soviet crest. Legend says that the spire was not actually in the original design, nor was it intended to be part of any of the Seven Sisters buildings. When Stalin passed away, the architect, M.A. Minkus, requested from Nikita Khrushchev, who succeeded Stalin, to remove it. But Khrushchev rejected this, and later claimed that although the spire was absurd, it was to be a symbol of Soviet legacy.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs building
Address: 32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square, Moscow, Russia
7. Head north to the last skyscraper of the trip, Kudrinskaya Square Building
The last building of the Seven Sisters is the Kudrinskaya Square Building. The nearest station is Barrikadnaya. You can either walk back to Kievskaya and take the train from there via the brown line, which is only a stop away, or take the train at Smolenskaya station after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and transfer to the brown line via Kievskaya.
Kudrinskaya Square Building was a series of shops and high-quality apartments for the Soviet cultural leaders. But when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the interiors gradually deteriorated. Today, the interiors are still being restored, and it houses restaurants and commercial retail stores.
Kudrinskaya Square Building
Address: Kudrinskaya Square Building, Moskva, Russia
Without having a good grasp of the metro map and system, it may be challenging for you and your group to go around Moscow to find these skyscrapers in one day. The alternative is to join Viator’s private tour of the Seven Sisters. The tour is in English, and you will be guided by a local, who knows all the fun facts of these high-rise buildings.
Stalin Skyscrapers in Moscow - Private Soviet Tour
Duration: 3 hours
A journey through Soviet legacy
Regardless of whether you decide to embark on this journey alone, with your group or Viator, you will be amazed by these Soviet wonders.
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