Russia Travel Blog | All about Russia in English



Moscow Palace of Soviets – Soviet architectural giant

Moscow Palace of Soviets is one of the most famous unfinished architectural projects in history. The huge (the biggest and tallest in the world) building would have become the symbol of the victory of socialism, the symbol of a new country and new Moscow. This project is still amazing in our day.

Moscow Palace of Soviets 1

Moscow Palace of Soviets 2

The idea of building the Palace of Soviets was proposed by Sergei Kirov at the First Congress of Soviets, December 30, 1922 (also this Congress announced the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The idea found the widest support among the delegates.

Moscow Palace of Soviets 3

Moscow Palace of Soviets 4

Moscow Palace of Soviets 5

But the realization of the idea began almost ten years later when in June 18, 1931 in the newspaper “Izvestia” open competition to design the Palace of Soviets was declared. In the same year, December 5, the symbol of old Russia – Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior was blown to clear the place for the new symbol of the Soviet Union. The cathedral was visible from almost anywhere in Moscow in early thirties. New architectural symbol was supposed to be visible from any place in Moscow.

Moscow Palace of Soviets 6

Moscow Palace of Soviets 7

Moscow Palace of Soviets 8

As a result, five groups of architects became the finalists of the contest. The group of Boris Mikhailovich Iofan won the contest. The project of Iofan did not immediately take the form familiar to all lovers of architecture of the Stalin era. The first sketch in 1931 was as follows:

Moscow Palace of Soviets 9

And this is not a sketch but a more detailed version of the project of Iofan also dated 1931

Moscow Palace of Soviets 10

In 1932, the Palace of Soviets became a little more like the final draft

Moscow Palace of Soviets 11

Almost the final version, dated 1933, but still without Lenin but with the liberated proletariat on the roof

Moscow Palace of Soviets 12

The project taking more familiar form

Moscow Palace of Soviets 13

And finally the version approved in 1939

Moscow Palace of Soviets 14

The 316-meter palace was to be crowned by the 100-meter statue of Lenin. The total area of the building was to be 11 hectares, and weight – one and a half million tons. Before the World War II the base of high-altitude part of the Palace was built, the construction of steel frame started. After June 22, 1941 concrete, granite, steel and other construction materials were required for completely different purposes.

After the war several skyscrapers of less size were built in Moscow. The foundation of the Palace was used during the construction of the world’s largest swimming pool. And in the nineties the Cathedral of Christ the Savior demolished in December 1931 was restored on the same foundation.

And what would it be a great view if this building was built after all!

Moscow Palace of Soviets 15

Moscow Palace of Soviets 16

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.





  • Maria Margherita Innocenti · March 20, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Very interesting article! I would love to use some of the images for an academic publication (in particular Moscow Palace of Soviets 2 and 3). Would it be possible to know the sources of those images?
    Thank you very much.


    • Author comment by Sergei Rzhevsky · March 20, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      Yes, you can use these photos, won’t mind if you mention our site as the source, although it is not required.


  • Maria Margherita Innocenti · March 25, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    Hi Sergei, thank you for your reply. And do you know if the images are under copyright? And, if yes, who holds the copyright?
    Thank you.


Leave a Reply