The Tower in the Terminal

To serve its almost 20,000,000 (yes, twenty million!) inhabitants, the city of Moscow can count on nine railway terminals and four international airports: Domodedovo, SheremetyevoZhukovsky, and Vnukovo. Today I want to talk about the last one in this list and, in particular, abut a rather unique architectural solution.

Vnukovo is Moscow’s oldest operating airport and it is the highest (204 metres – 669 ft above sea level). Hence, in case of fog, it frequently serves as an alternative airport. Its construction was approved by the Soviet government in 1937 and it was opened on 1 July 1941. During the Great Patriotic War, it was used as a military airbase. Passenger services started after the war: on 15 September 1956, the Tupolev Tu-104 jetliner made its first passenger flight from Moscow Vnukovo to Irkutsk via Omsk.

The heart of the airport for international flights is its terminal A. This is a huge “open space”  with light flooding in from the huge glass facades overlooking the runways and from the glass ceiling in the central part of the terminal.

One unique feature (at least to the best of my knowledge) is the airport’s control tower “sprouting” from the very center of the terminal.

Vnukovo Tower Exterior
An exterior view of Moscow Vnukovo airport terminal A, with the control tower visible atop the terminal itself.

The concrete structure serves both as the base of the tower and also as an anchor point for the steel girders supporting the glass panels of the ceiling. It is quite an impressive site both from “ground level” and from the first floor where the lounges are located.

Travel Tip!
It is worth noting that even if you are an economy class traveller, you can enter four different lounges either through a membership program or by purchasing a lounge pass.

From the outside the control tower appears like a flying saucer that has landed atop the circular terminal and gives the controllers a great 360 degrees view over the two intersecting runways of the airport.

For the aviation geeks (like me), the Boeing 737 you can see with northern lights painted on its tail fin is this plane flying for Yakutia airlines.

 

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