In the post war Soviet Union, Stalin was looking for something to spruce up the relatively droll skyline of Moscow. According to Wikipedia, Khrushchev later recalled Stalin’s words, “We won the war … foreigners will come to Moscow, walk around, and there’s no skyscrapers. If they compare Moscow to capitalist cities, it’s a moral blow to us”
In an effort to avoid this moral affront, Stalin commissioned a series to modest towers between 1947 and 1956 to be constructed in various sites around central Moscow. All seven of the towers are still in use and still provide dramatic silhouettes in the Moscow skyline, despite the recent influx of modern towers.
I was keen to get out and capture some of the faded grandeur of these impressive gems. The brooding Moscow skies brought some dramatic lighting to highlight the monumental facades.
The Hotel Ukraina (below) is now the Radisson Royal Hotel. At the time of its completion in 1949, it was the tallest hotel in the world and remained that way until 1975
Kotelnicheskay Embankment Building was originally intended as an elite housing building but shortly after construction, the apartments were converted to accommodate multi-family tenants.
Kudrinskaya Square Building (below) was built predominantly for Soviet cultural leaders of the time. In the distance the tower of the Red Gates Administrative Building can be seen.
From a 2011 article in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Tino Kyunstel writes
“The architects tried to guess what would appeal to Stalin, who was said to be fond of the Gothic style. However, they didn’t always manage to please him: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building was originally designed without a spire, but the dictator insisted on having one. So a special lightweight spire, made in the same colour as the skyscraper, had to be perched on top with supports descending five floors.
After Stalin’s death in 1953, the architects asked the new First Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev, for permission to undo this Stalinist act of despotism. But Khrushchev refused, wanting the spire on the Ministry to remain as a “monument to Stalin’s stupidity”.”
Ministry for Foreign Affairs (below)
Red Gates Administrative Building (below)
Hotel Leningradskaya (below) is now a Hilton hotel.
Moscow State University (below), inaugurated in 1953, was the tallest of all the towers at 240 meters (787 feet). Incredibly, it was the tallest building Europe until 1990 and remains one of the tallest educational buildings in the world.