Obcessed by the propaganda, the leaders of the former Soviet regime promoted actions that today would be considered megalomaniac and unreasonable. One of these over the top actions was the construction of a huge model of the city of Moscow, destined to be visited and admired by the people who would admire the magnificence of the Soviet Union's capital, bigger and better than any other Western capital. The work was ordered in 1976, a time when the regime was in its last stages of agony. Its swan song.
To reproduce such an immense city, a huge modelling work was done. The Russian artist Efim Deshalyt was in charge of this task, which he finished a year later, in 1977, when it was opened to the public. The model covers a surface of 37 000 m2 and was done with amazing detail. However, the most amazing characteristic is its illumination system that allows the realism to be kept twenty four hours a day, simulating the variations between day light and night time.
Behind every window there is a small lamp that lights up when night comes, giving the illusion of a city with a terrific night life. Even the boats in the river have lights in their interior! This spectacular effect is the model's true hindrance: thousands of lamps were needed to create the desired lighting effects, which ended up in an unmeasured electric consumption. This was the main reason why the exhibit was closed to the public after the fall of the regime, in a Russia braced in financial problems.
Nowadays, this fabulous miniature is lodged in the city's municipal building and is visited almost exclusively by tourists. Even so, it continues to pose as a financial loss, and some argue it should be destroyed. That's why it is up for auction for three million dollars. Any bidders?
Photographs by Natalia Grishkina