© istock/uskarp
© istock/uskarp

Moskovsky Rail Terminal: the gate to Saint Petersburg

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Probably in every city, there is a place which tends to be the one everybody sees upon their arrival. Talking about Saint Petersburg, it is most likely Moskovsky Rail Terminal, named after Moscow for sure, which serves as a connection between the northern capital and the main city in Russia. It is not a coincidence that this station has been called ‘Glavny’  (‘the main one’ in Russian). Being the gate to Saint Petersburg, it stands on Nevsky Avenue, the city’s main artery, which makes it closer to all the important viewpoints.

Early beginnings

© istock/uskarp
© istock/uskarp

In 1842, emperor Nicholas I of Russia ordered establishing the railway connection between the two most important Russian cities - Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The curious thing is that the railway stations in both cities were built at the same time and for some period were namesakes as well. Thus, each of them was called ‘Nikolaevksy’, and later ‘Oktyabrsky’ railway station. Moreover, both of them were designed by the architect Konstantin Thon.

This project included quite an eclectic appearance of the terminal. Its façade had a clock tower as an indicator for the location of the main entrance and the Venetian windows on the first floor. Inside, on this floor initially were vestibules, waiting halls, and the emperor’s suite. On the second floor, railroad employees lived.

The development of the rail terminal 

© Wikimedia/George Shuklin
© Wikimedia/George Shuklin

August 19, 1851, became the day when emperor Nicholas I of Russia and his family took the train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow. It took them 19 hours, with all the stops on their way. Some days before, this route had been tested with transferring troops southward from Saint Petersburg. Nevertheless, the official opening of the railroad route between two cities was conducted in November that year. It became extremely popular among customers then, and soon it became evident that Nikolaevsky Rail Terminal needed some improvements.

Starting from 1868, the rail terminal in Saint Petersburg began to grow. At the beginning of the 20th century, with new technical possibilities available, it was planned to construct the whole new building. Nevertheless, as the ensemble of the square which this rail terminal is facing today (it is called ‘Vosstaniya Square’, literally ‘Uprising Square’) was totally formed, it was decided to build the annexes from the side of railways themselves. As World War I began, all the works had been suspended, and the initial edifice was not demolished. In 1930, the name of rail terminal was changed from Oktyabrsky (they started calling it so after the revolution) to Moskovsky.

Moskovsky Rail Terminal through time

In the second half of the 20th century, Moskovsky Rail Terminal underwent an expansion and interior restoration. Gradually, innovations took over the old station, and now, everybody who visits Saint Petersburg, and starting with this terminal, sees a spacy hall with many points of sale, eateries, and the bust of emperor Peter the Great. Actually, Sapsan express train connecting Saint Petersburg to Moscow arrives at Moskovsky Rail Terminal.   

Today, Moskovsky Rail Terminal is the gate to Saint Petersburg, a well-known transport hub in the city center and a perfect starting point for the journey. Busy Nevsky Avenue, intersecting with Ligovsky Avenue, Vosstaniya Square with its Hero-City Obelisk of Leningrad in its center, make you want to see much more. When you are there for the first time, you will certainly have this feeling to join the flow and start exploring Saint Petersburg right away. 

Moskovsky Rail Terminal, Saint Petersburg
Moskovsky Rail Terminal, Saint Petersburg
Moscow Station, Nevsky Ave, 85, Sankt-Peterburg, Leningrad Oblast, Russia, 191036

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The author

Maria Selezneva

Maria Selezneva

Hi, I am Maria, or Masha, as Russian speaking people call me. I’m your local guide for must-sees as well as off-the-beaten-track places in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I’ll show you my favourite destinations in both cities, where you can feel the true spirit of local traditions.

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