The Metropol Hotel building is an outstanding work of art nouveau style. Its construction lasted from 1899 to 1905. The idea of building a huge multifunctional cultural and hotel complex in this place originated from Savva Ivanovich Mamontov, a renowned businessman and patron of the arts. He engaged the best artistic forces of Moscow in the construction of the building.
The birth of the Metropol Hotel
The hotel facades facing the Kitaigorodskaya wall were designed by architect Kekushev. They look simple and austere. To all appearances, their only decorative elements are the vertical strips of brick-like ceramic tiles in spaces between the windows.
However, the facades along Teatralny Proezd (Theater Lane) and Teatralnaya Ploshchad (Theater Square) are surprising in their abundance of decorative elements. It seems that the authors wanted to show all opportunities of art nouveau, fully translating the principle of the arts synthesis into life. These facades were designed by William Walkott, a young architect.
The hotel facades have a clear horizontal articulation. The first tier faces the street and once housed mostly shops, office premises, hairdressers, and also the hotel’s restaurant and coffee shop, which were open not only to the guests, but also to the outside visitors. In the architecture of the first tier they used the arcades motif, it is sectioned by wide glass-paned granite faced arches. They have something in common with the arches of neighboring buildings facing Teatralny Proezd and Teatralnaya Ploshchad. The second and third tiers are extremely simple they have smooth wall planes sectioned by window apertures.
The fourth, fifth and sixth tiers of the building are extremely lavishly decorated. The fourth tier stands out for its coloured majolica and molded relief (the author is Nikolai Andreyev), the fourth one for its coloured brickwork. At the level of the fourth floor the building has a belt of balconies whose grills were made according to a design signed by M. Peretyatkovich. The sixth tier is probably the most important in the facade composition. It is represented by remarkable majolica panels. The biggest one facing Neglinnaya Ulitsa (Street) is modeled on a painting by Mikhail Vrubel. This is the famous The Faraway Princess. The other panels were made to the sketches by Alexander Golovin and Serghei Chekhonin. In little arches they placed majolica vases at the Abramtsevo factory. The drains are decorated with sculptures of boys. The vertical articulations passing through the two upper tiers culminate in Gothic pinnacles. They are echoed by the pinnacles of the lantern lights crowning the atriums which cut through the entire building. Later a huge dome was built over a part of the building, hiding both the restaurant dome and its surrounding indoor premises.
Initially the building had a majolica belt with a quotation from Friedrich Nietzsche. This is again the same old story, when you have built a house you understand that you have learned something. After the October Revolution a big part of the quotation disappeared from the Hotel walls and a quotation from another thinker appeared there: Only the dictatorship of proletariat can free the mankind from capitalist yoke. B.I.Lenin.
Such architects as A. Erikhson, I.Zholtovsky, artists S. Chekhonin, I. Nivinsky, P. Kuznetsov took part in interior decoration of the Hotel.
A second birth of the Metropol Hotel
In 1986 the Metropol Hotel was closed for restoration. It was necessary to strengthen the foundations and replace the wooden floors with concrete ones. Unique wall and ceiling murals, which in the Soviet times they preferred to simply cover with new layers of paint, needed clearing, and the famous façade with its remarkable majolica panels and bas-relief needed restoration, stained glass lost colour, bathroom equipment and supply lines became obsolete. An agreement was made with Perusyhtymja Company from Finland. A part of the restoration work was performed by the restorers of the Institute for Special Restoration Projects (Spetsproektrestavratsiya) and Mosproject 2.
Before the reconstruction they performed a historical and cultural examination. It was decided to make the rooms, restaurant halls and lobbies finishing on that basis. In the course of the clearing work they found interesting murals and ancient plafonds under several layers of old paint and plaster. Thus, in Boyarskiy hall they had to remove seven layers of paint before the original murals of the beginning of XX century were restored. Unique restoration work on the Hotel interiors will later be described in the architectural monuments restoration manuals. Antique furniture, chandeliers, paintings, vases, were sent for treatment to St. Petersburg to the Hermitage restoration workshops. In the course of the reconstruction the old building accommodated a conference hall seating 300 persons, a fitness center with a swimming pool, a sauna, gym, business center; the state-of-the art supply lines and hotel service systems were laid. The central entrance was shifted and a new central hall was arranged instead of the old patio.
In 1991 the grand opening of the renovated Metropol was held. As a result of colossal work a new hotel was created, which combines all splendour of antique luxury with the latest achievements in the field of comfort.