VDNH (ВДНХ) in Moscow (also spelled VDNKh) is one of my favorite parks in Moscow. It's beautiful to walk around, has amazing fountains, exhibitions, an aquarium, you gotta see it to believe it!
What is VDNH?
VDNH translates into the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy (of the USSR). It's like a Soviet time machine that has been preserved and restored. The park is huge, over 300 hectares, turning into Europe's largest skating rink in the winter. It's also a great example to Socialist Realism Art, and I'm glad they preserved and restored it. The buildings are very impressive, they don't build them like that anymore. It can take a few hours just to walk around and enjoy the restore Soviet buildings. Tens of thousands of people visit the park every day, with about 33 million visitors each year.
What Can You Do at VDNH?
VDNH is huge and there are so many things to do. Even if you only want to go for a walk to take in the sights, make sure you wear comfortable shoes! Even better, wear roller blades or ride a Segway, because there is a lot of ground to cover.
As a park, there are wide pathways to explore the whole park. I love the beautiful fountains and flowers, but don't walk on the grass! You can explore the old pavilions of the Soviet Union, see a replica of a space ship, visit an aquarium, eat at cafes and restaurants, go to a Cosmonauts museum, a theatre, bike rental, with many pavilions to visit. There is even a Russian history museum!
The city of Moscow has done a great job activating this public space, with families roller skating, playing ping pong, and even music concerts being held here. I think it's one of the best city parks in the world. This park is so big with so much to do, this post isn't giving it enough justice.
Beautiful Fountains in Moscow
As a city park, it has 2 main spectacular fountains that can't be missed! I think they are probably the most beautiful water fountains in all of Moscow. They have recently been restored to their original glory. The famous Friendship of the Nations Fountain and the beautiful Stone Flower Fountain. They were restored to their original colors as designed back in 1954. The buildings are culturally protected, and are beautiful. A fantastic place to view Socialist Realism art, while relaxing.
Friendship of the Nations Fountain
Sometimes called the Friendship of Peoples Fountain, it shows 16 golden women representing Soviet Republics. Each golden statue is holding a fruit or vegetable that's from their republic, forming a circle around the fountain. It's mesmerizing to look at the water spray, and to admire the details of the sculptures.
The Peoples Friendship Fountain represented these 16 former Soviet Republics; Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Lithuania, Latvia, Tajikistan, Estonia, Turkmenistan, Moldavia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Karelia and Kazakhstan. The encircle a golden wheat sheath, which is the centre of the fountain.
Stone Flower Fountain
The Stone Flower Fountain is literally a stone flower sculpture, featuring colorful stone petals, surrounded by brightly colored jewels which are covered in mosaics. The fountain increases and decreases the water pressure, allowing you to admire the colorful mosaic details. This was inspired by the Ural Mountains and a Russian fairytale, with a thousand water jets flowing out and around it. It is lavishly decorated, colorful and mesmerizing to watch. There are chairs to sit, relax and enjoy the fountain views. Grab an ice cream and take in the sights. This is the second largest fountain in VDNH.
Replicas of Soviet Aviation
As well as former Soviet Republics having pavilions, there is a replica of the Vostok space shuttle, a SU-27 fighter jet, helicopter, an actual Yak-42 plane which makes for an interesting walk. You can even walk right underneath the airplane.
The Vostok Space Shuttle used to be located in Gorky Park, but was relocated to VDNH in 2014. I don't think there are that many public parks in the world that showcase military hardware as part of the park exhibitions.
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
This is another example of Soviet Socialist Realism Art. It's a visually striking statue, with a man and woman holding a hammer and sickle over their heads. Originally built for the 1937 Worlds Fair, it has been recently restored and relocated beside the park grounds. If you've ever seen a Russian movie made by Mosfilm, this statue is their logo as well.
Soviet Pavilions of VDNH
VDNH park is dotted with grand pavilions, many of them with the names of the Soviet country the represented. The former Ukrainian pavilion is one of the most beautiful ones in the park, and it located prominently at the Stone Flower fountain. The Belarus Pavillion is open, and showcases and promotes items from Belarus, it's interesting to check it out inside. You almost need a checklist to view them all so you don't miss them. Architecturally striking, all different from each other. Other favorites of mine are the Armenian Pavilion, Karelia and Kazakhstan. Some of them are restaurants, others have been re-purposed and restored.
If you're thinking of visiting Moscow, I highly recommend going to VDNH. Such a unique park, I don't think there is anything like it in the world. A piece of Soviet history, I think it's one of the best city parks in the world. The restored VDNH (ВДНХ) is my favorite old park, you can't miss it when in Moscow.