New life for the Five Seas’ port: Northern River Terminal renovation

New life for the Five Seas’ port: Northern River Terminal renovation
Khimki River Terminal. By V. Savostyanov and M. Redkin, 1957
The city will use archive documents to restore the facades and the interior of the building. The park will include a new sports ground, a restaurant with a summer terrace, a playground and amusement rides.

The Northern River Terminal, also known as the Five Seas’ port, is a popular Moscow landmark. In various years, it has served as a harbour, a venue for making films and a place for romantic walks. In the wild 90s, the river terminal building, which looks like a Venetian palace, was handed over to restaurants and offices. Since the terminal has recently marked its 80th anniversary, it is now up for a large-scale renovation.

To find out more about the current and upcoming works to be carried out at the Northern River Terminal, read this article.

The Five Seas’ port

The Northern River Terminal was built in the Stalinist Empire Style in 1937 as part of the Moskva-Volga Canal. Unlike its southern counterpart, the Northern River Terminal became Moscow’s main river gate – ships sailing from here could reach the White, the Baltic, the Black and the Caspian seas, as well as the Sea of Azov. This is why Muscovites proudly call this river terminal the Five Seas’ port.

This building, in the shape of a ship, became an architectural and a city landmark. Its characteristic features include a long spire decorated with a star (which came from the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower) and a wide central staircase.

In the 1990s, as a result of decreased traffic volumes, the building was leased to commercial companies. In 2010, the terminal was closed due to its dilapidated condition – it has needed a renovation for 70 years.


Three years ago, the river terminal became city property. That’s when the city decided to conduct a large renovation of both the building and the surrounding grounds. 

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The city allowed Mosgortrans (Moscow City Transport) to take over the maintenance of the building in order to renovate it and restore its main function, which is providing river transport services. The terminal is now fully prepared for the renovation; it has been closed, cleaned up, the heating system works and the building is now guarded, said Deputy General Director of Mosgortrans Roman Sobolev.

“First, we will introduce emergency measures and repair the heating system,” Mr Sobolev said. “These measures include reinforcing the soil and foundation of the buildings in order to prevent new cracks or other structural issues in the course of renovation.”

Experts will preserve the historical look of every facility, including the arches, lamps, stained glass windows decorated with coat of arms of the USSR, and many other design details. The exterior of the main building and the utility systems will have a uniform style.

The renovation is being funded by the city; it is to be complete by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Water transport museum and a restaurant

Today, Muscovites can see the renovated staircase at the river terminal, plus the reinstalled floodlights on the tower. Scaffolding is currently being installed. Windows and doors have been reinforced for the winter to mitigate moisture. 

To restore the historical look of the building, experts are using the original design documents, aerial photography materials and documents dating to the mid-20th century.

“This project is currently being reviewed by the Moscow State Expert Assessment,” Roman Sobolev added. “We hope for approval this December. It includes restoring every element of the building and adapting it to the modern environment.”

The city is planning to include the Northern River Terminal in the integrated transport system. The project includes connecting Moscow and the Moscow Region, plus several other regions, via waterways. The city is also planning to promote river tourism.

A river transport museum will open in the main terminal building. The city is planning to renovate the restaurant with a summer terrace like in Volga-Volga and New Moscow films.

Still from the film Volga-Volga. Directed by Grigory Alexandrov, 1938

Free Wi-Fi and a navigation system for low mobility citizens

The project also includes improving the surrounding park, which includes about 50 hectares. Workers will pull out dead plants and plant new trees and shrubs; in the spring, they will plant flowers.

Inside the park, workers are to install benches and rubbish bins, restore the historical facilities, and recreate fountains, sculptures and other 1930-1950s decorative elements. The northern part of the park will have sports grounds; the central part will feature recreational zones, while the southern part will offer citizens playgrounds and amusement rides.

Central alley of the Khimki River Terminal park. By M. Redkin and V. Savostyanov, 1957

Those into recreational activities will enjoy bicycle lanes, while dog owners will get a new dog run. To meet the needs of low mobility people, the city will introduce a new navigation system that will include signage for the visually impaired and ramps for wheelchair users.

The centre of the park will include an amphitheatre and a cinema hall. The city is also planning to open a dance pavilion and a room for mothers with children. Visitors will be able to access free Wi-Fi throughout the park.

Archive photographs are provided by Moscow’s Main Archive Directorate