The International Steam Pages

Grand Maket Rossiya / The Grand Model of Russia, St. Petersburg

After many years in Moscow, Harvey Smith relocated to St. Petersburg in 2014. There is a list of linked reports at the bottom.

This is easy to find. Just go to Moscow Vorota metro station. Come out and cross the road opposite the green fire station keeping the great green Triumphal “Moscow Gate” on the left. Proceed one block south and take the first turning on the left. The streets are quite narrow, so do not let the map deceive you into thinking you are looking for a wide street. Walk 2 blocks and turn right. You will see the building housing the Grand Maket on the left next to the small park / open space.

The website is here -

The map and address is here - (link dead by 25th October 2016)

An introductory video is here -

You can rent an audio guide and small binoculars. The binoculars are a must. The detail is superb and it is spread across the layout.

I have been to model railway shows in Alexandra Place in London, where clubs show their enormous layouts. But nothing prepared me for the sight of the Grand Maket Rossiya. The statistics tell you everything, the layout is 800 square metres, with more than 2500 metres of track, running 2700 items of rolling stock, including 250 locomotives. To call the Grand Maket Rossiya a “model railway” is an understatement.

This is a stylised representation of the world’s largest country in 1:87 scale. All major landmarks are here. For anyone visiting St.Petersburg, but then not exploring the rest of Russia this exhibit is a must.

Almost the entire country is here from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad. The only places I could not find were Kamchatka with its volcanoes and Sakhalin where I spent two happy years of my life. Trust me almost every major landmark is represented, The Ural mountains, the Kremlin in Moscow the Peter and Paul fortress in St.Petersburg, the holiday resort of Sochi including its ski resort and beaches.

At this exhibit you will see almost every aspect of Russian life and above all much of it actually moves and works:

  1. Cars and trucks pass along roads, cranes move loads.
  2. Hunting scenes with miniature rifles that bang and flash.
  3. A lady feeding her chickens which then peck the ground.
  4. Men chopping wood.
  5. Children on a sea saw.
  6. A tiny frog on a riverside rock.
  7. People at the theatre with a working screen.
  8. A submarine cut through with sailors sitting at working monitors.
  9. A cinema sliced through playing films in front of an audience.
  10. A small apartment block / office building is sliced through with working dioramas inside the miniature rooms.
  11. Firemen fighting a blaze in an apartment block.
  12. A steam locomotive puffs real smoke.
  13. Several working narrow gauge industrial railways.
  14. Russia is represented in summer and winter, and at night and during the day. A lightning storm is represented. Yes, lightning strikes do occur.

You name it, you will find it working, and many of these small working scenes can be operated by visitors pressing buttons on the side of the layout.

Great lengths have also gone into finding 1:87 Russian cars, trucks, and locomotives.

Nothing is done to hide the mechanics and electronics of the exhibit. In fact, as much as possible is done to show the visitor how the whole exhibit works. You can see the trains passing underneath, and the racks of trains waiting to be summoned into life. The computer control room is behind a glass wall in the centre of the room, and to enter you walk past the technicians working on models and tiny electronic motors for cars and locomotives.

In short, imagine a model railway built by the finest electrical engineers and artists that you can find, with no expense spared, add accuracy, passionate attention to detail, and imagination, then you will understand what is the Grand Maket Rossiya. Yes, it is that good.

I remain spell-bound in a 1:87 world.

See also:

Rob Dickinson