The childhood of every Muscovite has always been closely related to VDNH (pronounced as Veh-Deh-eN-Hah). Created as an exhibition complex to boast the achievements of Soviet economy, it was a favorite place to go for a leisurely walk and admire shining fountains and pavilions, built with Stalinist splendor. Now, VDNH is a park offering many interesting activities in addition to architectural wonders. This is a very big park and with several dozens pavilions, here is a list of the most significant things to see in VDNH.
Pavilion 23 houses an aquarium and a dolphin center, and if you have ever dreamed of becoming marine biologists, that’s the place for you. About 80 huge aquariums recreate ecosystems from all over the World Ocean and serve home to 12,000 marine and freshwater animals, including tiny coral inhabitants and three-meter sharks. Daily world-class dolphin shows present gorgeous beluga whales, playful dolphins and smart sea lions. How many times have you wondered if these curious animals only eat fish or enjoy something else, if they sleep in the water or on the shore, or perhaps if their fins have bones inside? It’s time to find out and have an amazing time!
The 1000 sq.m. rope course is set up in the VDNH sports cluster in front of the physical culture pavilion #27. The biggest one in Russia, it challenges people of all ages to climb up for a high rise adventure at the height of 15 meters. We bet it’s the only exercise that gives you true goose bumps and an adrenaline rush as you push your limits and face the fears with these thrilling high ropes course activities. Sky Town features various fun obstacles, viewing platforms and children parkour. Also, try to hit the GTO norms, a Soviet physical culture training program.
Buran space shuttle
The museum inside the reusable orbital ship Buran BTS-001 is located next to pavilion #20. Here, you can watch the film about the legendary rocket planes and control its landing at the Baikonur launch complex in real time mode. The interactive exhibition onboard the craft tells the story of the Soviet space program and compares the American Space Shuttle to its Soviet counterparts – projects 305-2, OC-120, DC-92 and Buran. It took 12 years for 2.5 million engineers, designers and scientists to design, build and launch the shuttle into outer space. You will visit the command module and see the simulation of Buran’s landing on November 15, 1988.
1941 Moscow battle panorama
In the historical park Russia is My History (pavilion #57) history lovers can plunge into the 3D panorama ‘Moscow. Forty One. Counterattack’ dedicated to the Battle of Moscow that took place between October 1941 and January 1942. This spectacular one-to-one exposition immerses visitors into the dramatic atmosphere of the largest WWII battle on Russian soil, with the combat action within arm’s reach and the sounds of the battle all around. As if frozen in time, the real heroes of war stand next to their weapons and equipment: the Soviet 76-mm divisional gun, German tank Pzkpfw III and self-propelled unit StuG III.
The beautiful old park, surrounding the 18th century Ostankino estate, has been recently transformed into a lavish recreational site that preserves the ponds and architectural monuments of the imperial past. After the bustling lanes and packed pavilions of VDNH, you can enjoy the greenery and the restfulness of a classic park. You can rent a boat to go for a row on the pond or take a riding lesson at the horse stables. There are also workout grounds and a skate park. Bikes are also welcome. Besides, the 540 metre tall Ostankino TV tower can be seen from almost any point.
Where to take the signature pictures
These two signature landmarks / works of art are true symbols of this area. The Soviet era masterpiece Worker and Kolkhoz Woman is a famous monumental sculpture created by sculptor Vera Mukhina in 1937. Standing high on a 34 m pedestal, the dynamic figures with a sickle and a hammer raised over their heads give a ravishing backdrop for photos against the blue sky or at night, when brightly lit. The Friendship of Nations Fountain with 16 golden ladies in traditional costumes around the sheaf of wheat is particularly picturesque in good weather. It would be wise to bring a portable charger because VDNH has a full day’s worth of photos it.
Where to eat
Eateries and coffee joints cluster around the food street near the Alley of Cosmonauts and the food court near pavilions #64 and #66. The food scene can suit any taste as it features plenty of cuisines. Along the food street, Cheshsko mesto offers traditional Eastern European dishes, Edim stoya treats to Israeli shawarmas and falafel balls, and Make my day brews tasty coffee and bakes crispy Belgian waffles. At the food court, Greek grill Gyros for Heroes sells killer chicken gyros, while Pho serves Vietnamese noodle soup and noodles with chicken, tofu or stewed beef, and for seafood you should head to Shrimp Box for the grilled shrimp with rice and vegetables.
If you’d like a more elegant, laid back lunch, get a table at Ottepel, a restaurant with history set in the refurbished silk industry pavilion 311. Ottepel is named after the 1960s ‘Thaw’ when Nikita Khrushchev was in power and censorship and repression in the USSR backed off. The décor is in every detail a romanticized reminder of that period. The restaurant offers high-end takes on Soviet-era classics vs. modern cuisine, like beef stroganoff with mashed potatoes (≈11$) vs. beef burger with fires (≈10$).