Moscow VDNKh Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (VDNKh) is a permanent general purpose trade show and amusement park located in the Northern part of Moscow in Russia. The park opened on February 1935. Also, it used to be known as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition, before adopting its current name.
Moreover, the venue is primarily a trade and exhibition center, used to hold big events and able to take on thousands of visitors at a go. On normal days, it is an open public park and is open all day long, 24 hours a day. Let’s check it out.
Getting to VDNK
Furthermore, Moscow’s Metro trains is recommended way to get to VDNKh. It takes about a 40 minute commute from downtown Moscow. You can read more of it on my write-up of my adventures in the Russian Metro. Without a doubt, the name of the station of interest is no other than VDNKh. It is located in the Prospekt Mira district.
Notably, the park establishment itself is sizable that it even has its own Metro station named after it. Additionally, the metro station exits into an open public transport terminal section with a bus and monorail station (Vystavochny Tsentr monorail station). These are all conveniently located adjacent to the metro station.
Moreover, VNDK is located near the Moscow Ostankino TV Tower. The monorail and bus terminal serve routes to the station if you plan on heading up the tower observation deck. Getting there involves a short 10 minute commute. You can see it persistently looming in the background when you are in VNDK.
Museum of Cosmonautics
Moreover, from the VNDK Metro across a courtyard, you may notice a peculiar tall monument. Greeting you at the surface at the Metro is the Russian Museum of Cosmonautics. Above the museum sits the Space Conquerors Monument. The monument commemorates the Russian achievements in space. Notably, it is open daily from 10am – 7pm, except Mondays.
Furthermore, Russians take great pride in their developments in Space and exploration. Also considering the Soviet Union were the first in the world to launch an artificial satellite (The Sputnik 1) on 1957 into orbit, as well as starting the space race. Notably, those were times where the world saw great innovations in space.
Additionally, behind the museum sits an open park with some murals, bust statues of notable figures involved in the Russian space development there is also a Solar System Monument.
A world fair like setting
The main arch of VNDK signifies the main entrance of the attraction. Entry to the park is free. VDNKh has a world fair feel. Also, I can imagine the place painting a scene perfect with whizzing monorails and retro space ships like that pictured by Walt Disney himself. Come to think of it, it does feel bit like an Epcot in Disneyland world, minus the rides.
Furthermore, there are well manicured lawns and tidy flowerbeds which stretches down from the entrance as a central walkway. Big central spaces with statues and fountains connects and marks the end of each of the massive walkways.
The first walkway leads to a central building with a larger than life Monument of Vladimir Lenin taking center piece. The statue sits in front of the House of Peoples of Russia.
Also, these walkways are separated by sectors with several pavilion-like buildings. Along the garden pathways are few snack and food stores, as well as open air coffee shops which you can grab a bite or two when you are in the park.
Beautiful Parks and Fountains
Leading down, another long open pathway leads you to the heart of the park. It is a large open space with a large fountain in the center. Known as the Friendship of Nations fountain, it comprises of several gold painted statues sitting on a raised superstructure rising from a massive water body.
The VNDK parks are very pleasant to walk in. It is not crowded and are clean with minimal litter. A long lush green manicured lawn runs the entire length of move pavilion walkways. There are topped by by carefully plated flower beds.
The park is used by both the young and old for recreation. Moreover, you can see kids running around and families on trips pushing strollers around the park. Moreover, there is ample seating around the park, offered by a combination of beaches and garden chairs.
Furthermore, leading in from the Friendship of Nations fountain is the Stone Flower Fountain. It is the largest fountain in the park with a stone fountain shaped like a blooming flower sprouting water.
Also, this fountain is surrounded by several other minor smaller fountains which offers a nice mix of water features making up the elaborate fountain installation. Moreover, there are several cafe benches you can use to sit around to appreciate the view, particularly in Summer.
Pavilions and displays
Along the sides of each walkway, there are a couple of fountain gardens flanked by themed exhibition pavilion buildings. However, several of these buildings are empty for most part of the year when there are no trade shows.
These buildings were re-purposed as museums or rented out into pop-up stores and crude shopping complexes. Moreover, a couple of buildings were seen to offer food and retail. Goods of the trade ranges from small trade goods such as dry foods, to time pieces. There were some interesting finds too.
A walk around inside a makeshift mall yielded some music record shops and a cool shop selling Russian army surplus store. They are selling several notable pieces of Russian military equipment. Fancy a Russian Ushanka or a Russian style gas mark anyone?
Museums and activity pavilions
The end of the pavilion is a square surrounded by a mix of museums and activity pavilions. This spot is about a kilometer walk from the entry arch.
Notably, littered around this large circular space is a showcase of several Russian Aerospace engineering achievements. Taking center stage here is on display is a Vostok Rocket. It is installed suspended from a launch tower perched over a launcher pad. It sits in front of the expansive Space Pavilion.
Furthermore, here we have a Vertolot Mi-8T attack helicopter, a Yak-42 Jet as well as an Su-27 Fighter jet. These hardware were previously active hardware decommissioned and repurposed as public display items for the VDNKh today.
Children activity areas and a Space shuttle?
Additionally, there are a couple of family activity businesses here were open during my visit. This included a theater and an arcade called the Muzey Illyuziy entertainment center.
In addition here you can find some family comforts like an Aquarium and a Butterflyrium. Moreover, a museum worth mentioning is the Robostation and arena space. It is a fun little exhibition space where visitors can interact with robots, selections includes dancing bots, talking bots and basketball throwing robots.
Moreover, in this sector, you can also find a decommissioned Russian Buran Spacecraft which you can explore. Buran was the first “shuttle like” space plane to be produced as part of the Soviet Russian Buran programme. It is situated by an open children’s playground, which seemed quite neglected being thrown into a corner. I find it did not do much justice to the historical significance it brings.
Most of the exhibition, trade centers and museums here were closed or undergoing major extended renovations. You will be good if you come to VNDK as a park and botanical garden. However, if you come here with and expectation to see a world-fair or equivalent or a sprawling museum place, then you are quite into some disappointment.
Interestingly, on my visit, there was visible construction of a new amusement park on the west side of VNDKh. This might probably spice up the park offerings as a amusement center upon completion.
VNDK shopping Mall
There isn’t much food choices or eateries inside the VDNKh park. With the closest dining area is the VDNKh mall as well as a retail park style shopping area comprising of a nearby sporting goods store and a MacDonald’s outside of VDNKh.
Moreover, if you wish to find something more palatable, VNDK has a shopping Mall with a decent food court with affordable fast food offerings such as Macdonalds, KFC and Subway. It is located, by the entrance of the garden and beside a bus and monorail interchange station.
Furthermore, the shopping mall is a small two storey mall in two blocks with a number of retail shops. However, the mall which could had seen better days. Most of the shops on the second floor are empty with the exception of the mall food court. Notably, here, the degree of American influence and adaptation of American fast food was surprisingly for me. Even MacDonald’s is pretty much a household staple in Russia.
All in all VNDK is a worthy of a visit if you have about half a day of spare time in Moscow. Also, I recommend to visit the Moscow nearby Ostankino TV Tower to justify the long trip north. If you plan to visit any of the museums in the attraction, and you will be good for about an entire day. The lack of food options is quite a letdown, though there are some fast food options if you don’t mind. It is not a must-go, but if you like some good time by parks, flowers and fountains, you are good.