Soviet Sporting Holy Ground
Luzhniki, the largest stadium in the former Soviet Union, has an illustrious history. The Soviet authorities planned the stadium to showcase the prowess of their athletes after the war. Once it was completed in 1956, it held a number of USSR-wide and international championships, though its crowning moment came during the Olympics in 1980. During that summer, viewers from around the world tuned in on their TV sets to watch Leonid Brezhnev, in Luzhniki’s presidential box, raise his hand to mark the start of the summer games.
Architecture and Location
Luzhniki has undergone several renovations since its opening in 1956. The latest iteration, unveiled just last year, gave the stadium a roof that also functions as a 40,000-square-meter screen, which, among other things, has been used to broadcast a Russian flag to all air traffic flying over south-central Moscow. It remains Russia’s largest football stadium and is one of the largest stadiums in Europe.
When constructing the stadium, the Soviets did not begrudge giving it one of the prime spots in Moscow; it is located in a picturesque site on the banks of the Moscow River. A cable car, whose opening will coincide with the World Cup, will ferry visitors over the river to a viewing platform atop the city’s famed Sparrow Hills, where they will we able to admire Luzhniki’s screen roof from above.
Getting to Luzhniki is easy. The stadium is located at the junction of two metro lines, and the 10-minute walk from either the Luzhniki or Sportivnaya metro stations will take you down a treeand fountain-lined alley straight to the stadium.