The Seven Sisters of Moscow

24 March, 2015

Сталинские высотки (Stalinskie Vysotki) raise massively, dominating Moscow skyline. Also known by the tourists as Seven Sisters they are one of the most popular examples of the legacy of the Stalinist era. They were built after World War II from 1947 to 1953. Stalin believed the Russian capital needed to be renovated to compete with the West. He was very concerned with the fact that if westerners visited Moscow, they would see the lack of skyscrapers in the Russian capital. So he decided to build the Soviet version of the American skyscrapers as symbol of the Soviet power, its national superiority and of a new era.

The Seven Sisters surround the city centre and are situated in keys areas of Moscow. The most famous is МГУ имени М. В. Ломоносова (Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU)); it’s also the highest and the biggest an it’s located on the edge of Sparrow Hills. Stalinskie Vysotki include also two government buildings Административно-жилое здание на площади Красных ворот (Red Gates Administrative Building) and Здание Министерства иностранных дел РФ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia main building) in Arbat district. Two hotels Гостиница «Украина» – “Рэдиссон Ройал, Москва” (Hotel Ukraina – Radisson Royal Hotel, Moskva), Гостиница Ленинградская (Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel) and two residential buildings Жилой дом на Котельнической набережной (Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building) and Жилой дом на Кудринской площади (Kudrinskaya Square Building).

The buildings project follow a common design: its trademarks are the so-called “wedding-cake” style, in which the focal point is the central tower. The architectural style is influenced by many trends from Renaissance and baroque to Russian church architecture and Gothic. Besides these common features each building differ in structure, architectural details and decorations. Since their majestic size they used different techniques to stabilize the building foundations and most of the construction work was carried out by thousands of prisoners from the Gulag and German prisoners of war.

The original project included a eight Sister, Административное здание в Зарядье (Zaryadye Administrative Building) that was never built. According to Stalin’s ambitious plan, an impressively huge building, Дворец Советов (Palace of Soviet), should have dominance over all the others as the ultimate symbol of Soviet power. The Храм Христа Спасителя (Cathedral of Christ the Savior) was torn down to make way for its construction that eventually never took place and so the church was rebuilt in 1994.

The impressive Stalinskie Vysotki are an outstanding and fascinating example of monuments of the Soviet era. Most people still argue if these building have to be considered “beauties or beasts” however they are part of Moscow and Russian history and the major representation of the vision and grandeur of that period.

Written by: Jessica Carrettiero

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

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