Finding Stalin’s seven sisters

Still among some of the tallest buildings in Europe, Stalin’s skyscrapers were built post-war to represent a ‘New Moscow’ and to this day, dominate the capital’s skyline

 

During the 1940s and 1950s, seven high-rise buildings were erected in Moscow to symbolise ‘new Moscow’ after WWII.

Also known as the ‘Seven Sisters’, they are among the city’s best examples of Stalinist architecture, (a term given to Soviet architecture under Joseph Stalin’s leadership who was the General Secretary of the Communist Party).

Massive columns, luxurious interiors and sculptured décor were all designed to showcase the country’s wealth and might.

At the time of construction, they were the tallest buildings in Europe and Moscow State University was the tallest building in the EU until 1997.

Representing the hardship the city overcame and peace after the wars, these giant buildings are still to this day imposing and opulent.

Seven Sisters in Moscow

Below is a list of the seven mega structures. The tallest building stands at 240 meters (Mosco State University) and the smallest reaches 133 meters (Red Gates Administrative Building).

  • Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments.
  • Hotel Ukraina.
  • Moscow State University (main building).
  • Red Gates Administrative Building.
  • Kudrinskaya Square Building.
  • Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs (main building).

There were two more skyscrapers in the same style planned – Zaryadye Administrative Building and the Palace of the Soviets – but these were never constructed.

Where to find them

Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Apartments

Location: 1/15 Kotelnicheskaya Embankment, Tagansky District

Metro station: Kitai-Gorod

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Containing 700 apartments, this building was completed in 1952 and contains 32 levels. Originally built with wet stucco wall finishes, it was re-finished in terra cotta panels in line with the main tower. It showcases pseudo-Gothic crowns over its central tower and 12-story raised corners.

Hotel Ukraina

Location: Block 1 and 2 Kutuzovsky Avenue

Metro station: Kievskaya

This 34-storey building contains sumptuous interiors and guest rooms and when it was first opened in 1957, it was recognised at the largest hotel in Europe. For many years it was dubbed as “Moscow home” for guests from all around the globe.

Moscow State University

Location: 1, Leninskie Gory

Metro station: Vorob’yovy Gory and Prospekt Vernadskogo

Consisting of a spired central tower and four wings, the university building displayed the Soviet government’s keenness on education and science. The building is topped with a tall glass-clad spire crowned by a five-pointed star. The main building towers over the Moskva River.

The university was partially built by Gulag prisoners and German POWs, with some 14,290 workers at the peak of construction. Standing at 240 meters tall, the building is the largest of the ‘Seven Sisters’.

Red Gates Administrative Building

Location: 21, Sadovaya-Spasskaya Street

Metro station: Krasnie Vorota

Standing at 133 meters, the smallest of the ‘Seven Sisters’, the building contains 24 levels and was completed in 1953, housing administrative offices and apartments. Its right wing houses one of the two vestibules of the Metro station Krasniye Vorota.

The building was constructed with its frame tilted to one side to compensate for the frozen soil below, hence why it tilts slightly.

Kudrinskaya Square Building

Location: 1, Kudrinskaya Square

Metro station: Krasnopresnenskaya

Overlooking the garden ring (Sadovoye Koltso), this skyscraper was completed in 1954 after Stalin’s death. The building is in the capital’s centre and has 450 apartments over 25 floors. In total, the building is 160 meters high.

Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya Hotel

Location: 21/40 Kalanchevskaya Street

Metro station: Leningradsky Train Station

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Located near the city’s stadium and circus, this grand venue comprises 273 rooms, with 18-stories decorated in an original style.

This structure is situated at the eastern end of Komsomolskaya Ploshchad, the large square on which stand Leningrad, Kazan, and Yaroslavl Railway Stations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (main building).

Location: 32/34, Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square

Metro station: Smolenskaya

Emblazing a huge national emblem of the Soviet Union that measures 144 square meters, this building contains 27 stories, though the drafts went up to 40.

Adding spires on later, this high-rise was completed in 1953.

 


 

If these aren’t enough to fill your USSR-knowledge appetite, there are siblings to the Seven Sisters situated throughout Eastern Europe…

Kiev

Hotel Ukraine

Location: Instytuts’ka 4

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Called Hotel Moskva until Ukrainian independence in 1991, this building has great views over Independence Square.

Warsaw

Palace of Culture and Science

Location: plac Defilad 1, 00-901

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Standing at 237 metres, this sky rise is the largest in Poland and the sixth tallest building in Europe.

Visible from almost every part of the capital, the structure was opened in 1955 on the initiative of Joseph Stalin as a “gift of the Soviet people for the Poles”.

Built by Russian workers, it was considered to be a symbol of socialist power and the pride of People’s Poland – it was where conventions of the Polish United Workers’ Party took place.

Bucharest

Casa Presei Libere

Location: 1, Piaţa Presei Libere

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Formerly called Casa Scânteii, the House of the Free Press is one of the landmarks of Bucharest reminiscent of the communist regime. Once serving as headquarters of the party’s publication, the building was completed in 1956.

The steel structure in front of the building called Aripi is a monument to Romanians who fought against and died during the communist regime.

Riga

Latvian Academy of Sciences

Location: Akadēmijas laukums 1, Rīga, LV-1050

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Considered to be the first high-rise in Latvia, this 107-metre building has been prominent fixture of the Riga cityscape since the 1950s.

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With 766 rooms on the 23 floors, Riga residents used to call this building ‘Stalin’s birthday cake’, ‘Stalin’s tooth’ and ‘Kremlin’.

 

Checking out C & J.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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