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World’s deepest metro station

World’s deepest metro station
 
   
   
   
   
 
 

MY FINAL morning in Ukraine dawned overcast, with rain threatening, I needed to do as much exploring as possible before the rain sets in. Staying in a run-down hotel on the derelict Independence Square, I left in the early morning heading up the hill behind the square following one of the very narrow paved roads towards St Sophia’s Square about two blocks away.

St Sophia's

St Sophia's

The paved square was surrounded by large Soviet style government buildings with a church at either end.

Bohdan Mhmelnytsky Monument

Bohdan Mhmelnytsky Monument

The church to the left had a towering white tower holding up a gold-plated dome. Several smaller gold and green copper domes towered to lesser heights around the complex. This was St Sophia’s Cathedral, originally built in 1037 AD. It has been through a spectacular history falling into disrepair numerous times when various disasters occurred including the Mongolian invasion of 1240 AD.

Small totem

Small totem

Outside the church was the enormous stone with the Bohdan Mhmelnytsky Monument bronze statue of a horse and rider on it. It was built in Sophia Square in 1888, dedicated to the warrior leader of the Cossacks around 1650 creating the state that would later become Ukraine.

Building in square

Building in square

I headed towards the church at the other end of the square. I met a lovely lady from Canada exploring the city. We discovered a small silver coloured totem probably made from aluminium, a remnant of a time distant in history.

St Michael's Church

St Michael's Church

We approached St Michael's Church at the far end of the square. It was built in 1108 to 1113 AD, demolished by the Soviets in the 1930s and rebuilt in 1999. Priests in their black robes were entering. The church had a large belfry tower out the front with a large golden dome. Behind the dome to the right was the main cathedral with seven impressive golden domes of different heights, though none as high as the belfry. The buildings themselves were a sky blue colour with white highlights. To the left of the cathedral was the Kiev Orthodox Theological Academy.

Main entrance

Main entrance

We became separated outside the church as I entered the grounds and she headed back towards the square. Passing the main cathedral with its ornate bronze and gold statues I passed a pagoda and some interesting rock formations, and a chair with a squirrel on it. Exiting through a gate with a crow sitting on top of it, I headed into a park.

Crow on a cross

Crow on a cross

The park occupied the steep slope of the other side of the hill steeply dropping into the Dneiper River, draining from Chernobyl just 100 kilometres upstream. At one stage, the reactor was going to be built much closer to the city. This would have been catastrophic had the disaster happened here. Fortunately, Kiev had been spared with the plant being a hundred kilometres away and the wind blowing the radiation the opposite direction into Belarus and across Northern Europe.

Dneiper River

Dneiper River

The park was mostly tall forest of deciduous trees now losing their leaves with the autumn.

Building in the trees

Building in the trees

The park extended quite some distance straddling around the edge of the inner city above the river. Occasionally the path would pass some statues and monuments, and passing buildings.

Walkway through the forest

Walkway through the forest

One monument formed an enormous arch, almost a concrete rainbow without any colours. A small lift-sized statue of two men in victory stood underneath it. Aptly the main structure was called Rainbow Arch even if it was lacking in colour.

Rainbow Arch

Rainbow Arch

Heading up a set of concrete stairs I entered another park with a road going through it. This park had a large bronze frog statue (Monument of the Frog) before leading into several historic buildings.

The Frog

The Frog

Eventually the park ended crossing a bridge over a main road heading out of the inner city. It crossed over to another park with a lookout over the river and a bronze statue of an old film camera commemorating Ukraine’s film history.

Bridge over highway

Bridge over highway

The rain that had threatened all morning was beginning to fall. I followed a path away from the ridge reaching a large fountain where a large German shepherd dog was drinking from.

Fountain

Fountain

I continued through the spectacular trees before reaching a busy path around a road the Arsenalna Station, a rather plain looking train station. I headed inside to shelter from the rain. The rain was going to fall for quite a long time, most likely for the rest of the day at least. I won’t be doing much more exploring today. Then I decided it was time to explore Kiev’s metro system – I have already explored the metro systems in St Petersburg, Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang this trip, so thought why not explore one more. I bought a few metal chips which really looked like the Ukrainian coins, but worked them out.

Arsenalna Station

Arsenalna Station

I found the escalator which was turning precariously fast. I was initially a bit nervous about getting onto it, but with a brisk walk onto it I managed to get on in one piece. Then it began the descent 105 metres to the station below.

Escalator descending 105m

Escalator descending 105m

The very fast escalator took quite a long time to descend the 105.5 metres into the hill. This is said to be the deepest metro station in the world, or at least the greatest verified depth. Unofficially the stations on the Pyongyang Metro are 110 to 130 metres underground, but these are only unofficial estimates with the actual depth remaining a secret as is its legendary theories of being part of a massive underground nuclear bomb shelter.

Bottom of escalator

Bottom of escalator

The depth of this station was purely functional. A lot of people lived on top of this hill, and the level of the railway was more in line with the level of the rest of the city.

Platform at Arsenalna Station

Platform at Arsenalna Station

The station itself was very plain, with off-white tiling boring even by old tiled bathroom standards, hardly meeting the glamour of the Moscow, St Petersburg or Pyongyang metro systems. The only decoration were the maps of the metro system showing the stations (which didn’t mean much to me) and some advertising banners.

The train arrives

The train arrives

I caught one of the blue trains, not having any idea where I was going. Remember it was raining outside and still had all day to explore the city. So long as I can be back at the hotel before dark for an early night before my flights home tomorrow I’ll be happy.

Khreshchatyk Station

Khreshchatyk Station

I headed one station along the line to Khreshchatyk. This inner city station was a lot more elaborate with fancier earthy tiling and a large mural of a concert hall at one end, though still very plain compared to other main metro stations I have been in.

Station with chandeliers

Station with chandeliers

I then headed to another station with nice chandeliers under its arched roof. I headed up the escalator to a short flight of stairs and through an old building to an older part of the city I had not been to before. Just outside the station was the bronze statue of a large long-haired cat.

Bronze cat

Bronze cat

Nearby was a tree with an eye painted on it, perhaps a reminder of the old Soviet Union. Across the road was an interesting pink stone castle battlement and stained timber building all around it.

Statue

Statue

Rain was falling quite heavily, so I returned down into the metro and caught a train randomly heading back through the city probably passing Arsenalna again and continuing through the hill.

A station across the river

A station across the river

Suddenly the tunnel ended with the grey sky outside. Moments later the train was crossing a large steel bridge across the river. It reached an island with a station in the middle of it. I decided to get off here as the rain had eased off.

Park in the rain

Park in the rain

I spent the following half hour exploring a leafy park before returning to the station and catching a train back towards the city.

An inner city station

An inner city station

With moderate cold rain falling outside, I continued exploring the metro and different parts of the city throughout the afternoon along with a big rest at the hotel before heading back out to Independence Square in the late afternoon just as the rain was starting to clear.

Rainbow

Rainbow over the Independence

Monument

The setting sun began to show through the clouds, brilliantly illuminating the cover of cloud in the western sky. The weather was beginning to clear for the evening.

Sunset

Sunset

Upon arriving in Independence Square, I was just in time to see a spectacular rainbow over the independence monument against the purple clouds, allowing Kiev to leave an amazing final impression of this corner of the world far away from home.

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05 October 2016

 

Kiev

Ukraine

 

50°26'40"N
30°32'44"E
44m ASL

 

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Jeff

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