Moscow legends – The Metropol Hotel

Moscow is a large city with very rich history. Of course, after years of existence it can boast numerous landmarks and some of them are legendary hotels. One of the most famous and worth visting is of course the Metropol Hotel right across the Bolshoy theater. Here are some of facts that you deffinitely don’t know.

The Metropol was founded in late 19th century and was open for visitors in 1907. It is a unique example of the very popular back then Art Nouveau style, created by a collaboratiuon of architects – Wiliam Walcot, Lev Kukushev, Vladimir Shukhov – and the most renown artists – Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Golovin, Nikolai Andreev.

In 1898, Savva Mamontov (major entrepreneur of that time in Russia) and Petersburg Insurance consolidated a large lot of land around the former Chelyshev Hotel right next to the Bolshoi Theater. Mamontov intended to redevelop the area into a large cultural center built around an opera hall. In 1898, professional jury of an open contest awarded the job to Lev Kekushev, however, Mamontov intervened and assigned it to English architect William Walcot, who proposed a refined Art Nouveau draft codenamed A Lady’s Head (implying the female head ornament repeating in keystones over arched windows). Mamontov eventually hired Kekushev as a construction manager. Soon, Savva Mamontov was jailed for fraud and the project was taken over by Petersburg Insurance, omitting the original plans for opera hall.

In 1901, the topped-out shell burnt down and had to be rebuilt from scratch in reinforced concrete. Kekushev and Walcot hired a constellation of first-rate artists, notably Mikhail Vrubel for Princess of Dreams mosaic panel, Alexander Golovin for smaller ceramic panels and sculptor Nikolay Andreyev for plaster friezes. The hotel was completed in 1907. However, it is nowhere near Walcot’s original design. Still, it became a very bright example of Moscow Art Nouveau. The Metropol fancied 400 rooms and none of them were alike. They all featured such modern equipment as refrigerators, telephone lines and batrooms with hot water wich was all not very abudant in early 20th century Moscow. In 1906 the Metropol became home to the Modern Theater, one of the first cinemas in Moscow.

The Soviet Revolution developed right in the hallways of the hotel. In 1918, the hotel was nationalized by Bolshevik administration, renamed Second House of Soviets and housed living quarters and offices of growing Soviet bureaucracy. The Bolshevik party held regular meetings in the restaurant, and Lenin and Trotsky used to declare speeches from the stage that is now occupied by the piano man.

Eventually, in 1930s it was converted to its original hotel function, although a part of the hotel remained as an apartment house. The last occupants of apartments moved from the Metropol only in the 1960s.

The Metropol went through a major restoration in 1986-1991 and became a five star category hotel. But it has and always be a symbol of hype and posh all the time.

The Metropol Moscow on YouTube

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