Luzhniki Olympic Complex (Russian: Olimpiyskiy kompleks “Luzhniki” or Олимпийский комплекс «Лужники») is the largest sports and entertainment complex in Russia, occupying over 150 ha. It includes the Grand and Small Sports Arenas, the Palace of Sports, the Druzhba Multipurpose Arena, and a huge swimming pool. The complex is situated in the central district of Khamovniki (Russian: Хамовники) and is most easily accessed from the metro stations Sportivnaya (Russian: Спортивная) and Luzhniki, which is on the Moscow Central Circle (within a 10-minute walk). The covered Grand Sports Arena (Russian: Bol’shaya sportivnaya arena or Большая спортивная арена) is an 80,000-seat UEFA Category 4 stadium and the largest covered concert venue in Russia. This arena is one of the key venues for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It will host the opening ceremony and the final matches.
HISTORY AND DESIGN
The Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union decided to build a giant sports complex in the Sparrow Hills (Russian: Vorobyevy gory or Воробьевы горы) at the end of 1954. The construction was completed within a very tight timescale: it took only three months to design the project and 450 days to erect the whole complex. Curiously, it contains the metal structures that were originally intended for the construction of Stalin’s eighth high-riser (which was never built).
The project was designed by a group of architects led by Alexander Vlasov. They managed to fit the ensemble’s layout into the urban environment harmoniously. It looks as if the Grand Sports Arena, the central building of Luzhniki, continues the axis of Moscow State University, which is on the opposite bank of the river, while the Small Sports Arena and the swimming pool balance the length of this axis.
The Central Lenin Stadium (Luzhniki’s original name) was inaugurated on 31 July 1956 and hosted the 1st Spartakiad of Peoples of the USSR right away. Later on, the complex was expanded and reconstructed a number of times. The largest-scale renovation was dedicated to the 1980 Summer Olympics. The complex has recently undergone another extensive renovation and modernisation to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The tribunes have been enlarged and safety standards have been improved.
FACILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
The main building of the Luzhniki Sports Complex is the Grand Sports Arena designed to seat nearly 80,000. This arena has seen a number of important sports events, including Spartakiads, World Youth Games, matches of Russia’s national football team and the Football Champions League.
Stand C houses a museum of Soviet and Russian sports (Russian: muzey sporta “Luzhniki” or музей спорта «Лужники»), where you can learn the history of Russian sport since the late 19th century up to the present day. The museum opened in 1957 and has essentially expanded its permanent exhibition since then. Currently, there are about 25,000 exhibits on display. Guided tours around the museum are available upon booking.
The Small Sports Arena (Russian: Malaya sportivnaya arena or Малая спортивная арена) located nearby has a capacity of around 9,000. This is the home stadium for the HC Spartak Moscow. On the opposite side of the Grand Arena, you will see one of the largest swimming pools in Russia, which includes two outdoor baths and three indoor ones.
Luzhniki Palace of Sports (Russian: dvorets sporta “Luzhniki” or дворец спорта «Лужники») is a multipurpose sports facility with a capacity of about 13,000. Its comfortable arena can be easily converted into either a concert/sports venue or a synthetic ice skating rink, which makes it suitable for hosting events of varying types and sizes.
The Druzhba Multipurpose Arena (Russian: universal’ny sportivny zal “Druzhba” or универсальный спортивный зал «Дружба») is another critical building, erected in the late 1970s. It was designed to resemble the Palazzetto dello Sport arena in Rome. It is currently closed for extensive reconstruction which is planned to be completed by the end of 2018.
The sports complex area is a huge garden and park ensemble with numerous cultural and entertainment facilities. This is where you can see the allegorical sculptures Earth and Water, designed by Vera Mukhina and recognised as objects of Russia’s national cultural heritage. The central avenue connecting the Grand Arena with the Moskva River Embankment features the unique flower garden Acknowledging Eternity (Russian: “Priznaniye vechnosti” or «Признание вечности»), which holds the Guinness World Record for its size. The area of 3,000 sq m is covered by 35,000 flowering plants in the warm season. The complex also has a hotel with a conference room, a centre of sports medicine, a fitness club, a golf academy, and outdoor playgrounds for all kinds of sports.
The 1980 Olympics are the most well-known event of those that have been held in Luzhniki. The complex hosted the opening and closing ceremonies as well as the competitions in athletics, volleyball, water polo, equestrian sports, judo, and football.
Since its opening, the sports complex has hosted world- and European-level tournaments in various sports, e.g. seven Spartakiads of Peoples of The USSR, World Cups in gymnastics, fencing, figure skating, and athletics, the 1999 UEFA final, 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, and many more.
The Grand Sports Arena is believed to be the largest concert venue in Russia. It held the first performances of global celebrities in Russia: Michael Jackson in 1993, The Rolling Stones in 1998, Madonna in 2006, Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2012, etc. It was also where Viktor Tsoi, the rock icon of the Soviet Union, and his band Kino performed for the last time in 1990.© 2016-2021 moscovery.com