Moscowsky Station, St. Petersburg

Moscow railway stationThe first Russian mainline railway, St. Petersburg - Moscow, had 34 stations and two terminal stations. The two terminals - Moscow Station in St. Petersburg and Petersburg Station in Moscow - were built according to plans by the famous architect Konstantin Ton, who had already designed Catherine's Church on the Obvodny Canal in St. Petersburg, the Bolshoi Kremlin Palace complex and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.

The Department of Railways proposed a preliminary construction plan to the architect, and Ton duly began working on the project in 1843. Ton envisaged building the stations according to a single design. As a result, in both capitals identical two-storey buildings in the Renaissance style were erected which featured round decorative columns, tall Venetian windows and a classical clock tower in the centre.

Ton chose a site on Znamenskaya Square for the construction of Moscowsky railway station in St. Petersburg. His choice was approved immediately. Firstly, it was convenient that passengers arriving by train could disembark right in the city centre, and secondly, the station harmonises very organically with the St. Petersburg's classical architectural appearance.

The station in St. Petersburg was built for the opening of the railway in 1851, somewhat later than its identical twin in Moscow, which had been completed in 1849.

At the station, citizens were required to present to special officials written passenger forms stating "the title of their assignments with a proper police certificate", i.e. their passport.

Moscow railway stationThose travelling to country estates and country houses, peasants with products for sale, serfs with their masters and children were exempt from presenting any written forms. Officials examining the submitted documents recorded the information in a special book and stamped the document confirming that "there were no hindrances to departing by train." Armed with this stamp, passengers could then proceed to the cashier to buy tickets.

Behaviour at the station was strictly regulated. For example, §56 "Travel Regulations" read that "The time passengers shall leave the passenger hall is determined by a special bell at the station". §57 warned that "Before the bell, none of the passengers may be on the gallery (platform) from which trains depart."

There was also an inviolable rule at the ticket office: "The distribution of tickets begins one hour and ends 10 minutes before train departure, after which no person for any reason whatsoever shall be entitled to receive tickets."

Similarly stringent passport restrictions and other regulations existed on the railway before autumn 1857, when the new Tsar, Alexander II, rescinded them.

Moscowsky Station in St. Petersburg has been repeatedly expanded and rebuilt, but the building's facade has remained unchanged.