Seven Sisters (Moscow)

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Plan drawing of the Seven Sisters from 1939
Hotel Ukraina at night
The main building of Lomonosov University
Apartment building on Kudrinskaya Square

Seven Sisters is the name given to the seven skyscrapers in Moscow that were built by order of Stalin in socialist classicism (also: Stalinist confectioner style) . Sometimes they are also called Stalin's cathedrals or Stalin fingers ; In Russian, the term Stalin high-rise buildings ( Russian Сталинские высотки ) is the most common. They were built in the last years of Stalin's rule , from 1947 to 1957. The original decision was to build eight high-rise buildings, but only seven of them were built in Moscow. The eighth such building was "given" to Warsaw and built there as a Palace of Culture .


In the course of the 1930s Moscow, which in 1918 became the Russian (from 1922 Soviet ) capital again shortly after the October Revolution , experienced rapid population growth: From 1926 to 1936 its population rose from 2 million to over 3.6 million. This made extensive expansion measures in the city necessary, which were laid down in a general plan in 1935. Among other things, this envisaged the demolition of numerous old buildings in the historic city center and the erection of large, monumental houses along the main traffic axes that emanated from the central point of the city - the Kremlin . A certain number of particularly tall buildings were to be built in the most important squares of the city, which would dominate the other buildings architecturally.

The central role in this new architectural landscape of the capital was originally intended to be played by the Palace of the Soviets on the left bank of the Moscow River west of the Kremlin, a 415-meter-high skyscraper crowned by a towering Lenin statue . The design of a group of architects led by Boris Iofan was used as the basis for the realization of this building project . In 1934 construction began on the site of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior , which had been demolished for this purpose three years earlier. Due to the complexity of the building project, however, construction progressed very slowly, so that by the beginning of 1941 only the foundations of the future palace were ready. Due to the German-Soviet war that broke out soon afterwards , the work was completely stopped and originally should not be resumed until after the end of the war.

After the victory of the Soviet Union in World War II in 1945, however, the priorities of the city architects shifted to the detriment of this major project: Moscow had to be rebuilt after the damage suffered during the war, and an ensemble of monumental structures was to be erected that was reminiscent of the 1930s the often neglected traditions of the old Moscow architecture and at the same time underlined the role of the Soviet Union as a victorious power. For this purpose, in a new version of the general plan in 1947, it was decided to build eight skyscrapers, which were to be built in various important locations in the city and to shape the Moscow cityscape. Even head of state Josef Stalin , who was closely following all Moscow's city construction plans, no longer seemed interested in the construction of the Palace of the Soviets, but immediately spoke out in favor of building the eight skyscrapers. So it happened that in September 1947, during the celebrations for the 800th anniversary of the founding of Moscow, the foundation stone for the first Stalin skyscraper - the building of Lomonosov University - was laid, while the Palace of the Soviets was put back until it was finally rejected shortly after Stalin's death. The foundations that had already been built were used in the 1960s for the construction of the Moskva swimming pool on the same site that was demolished in the early 1990s. Today the Christ the Savior Cathedral, faithfully reconstructed between 1994 and 2000, stands there.

In the original construction plans for the eight high-rise buildings, however, these were not intended to replace the planned Palace of the Soviets, but rather to form a uniform ensemble around it, with the Palace of the Soviets playing the central role. Very representative locations were deliberately chosen for the eight skyscrapers: The building of Lomonosov University was built high on Sparrow Hills , one of the highest peaks in Moscow, which made the building visible from many other places in the city; Three skyscrapers were erected directly on the Gartenring , the street that in many places forms the border between the historic town center and the new town. The unrealized high-rise building in Zaryadye was to be in the immediate vicinity of the Kremlin and visually tower above it.

The construction of all seven high-rise buildings took a total of ten years: the first to be completed was the residential building on Kotelnitscheskaja embankment in 1952 and the Hotel Ukraine, the last of the seven buildings, was opened in 1957. The construction plans of some buildings were revised again during construction so that some architectural details were added or removed later; Furthermore, when construction began, the university tower was initially planned as a purely residential building. Sometimes Stalin himself intervened in the planning; so he insisted on providing the Foreign Office building with a spire, although it was originally designed without it.


