The Avtovo metro station in St. Petersburg is recognized as the most beautiful in the world according to the Guardian newspaper, and the Daily Telegraph newspaper called this station one of the most beautiful in Europe.
The station was opened in 1955. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that 30 columns in the underground hall are faced with marble, and 16 - with glass. Such material has not been used anywhere else in the domestic metro.
They wanted to create the station in the form of a "crystal palace", where not only the columns, but also the walls were to be faced with glass, and the columns were to be illuminated from the inside.
The design of the station was entrusted to architects A. Grushka and E. Levinson. They faced a daunting task. It was necessary to cover the concrete rod with glass so that the concrete was not visible. Glass plates were made in the workshops of the Leningrad Art Glass Factory, and engineers tirelessly selected the shades of the cast plates. But the problem could not be solved. The glass, sparkling like crystal, was transparent, and a concrete rod could be seen through it.
It was impossible to do without the help of physicists. The decision was suggested by Professor of Perm University G.Z. Gershuni. He proposed to make a faceted inner surface of the plates, and to cut the surface at an angle of 80 degrees. Under such conditions, a kind of optical effect is created. Light reflects off the edges before it reaches the concrete, and the glass stops showing through. When the columns were finished with such plates, they began to look like glass monoliths.
However, one more problem had to be solved. Concrete supports are subject to settlement over time, and if the glass is attached to the structure tightly, it will quickly crack. Leningrad architects have found a way to securely fix fragile plates. They were secured with a decorative gilded ribbon wrapped around the columns. She began to pull them together, like a hoop.
It was originally planned to tile all 46 columns, but due to lack of funds, by the time the station opened, only 16. The rest were temporarily faced with marble tiles. And soon a decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU "On the elimination of excesses in design and construction" was issued, and the question of facing the station with glass was forever closed.
The theme of the station design is the defense of Leningrad. Here the front line passed nearby, and tanks from the Kirov Plant were sent from the shops directly to the front. Massive chandeliers, lamps, lattices are decorated with laurel branches, gilded swords and other emblems of military valor. The end wall of the underground hall is decorated with a mosaic panel "Victory", depicting a woman with a baby in her arms, by artists V. A. Voronetsky and A. K. Sokolov.
Some people have noticed the similarity of "Victory" with the image of the Mother of God. They say that elderly Leningrad grandmothers, going down the metro, were baptized, seeing the image of "Victory". And it was located there exactly where the altar should be - in the eastern part of the underground hall.
The station got its name from the historic district in which it is located. The name Avtovo is of Finnish origin. Most likely, it comes from the Finnish "autto" - "desert", or "ovto" - bear.
There is a legend about how the village got its name. In 1824, the most powerful and destructive flood occurred in the entire history of St. Petersburg. Emperor Alexander I, after the revelry of the elements, began to bypass the most affected places. He also reached a village in the present Avtovo district. The peasants immediately gathered around the Emperor and began to complain about their lot. One old man shouted loudest of all, but the emperor could not make out the words. He summoned an old man from the crowd and told him to tell who had suffered and what had been lost.
The old man shouted: "Father-tsar, the aftavo carried away the cows, the aftavo carried away all the belongings, the aftavo horses, the aftavo ..." To which the tsar replied: "This is all at Aftov's, and what died for the others?" After that, the emperor was explained that "aftovo" in the local dialect means "this". The tsar laughed and ordered to build a new village with state money and name it Autovo.