It is clean, it is incredibly loud and it is very difficult to get lost in. If you need a bit more information about Minsk metro or having troubles with getting from Kamiennaja Horka to Mahiloŭskaja, feel free to use this simple guide.
*Skip that if you just wanna ride
We were not joking when we said that it’s hard to get lost in the Minsk metro. The map speaks for itself: there are only two lines with 29 stations. The third line is still under construction.
Minsk metro history began in 1977. When the number of city residents reached 1,000,000, the Soviet government issued a decree on the Minsk metro construction. It is still the only city in Belarus with a subway.
The first line is called Maskoŭskaja, it was opened in 1984 and has 15 stations. The construction of Aŭtazavodskaja line was finished in 1990, and it now includes 14 stations. Transfer between lines is only at Kastryčnickaja and Kupałaŭskaja stations.
Trains travel with an average speed of 45 km/h (28 mph), 80 km/h (49 mph). It is very noisy in the tunnels, so make sure you have in-ear headphones. They will help to muffle the roar and clang while cars are on the move.
City officials plan to replace old Soviet cars with new and much more silent ones in the coming years. Just recently, Stadler presented its first train for the third line of Minsk metro, which is now under construction.
Getting to a station
In most cases, you need to look for a pedestrian subway marked with the red letter “M”. Entrances to Płošča Lenina, Kupałaŭskaja and Kastryčnickaja stations are integral to city buildings, but the red “M” still shows the right way.
Unfortunately, not all stations are equipped with special access facilities, only those that were built after 2001.
Mahiloŭskaja, Spartyŭnaja, Kuncaŭščyna, Kamiennaja Horka, Malinaŭka, Piatroŭščyna, Michałova, Hrušaŭka, Uručča and Barysaŭski trakt stations have elevators for physically challenged passengers.
Timetables and security checks
You can get into the station as early as at 5.30 a.m. Metro usually closes at 12.40 a.m., but sometimes it is open until early morning. That happens during big celebrations and announced one or two days before.
Metro trains arrive every two or three minutes during rush hours, but if you decide to ride the subway during the day or late at night, get ready to wait a little longer, from 5 to 12 minutes.
Mind that at each metro station there are security officers on duty who may search your belongings or ask you to go through a metal detector.
Unfortunately, this procedure has become familiar to residents of the city after the Minsk metro bombing on April 11, 2011, which killed 15 people.
Paying for a trip
There are three ways to pay for a ride in Minsk subway. First, you can buy a token for one trip. We call it “zheton”. It will get you as far as to any station of your choice.
You can buy tokens in special kiosks located at the entrances. Just drop the token in the slot of the turnstile, and enjoy the ride. As of 13 April 2019, one token costs 0,65 BYN ($0.4).
You can acquire a swipe card. There are cards with a restricted number of paid trips (e.g. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 trips for 60 days, or 60 or 100 trips for 80 days) or the period of validity (10 days, 15 days, 1 month).
You can also buy an unlimited swipe card for two or three days. In this case, you will be able to use the metro and any other means of public transport, except for express bus routes.
A swipe card will even help you save some money. For instance. you’ll pay 6.17 BYN ($2.9) for a card restricted to 10 trips, while 10 tokens will cost you 6.5 BYN ($3). A penny saved is a penny earned!
Paying with a bank card or a smartphone is recently an option too. If you have a card with Visa PayWave and Mastercard PayPass systems or a phone equipped with NFC technology, you may never bother with tokens and swipe cards.
Put your card or phone to a reading device on a turnstile, and the cost of one trip will be written off from your account.
There is a metro map in each train car and at each station. Stations have three-digit numbers assigned to them (e.g. Pralietarsakaja has 214, Uschod has 122).
All stations except Pieršamajskaja have island-type platforms, so you are (almost) never at risk of getting to a wrong railway.
Some symbols in stations’ names may seem odd to you. Just ignore them and read the letters in your usual manner.
If you are not in a hurry, take your time and admire the interiors of the older stations, full of Soviet brutalism architecture vibes. They can tell you something about the history of the city.
The relief figures and decorative inserts of the Instytut Kultury station reflect the main achievements of the Belarusian culture.
The Maskoŭskaja metro fascinates travelers with its white marble columns and bas-reliefs reminiscent of the Moscow Kremlin. By the way, the Moscow metro has Belorusskaja station with mosaics and statues showing the life in BSSR.
The palette of the Kastryčnickaja station is full of the socialist revolution vibes: the walls are lined with white marble and the floor is polished with red granite.
However, the newer stations also have something to show. The Hrušaŭka station, for example, boasts an installation of a huge pear.
The station interior, according to its creators, should resemble an orchard. The columns are painted yellow, and the circles on the ceiling symbolize the tree crowns.
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Text by Anton Ananich