The Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
Looking to transport yourself back in time? The Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines (Музей советских игровых автоматов) has to be one of the most entertaining museums in St. Petersburg! It is less a museum than an actual arcade hall, complete with fully-functioning old game machines (well, almost all of them work – they are Soviet after all). Visiting the museum is a great way to experience a more light-hearted way of Soviet life!
The museum is located right in the centre, just over the canal from the Church of the Spilled Blood. Go through the iron gates into the courtyard and you’ll see the museum. The old-fashioned car parked outside confirms that you’ve arrived back in the ‘80s! Although the atmosphere is one of retro nostalgia, the layout of the museum gives it a modern edge.
Set out over two floors, it feels extremely spacious and you almost forget you’re in the centre of one of the most famous cities in the world. Entry to the museum is 450 roubles and that includes 15 coins which you’ll need to play the arcade machines. There is a nice little café on the ground floor serving drinks and snacks. There are also toilets and free Wi-Fi, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon!
Apart from the games, I really liked the old Soviet drink machines (автоматы газированной воды) – I’d always wanted to try them out! You need kopecks, and you can buy three from the reception for 50 roubles. I had some of the orange drink (апельсиновый сироп), which was kind of like warm, very sweet orange squash. I didn’t quite get a taste for it!
The Arcade Machines
In total, there are around 40 arcade machines from the 1970s and 80s. It is said that Khrushchev got the idea to introduce them to the USSR after seeing their popularity in the States. As well as Soviet versions of Western games, for example ‘Баскетбол’ (‘Basketball’) and ‘Пенальти’ (‘Penalty’), there are also uniquely Russian arcade machines. ‘Репка’ (‘The Giant Turnip’) is based on an old Russian fairy tale, and there are lots of military-themed games.
The Soviet arcade-machine business boomed and the USSR was producing more than 100 different types of games. Unfortunately, after the collapse of the Soviet Union production ground to a halt and many machines were forgotten about or sold for spare parts. Luckily however, the creators of the museum decided to restore these old machines so future generations could enjoy them. The first museum opened in Moscow in 2007 and proved so popular another was opened here in St. Petersburg.
My favourite game was ‘Торпедная Атака’ (‘Torpedo Attack’). Although the manoeuvring handle was quite stiff, I did pretty well at this game and there was something quite satisfying about seeing the little explosions through the periscope!
My least favourite was ‘Викторина’ (‘Viktorina Quiz’). In this game, you have to match the explanation of a road sign to its corresponding image. Needless to say, I was awful at it but it certainly felt very Soviet!
The museum is tonnes of fun and I would really recommend visiting if you want to see another side of Soviet life. The staff were very helpful at explaining the games and it was a great way to spend the afternoon! Please take a look at the Liden & Denz blog for inspiration on what to do in St. Petersburg!
Location: Konyushennaya Sq., 2 Bldg. V, St. Petersburg 191186, Russia
This post was brought to you by Tilly Hicklin, currently studying Russian at Liden and Denz, St. Petersburg.