First-time visitors to Moscow are amazed by the efficiency of the subway, but it’s the aesthetics they talk about. Many of the 172 stations feature museum-quality murals and statues of Communist workers and pea­sants. The eight million people traveling the rails every day can be a drawback to more artful appreciation, so don’t descend at rush hour.

Komsomolskaya (on the Ring line) opened in 1952 and its glistening mosaics depicting great Russian military leaders are breathtaking.

Kievskaya (Ring line) is named after the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. Opened in 1954, it has festive wall murals that make it one of the grandest stations.

Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Dark Blue line), which opened in 1938, translates as "Square of the Revolution." It honors the Bolsheviks; on the platform are 76 bronze statues of armed persons by the artist M. Manizer.

Mayakovskaya (Green line) opened in 1938, and Stalin spoke here before the Communist elite as the Germans besieged the city. Its minimalist interior starkly contrasts with the more florid Soviet-propaganda stations of that era and the mosaic cartoons by Russian artist Alexander Deineka draw crowds.

Novokuznetskaya (Green line), which opened in 1943 even though World War II raged not far from Moscow, has shimmering ceiling mosaics portraying war­time industry and bas-reliefs of Red Army soldiers.