Reportedly, after the war, Stalin was going to say the following words: ” we won the war… foreigners will come to Moscow, go for a walk, and there’re no skyscrapers.” I don’t know if this quote is true, but the fact is that just after WWII, USSR set the wheels of great rebuilding machine in the motion, including the realisation of the great Stalin’s vision – project called Seven Sisters. Seven Sisters are in fact seven skyscrapers which were designed to be higher, prettier and more modern than these in the United States during that time.
However, the name of seven sisters is not popular in Moscow, Muscovites have their own term, they call them ” Stalin’s skyscrapers”.
The architecture of these buildings is simple as a socialist ideology. They’re characterised by monumentalism, symmetry and mandatory the Soviet star at the top. This style was meant to express not so much “elegance” as the power and strength of the working people! In short – modern Soviet design 😉
How do sisters look like nowadays? You don’t need to visit Moscow, just a trip to the centre of Warsaw will do the trick, however it’s worth reaching the source of this ” architectural mainstream”
Moscow University Building
Moscow University Building was built in 1953. It’s 240 meter high which makes it the highest of the seven sisters. It’s said that it was the highest skyscraper in Europe until the 90’s. It was designed by the same architect, who designed the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The University of Moscow lies at the top of the Sparrow Hills, form which you can admire panorama the city.
Ukraine Hotel and Leningrad Hotel
In the competition for the most beautiful surroundings the winner is the former Ukraine Hotel (206 meters) built in 1957, located right on the banks of the Moscow river. Until the mid-70’s it was the highest hotel in the world. The 5-star luxury Radisson hotel is now located here. A slightly different look has the lowest of the sisters – former Leningrad hotel (136 meters), now Hilton. Its architecture was inspired by the American skyscrapers like Tower Terminal in Cleveland.
If someone likes “Stalin design”, it’s always possible to move into Kotelnicheskaya building. It was presented many times in the Moscow films, and it was once occupied by many cinema and theatre stars.
It’s a 32-storey condo reaching 176 meters, on the Kotelnicheskaya embankment. The building has about 700 -800 apartments, there’re also: post office, shops, restaurants and even the cinema. From the higher storeys you can admire the beautiful view of Moscow and the estuary of the nearby river. Anyone interested? 😉
Building on Kudrinskaya
Just a little further from the centre of Moscow, there’s a second residential block of flats, reaching 160 meters. It’s occupied mainly by state officials.
Red Gate building
The two last sisters are government buildings. The first skyscraper is the seat of the Ministry of Agriculture. It’s 133 meters high and located on the Red Gate Square. It’s a little bit crooked, due to the unstable ground on which it was built.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The last skyscraper is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, built in 1952 r. and reaching 172 meters. It can be recognised by the characteristic Soviet Union emblem on the facade.
The plans were to build the 8th sister, which was supposed to be one of the tallest buildings in the world. Although the project of this building was done, it has never been built. The main reason was that such a huge construction would dominate the Kremlin. However, the project was used to build the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.
Warsaw Palace is basically the continuation of the great Stalin’s vision and the “gift of Soviet nations to Polish people”. However, such gifts were lavishly given in other former USSR countries for instance: The House of the Free Press in Bucharest, Družba Hotel in Prague, or the Palace of Culture and Science in Riga, which I visited a few years ago.