The Moscow Stalin skyscrapers were a role model for the architecture of the 1950s in the Eastern Bloc countries of the time . The Palace of Culture in Warsaw, built between 1952 and 1955, was modeled on the Seven Sisters and in fact appears to be a copy of these buildings. It was designed by Lev Rudnew , who had previously also built the Lomonossow University skyscraper. In Riga , too, a Palace of Culture was built at the same time , which is now the seat of the Latvian Academy of Sciences . In Bucharest , the roughly 250 meter wide Casa Presei was built between 1952 and 1956 (location: 44 ° 28 ′ 51.4 ″  N , 26 ° 4 ′ 16.3 ″  E ) and in Prague , today's Crowne Plaza Hotel ( 50 ° 6 ′ 34.4 ″  N , 14 ° 23 ′ 36.7 ″  E ).

Similar high-rise buildings were also planned for some cities in the GDR , especially Magdeburg, Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden, but were not implemented here.

The skyscrapers that have recently been built in Moscow are also based in some cases on the architecture of the Seven Sisters. A prime example of this is the Triumph Palace (Russian Триумф Палас), completed in 2003, not far from the Leningradski Prospect artery. With a height of 264 meters and a central tower with a spire, it is considered a modern replica of the Stalinist high-rise buildings and houses exclusive residential units.

The buildings in detail

The location of the Seven Sisters (red) and the Palace of Triumph (blue) within Moscow

Central campus of Lomonosov University

Location: 55 ° 42 ′ 10.6 ″  N , 37 ° 31 ′ 52.4 ″  E

The central campus of Lomonossow University was built in 1948–1953 on the Sparrow Hills , somewhat away from the city center, and consists of the central tower with extensive side extensions. The complex was designed by Lev Rudnew and three other architects. At 235 meters and 36 floors, the central tower of the building is the tallest structure among the Seven Sisters. Today the faculties of geology, geography and the mechanical-mathematical faculty are housed there. The side wings, symmetrically arranged around the central tower, not only house university rooms, but also student dormitories and apartments for the teaching staff.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs building

Location: 55 ° 44 ′ 46 ″  N , 37 ° 35 ′ 5.5 ″  E

The skyscraper at the western end of the old Arbat Street, built between 1948 and 1953, is 172 meters high and has 27 floors. The total usable area is approx. 65,000 m², the total volume approx. 402,000 m³. It is the headquarters of the Russian Foreign Ministry ; before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Foreign Ministry of the USSR was located there. The front facade of the building faces the garden ring .

The original building had a spire with no spire. This was retrofitted by order of Stalin and had to be made of metal for structural reasons. Due to corrosion damage, a restoration began in September 2016.

Hotel Ukraine

Hotel Ukraine with Moscow river

Location: 55 ° 45 ′ 5.4 ″  N , 37 ° 33 ′ 57.9 ″  E

The 198-meter-high, 34-storey building, including the antenna, was built between 1953 and 1957 based on designs by Arkady Grigoryevich Mordvinov and Vyacheslav Konstantinovich Oltarschewski . The construction engineer Nina Abramovna Dychowitschnaja developed the construction . It is located directly north of the important Kutuzovsky Prospect artery , which turns into the M1 trunk road , and south of a Moscow embankment. While the main part of the building serves as a four-star hotel with 1,018 rooms, some of the side wings contain residential units. It was the tallest hotel in Europe for a long time until it was overtaken by the Gran Hotel Bali in Benidorm, Spain in 2001.

On April 28, 2010, after three years of renovation, modernization and redesign, it reopened as the Radisson Blu brand .

House on Kotelnicheskaya embankment

The apartment building on Kotelnicheskaya embankment

Location: 55 ° 44 ′ 49.4 ″  N , 37 ° 38 ′ 36.3 ″  E

The prestigious residential building on Kotelnitscheskaya embankment east of the historic Kitai-Gorod district , directly at the confluence of the Jausa River into the Moskva, was completed in 1952 based on a design by Dmitri Chechulin and Andrei Rostkowski and with the assistance of civil engineer LM Gochman. Lavrenti Beria , who also supervised the construction, had determined the construction site. Construction of the house, which closes the perspective from the Kremlin to the mouth of the Jausa, began in 1938 and continued from 1948 to 1952 after an interruption caused by the Second World War .

The steel frame building has 26 floors (32 together with the technical floors) and is 176 meters high. In this part of the complex there are 540 apartments, of which 336 are two-room, 173 three-room, 18 four-room and 13 one-room apartments. It is complemented by a complex of 9-storey side wings, which are arranged approximately in a star shape around the main part, with two front side wings extending exactly parallel to the courses of the Jausa and Moskva rivers. A special feature of this building is that one of the side wings was built by the same architects before the start of the Second World War - namely 1938–1940 - and was not integrated into the overall complex until a decade later.

