VDNKh, which stands for Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva, or in English – The Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy – is an official area that was built to be an exhibition and amusement park. Having a long history behind its establishment, such as a number of delays during the process, changes to the statues’ designs, names and so forth, VDNKh is considered a must-visit place during your stay in Moscow.
Why do you need to visit this place?
To be honest, this was the first time I paid the VDNKh a visit even though I have been living here for more than 4 years. That’s not because I am a super-lazy ass, but because the location is quite a long way from my ‘palace’. Therefore, right after I came back from Indonesia, after I restarted my brain, I decided to discover places I hadn’t been to before.
Although the name is always associated with exhibitions (all kinds of exhibitions), VDNKh, which occupies more than 2 square kilometres, is divided into sections, pavilions, and museums (Russians love museums, which is why you will find museums almost everywhere in the city), and is used by Moskvich as tourists as a place of recreation.
If you go by monorail or trolleybus, you can stop right in front of the main gate. If you go to VDNKh by subway, it's about a 5-10 minute walk from the station. When you reach the place, you will find a huge entrance gate in the Propylaea style, along with a statue of a man and a woman holding a bunch of wheat on the top of it (Тракторист и колхозница; Tractor Driver and Kolkhoz Woman).
According to the official site of VDNKh, here are the pavilions:
No. 1 Central;
No. 2 Popular Education;
No. 6 Chemistry;
No. 8 Young Naturalists;
No. 13 Health;
No. 15 Radio Electronics and Communication (Povolzhye) since the 1960–1970s.
No. 30 Microbiology;
No. 31 Geology;
No. 32/34 Space and Engineering;
No. 44 Rabbit Breeding;
No. 58 Agriculture;
No. 59 Grain;
No. 62 Environment Protection;
No. 64 Optics;
No. 66 Culture;
No. 67 Karelia;
No. 71 Atomic Power; Green Theater; Main Entrance; Southern Entrance, facades of the Central alley were repaired; metal false facades that were covering the gables of the pavillions were removed.
There are also pavilions from CIS countries such as:
Pavilion No. 6 - Republic of Abkhazia;
Pavilion No. 11 - Republic of Kazakhstan;
Pavilion No. 14 - Republic of Azerbaijan;
Pavilion No. 18 - Republic of Belarus;
Pavilion No. 68 - Republic of Armenia.
When I was there, some of them were still under reconstruction so I couldn’t enter the buildings. Inside each building you will find many kinds of local products from the related country, from the clothes to food and candy.
Besides the museums and pavilions, VDNKh has two famous and stunning fountains. The first one, close to the main entrance, is the “Friendship of the People (Druzhba Narodov)” fountain and the second one is the “Stone Flower” fountain.
The “Friendship of the People (Druzhba Narodov)” Fountain
This fountain is the largest fountain in the area and was built according to the design of the architect and craftsman K.T. Topuridze, and the engineer V.I. Klyavin, along with a team of sculptors. The sculptures itself consists of 16 girls, covered with gold leaf, symbolizing the republics of the USSR before 1956. In the middle of the fountain you can find a statue of a flower in the plan view, which blends into the bowl-shaped sheaf of spikes and sunflowers.
The “Stone Flower” Fountain
Stone Flower was actually a fairy-tale film created by Alexander Ptushko, which was released right after the war in 1946, and was very popular. Later, in 1949, Sergei Prokofiev composed the ballet “Mistress of the Copper Mountain” (which was inspired by this fairy-tale) and was on stage for the first time in the Bolshoi Theatre.
Places to Eat
From all the places to eat available here, I recommend you try Ararat Restaurant, which is situated in the Armenian Pavilion, for a big lunch. They serve authentic local dishes with generous portions and very affordable prices.
If you just want a snack, Druzhba Cafe (Cafe Friendship) serves coffee, tea, and some pastries while you enjoy the fountains right in front of your seat.
Food stalls are available, but they mostly just sell cotton candy, apple or hazelnuts in caramel, and boiled corn or popcorn. If you don’t want to pay stupid money for a bottle of mineral water, don’t forget to bring your own water from home!
VDNKh in Winter
Every winter, under the bitter cold of Moscow, VDNKh transforms itself into the largest artificial ice rink, occupying around 20,510 square meters of its total area. I haven’t tried to ice skate here because I am 100% sure that it will be full of people and not pleasant at all for a beginner like me, even though they say that they have special area, located around the “Stone Flower” fountain, which dedicated for beginners. Also, they offer private training for 1000 rubles per person per hour.
You can easily buy tickets in advance on the official site.
How to get there
As it is a popular place, you can easily find VDNKh on the Moscow metro map. It is located on the northern part of the orange line, beside the Botanicheskiy Sad. If you want to use MCC, you can stop at Botanicheskiy Sad station then continue your journey by taking a subway to VDNKh (only 1 stop).
Tickets are not needed for general admission, just for certain museums and attractions such as the Space Museum and Historical Museum.
Open 24 hours a day (for park, not for the museum)!