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Russian Ferris wheels, ghosts from the Soviet past

While Moscow’s tallest Ferris wheel is on the verge of disappearing, its ‘comrades’ still define the image of many Russian cities.
By Alexey Mosko
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Moscow-850, the giant Ferris wheel located at the All-Russia Exhibition Center (VDNkh), topped the Russian headlines in October when the park owner announced that the amusement ride would be dismantled.

Vladimir Vyatkin/RIA Novosti

The wheel, constructed in 1995 to mark the 850th anniversary of the Russian capital, is a modern landmark of Moscow, being one of the few creations to have emerged from the crisis-hit 1990s. At 73 meters (240 ft), it was the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe until 1999. //The Ferris wheel "Moscow-850", foregrounded by the sculpture "Worker and Kolkhoz Woman"

Mikhail Fomichev/TASS

Moscow’s tallest Ferris wheel is likely to follow the fate of its sister ride in Gorki Park, demounted in 2011.

Lori/Legion Media

While Ferris wheels are not among the capital’s top attractions, it is still worth having a look at the city’s oldest, located in Izmailovsky Park in eastern Moscow. Built in 1957 in the wake of the World Festival of Youth and Students, the amusement became a symbol of Soviet-style recreation.

Alexander Konkov/TASS

Although Ferris wheels were borrowed from the ideologically alien United States, the concept became widespread in the Soviet Union. Almost every big city in the country had its own observation wheel, usually the focal point of the main park. //Moscow’s Gorki Park, June 1984

Valeri Shustov/RIA Novosti

Despite the communist mantra of all citizens being equal, Muscovites were clearly “more equal.” They had better entertainment facilities and fun fairs in the two parks Gorki and Sokolniki, the ultimate dream of every Soviet child. //Sokolniki Park, July 1983

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The Ferris wheel in Pripyat was also meant to be a children’s paradise, but turned into a symbol of hell on Earth. A silent eyewitness of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the wheel has never been used. Its opening was scheduled for May 1, 1986, International Workers’ Day, just a few days after the tragedy.

Shutterstock/Legion Media

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the abandoned wheel in Pripyat belongs to Ukraine, but there are disused amusements in Russia as well. The Ferris wheel in the city in Pervouralsk in the Northern Urals has not been in use for ten years due to its poor technical condition. This spring it was eventually dismantled.

Shutterstock/Legion Media

Soviet-style amusement parks still constitute an important part of the urban realm of many Russian cities. Old constructions are, however, being replaced by more technically sophisticated ones. //Ferris wheel in Russia's westernmost city of Kaliningrad.

Lori/Legion Media

Russia’s pacific coast differs significantly from its “Baltic riviera,” but the Ferris wheel looks largely the same. //Ferris wheel on the quay in Vladivostok

Lori/Legion Media

Russia's tallest Ferris wheel (83 meters) is located in Lazarevskoe on the Black Sea, 70 km north of Sochi. It was commissioned in 2012.

Sergey Karpov/TASS

Also in the Sochi area, but inland, closer to the mountains, you can try another ride: the Ferris wheel on Mt Akhun. Located 662 meters above sea level, the wheel is a perfect observation point.

Boris Kavashkin/TASS

Ferris wheels can be found even in quite small Russian cities. //This fairground attraction is located in the historic town of Murom (around 300 km east from Moscow)

Sergey Savostyanov/TASS

In the Russian republics //Ferris wheel in Kazan, capital of Tatarstan

Maksim Shemetov/TASS

And even in pretty remote places //Tynda, the largest stop on the Baikal-Amur Mainline
October 28, 2015
Tags: Russian regions, ussr, Russian architecture, parks

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