The house is and was a purely residential building and, when it was completed and for a long time afterwards, was considered one of the most luxurious residential buildings in the former Soviet Union, with spacious multi-room apartments that not only had all of the technical innovations available at the time, but also an exclusive ambience, such as splendid ones Chandeliers, reliefs and sculptures as well as artistically painted ceilings. Accordingly, the privilege of living there belonged only to particularly deserving citizens, including many artists and scientists. There are a total of 700 apartments in the building complex, around half of which are in the central part; There are also shops, a post office, the Illusion cinema and the museum in honor of Galina Ulanowa , a well-known resident of the house.

Other famous personalities who live or have lived in the skyscraper on Kotelnicheskaya embankment include the writers Vasily Aksjonow and Konstantin Paustovsky , the painter Arkady Plastov , the poets Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Andrei Voznesensky and the singer Lyudmila Sykina .

House at the Red Gate

The house at the Red Gate, by Alexei Dushkin

Location: 55 ° 46 ′ 10.2 ″  N , 37 ° 38 ′ 58.4 ″  E

This house was completed in 1953, is 110 meters high and has 24 floors in the central part. The name comes from the former Red Gate , which was demolished in the early 1930s. During the Soviet era, the building housed the Soviet Ministry of Transport; today, the Moscow city construction company Transstroi , among others, resides there , and there are also apartments in the building. The eastern entrance vestibule of the Krasnye Vorota metro station , which was built parallel to the construction of the high-rise, is integrated into the ground floor of the house .

Hotel Leningradskaya

Hotel Leningradskaya

Location: 55 ° 46 ′ 26.8 ″  N , 37 ° 39 ′ 6.2 ″  E

Today's five-star Hotel Leningradskaya was built between 1949 and 1952. It is 132 meters high and has 17 floors. Thanks to its location in the immediate vicinity of Komsomolskaya Square , where three main train stations and two metro stations are next to each other, it is one of the most famous Moscow hotels. In 2006 it was taken over by the Hilton hotel chain and extensively renovated by 2009.

Residential building on Kudrinskaya Square

Location: 55 ° 45 ′ 33.1 ″  N , 37 ° 34 ′ 52 ″  E

Similar to the house on Kotelnicheskaya Embankment, the building on Kudrinskaya Square (formerly the Uprising Square ) on the west side of the Garden Ring is a purely residential building and was considered an extremely elegant residential address at the time. It was built in 1948–1954, the central part is 156 meters high and has 24 floors. In total, the building, including the side wings, contains over 450 apartments. One of the prominent residents of the house was the test pilot Mikhail Gromov . The building was designed by Mikhail Posochin with Ashot Mndoyantsch .

Skyscraper in Sarjadje (unrealized)

The “eighth sister” never built: Zaryadye high-rise

Location: 55 ° 45 ′ 4.8 ″  N , 37 ° 37 ′ 43.8 ″  E

The eighth Stalin high-rise was to be built in the immediate vicinity of Red Square on the left bank of the Moscow River. With 32 floors, the building, which the architect of the Kotelnicheskaya apartment building Dmitri Chechulin was involved in designing, was to be the tallest of the eight skyscrapers. At the end of the 1940s, the old Sarjadje district was completely demolished in preparation for construction and the foundations for the future high-rise were completed. It stayed that way, however, because after Stalin's death in 1953, construction plans for high-rise buildings were no longer pursued. In 1967 the foundations were used for the construction of the Hotel Rossija , which occupied the entire area in place of the former Zaryadye district and was demolished again in 2006. From 2013, the Zaryadye Park, which opened on September 9, 2017, was built on the site .

See also


  • Birk Engmann: Building for Eternity: Monumental architecture of the twentieth century and urban planning in Leipzig in the fifties. Sax-Verlag, Beucha 2006, ISBN 3-934544-81-9 .
  • Peter Noever (ed.): Tyranny of the beautiful: Architecture of the Stalin era. Prestel, New York 1994, ISBN 3-7913-1340-1 .
  • Aleksandr Vaskin, Julija Nazarenko: Architektura stalinskich vysotok Moskvy . Kompanija Sputnik +, Moscow 2006, ISBN 5-364-00100-8 .

Web links

Commons : Seven Sisters  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Planning for the eighth high-rise in Sarjadje near the Kremlin
  2. Norbert Koch-Klaucke: Stalin Plan East Berlin should become a Little Moscow , Berliner Kurier , January 22, 2018
  3. Altmarkt: Redefine the character of Dresden! , Kulturhochhaus design by Herbert Schneider (1953), accessed on January 23, 2017. Figure 2 , Figure 3 , Figure 4
  4. New Zaryadye Park in Moscow