All-Russian Exhibition Centre, Moscow: Forgotten Soviet Disneyland

With all of the havoc currently underway in Ukraine, now seems like a good time to talk about the former Soviet Union and the region’s past.

I’ve always been fascinated by the USSR – I was born only two years after its collapse and all the members of my Czech family experienced what it felt like to live in the shadow of the Iron Curtain. Most people I spoke to had nothing but dismay for our eastern invader, but that made the Soviet Union – and Russia in particular – just seem that much more interesting. I was a little rebel in search of a cause and this one was as good as any, so when I was given the option to spend a year in Russia, I didn’t think twice about it. And here I am, so let’s explore the country’s tumultuous past together!

The All-Russian Exhibition Centre – also known as the VVC and, formerly, the VDNKh (Russians love their abbreviations) – is the perfect place to go if you want a melancholic reminder of how the grand ideals of the Soviet Union crumbled to pieces. In the midst of winter, giant statues cast shadows onto the cracking pavement, which is lined by empty fountains and buried under a thin layer of snow. The park is incredibly large and empty – all you can hear is the echo of your own footsteps and Russian music nostalgically crackling from old public address speakers. They hang down from wheat-shaped street lights, which are the only reminder of a prosperous past that never was.

General Information 

Entry: free
Open: 9 am – 8 pm

It is really easy to get to – just take the orange metro line to ВДНХ (VDNKh) and get out of the station! For more info, visit their website.