Most architecture from the Soviet Union can be described as uniform, functional, and austere. That’s why so many bus stops leftover from the era look shockingly out-of-place in comparison. 

In a time when conformity was the law of the land, these structures provided a rare outlet for creative expression. Local artists were free to design creations as imaginative as they pleased, varying in shape, size, and medium. One mosaic structure in the coastal town of Gagra, Abkhazia, resembles a tall wave curling into a protective overhang above the bus stop stools. Another in Astana, Kazakhstan, features the iconic hammer and sickle symbol juxtaposed with blue snowflakes and red stars.

Public transportation was a significant part of life in the Soviet Union. Not only were busses and trains a sign of unification, they were also a symbol of national progress. By the mid-'80s, busses accounted for close to 44 percent of the country’s traffic. Many citizens spent a good deal of time waiting at bus stops, and these colorful structures broke up the otherwise desolate landscapes that cover much of the former Soviet Union.

A new book of photography titled Soviet Bus Stops is now available to order on Amazon. It’s the result of Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig’s 12-year journey through 13 countries that previously fell behind the Iron Curtain. Since the Soviet Union dissolved nearly 25 years ago, many of the bus stops have fallen into disrepair. Whether or not they're still standing 10, 25, or 100 years from now, Herwig’s photography will remain a testament to some of the most unique works of art to ever emerge from the Soviet Union. 

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Astana, Kazakhstan Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, March 10, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day, Naelavere, ESTONIA. Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Sunday, March 9, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day - Airport, Paltova, Ukraine, 2013, photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Saturday, March 8, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Pitsunda, Abkhazia, 2013. Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Friday, March 7, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the day. Lake Sevan, Armenia 2013 Photo by Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Soviet Bus Stop of the Day. Merv, Turkmenistan, 2005 Photo by: Christopher Herwig

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Saturday, March 1, 2014

In Abkhazia, down the road from Sochi, Russia.

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, February 24, 2014

In Abkhazia, down the road from Sochi, Russia.

Posted by Soviet Bus Stops on Monday, February 24, 2014


[h/t: Foreign Policy]