Where to go?, Moscow
In 1890-93, the Upper Trading Rows (now GUM) were erected in the so-called "Russian style" on the east side of the Red Square.The very word "rows" goes back into the distant past. It had long been the custom in Russia to have a special row for trading in a certain article. The facades of the long buildings of the Upper Rows are a decorative display of elements of Russian ornament applied to the architecture of the late 19th and early 20th century. The large glass roofs were installed over the trading lines with the help of metal constructions. In 1921, on the initiative of Lenin, the country's largest department store was opened in the building of the Upper Trading Rows. In the 1930s, a number of governmental institutions worked here. In 1953, after major repairs, the State Department Store (or GUM as it is called for short) was reopened. The trading sections are arranged in three long lines. Now this is one of the biggest shopping malls in a central Moscow where a staff of about 8,000 serves the more than 300,000 customers visiting the store daily.
What to buy: daily 10-00am - 10pm
Take your time and enjoy shops selling wares from around the world. You can buy Levis, Estee Lauder and Christian Dior, but why not explore a little and find out what shops like Kristi, Steilmann's and Gallery Bosco di Ciliegi have to offer as well.
Look for Russia's famous confection, Krasny Oktyobr (Red October) Chocolates, at refreshment stands and Russian shops throughout GUM. Be prepared for a taste unlike American, French or English chocolates, as Red October chocolate is usually lighter in weight, darker in color and more bittersweet in taste than Western fare.
What to pay: remember, It will take most of a day to see GUM Department Store, which is actually a huge, multi-story mall encompassing over 150 stores and kiosks.
Arm yourself with a calculator and the latest exchange rates before you go shopping. Stores will quote you prices in rubles, so you should know how much you should be paying to avoid getting swindled.
Ismailovo vernissage –
the best place
to buy souvenirs
If you would like to buy really good souvenirs in Moscow on reasonable price, don’t miss Ismailovo vernissage. It’s on Partisanskaya metro station, or just in one step from the tourist hotel complex Ismailovo.
Here are you can find really wild range of Russian tradition art beginning from Gzel, Hohloma, Fedoskino, Palekh to Uzbek ceramics and Soviet antiques. And don’t forget to ask for discount! It is the place “or near offer”!
Close to the vernisage is Ismailovo Kremlin, which was built in present days in architecture style of Tsar Residence in Ismailovo, quite interesting place to visit. There is Traditional Russian craft center here, even with own forge!
There are some cafés, which suggest snack and traditional Russian food, also on reasonable price.
One advice: it’s better to get up early and be at vernisage in the morning ( opens at 10:00 ) Close to noon and after noon more people and… less discounts :)
From city center to Partizanskaya is around 25 min by metro + 10 min from the station to the vernissage.
even if you are not going to buy anythig - visit this undergraund - just take a look at the map of the world on the calotte
What to buy: you can buy here everything, if you have some money shure :) that place is not cheap at all...
What to pay: Depend
3, Red Square, Moscow, Russia
Working hours: Mo-Su 10:00 –22:00
What to buy: Classic Russian pieces : Matreshka (see my Russia tips «Local customs» more),
Easter egg ,
Zhestovo – tray
What to pay: Depend
Unic 19-th centery building (1890—1893) "Perlov house". The Perlov company had 14 tea houses in Moscow (88 in Europe) before revolution 1917.
In 1896 was redecorated in traditional chainise style.
What to buy: Tea, coffee, chocolad, kakao
There is a big art and souvenir market at Ismailovo Park, near the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Vega hotel complex at weekends. It's quite touristy, selling Soviet-era memorabilia, fur hats traditional Russian dolls, paintings, books and posters etc.
I'm not a great souvenir hunter, so wasn't tempted, but I did find a cafe serving pelmeni at very reasonable prices for lunch!
GUM makes for a fun stop while in the main square of Moscow. Most shops inside are those high end shops such as Gucci and many others that I have never heard of, but all have very posh windows with beautiful people going in and out. Moscow was the last stop on our Viking River Cruise and I really did not want to tour the Kremlin, so Mom and I walked around GUM for an hour---they have a small cafe at one end where we sat and had a glass of wine. The architecture is marvelously intricate---looks like an old train station in a way.
What to buy: Gifts, clothes, shoes
What to pay: $$$$$
The Izmaylovo Market is probably Moscow's biggest and most famous market area. You get almost everything here, from all kindss of souvenirs and handicrafts to antiques and carpets.
Prices are said to be cheaper than in the city centre. Of course bargaining is expected. Apart from that Izmaylovo Market has many food stalls with local fast food.
The market is open daily from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. and weekends seem to be the best time for a visit.
The Izmaylovo Market is located northeast of the city centre (metro: Izmaylovskiy Park, blue line). When coming out of the metro station you see five blocks of the Izmaylovo hotel complex which was built for the 1980 Olympics. Just follow the crowds to the market.
The Arbat street is famous tourist trap in Moscow for buying souvenirs, but there is one really good shop left from communist time. It is located on Arbat street 27 and its name is Arbatskaya Lavitsa. It is opened daily from 9 am to 9 pm. They accept major credit cards. Entrance is on the corner of the building.
Then I need to buy some souvenirs as gifts for my foreign friends I come here mostly. Well it is little bit more expensive (only for some items) then famous Smolenskiy Passage but quality is much more better and there is not risk that something will have defects and you can return it in 2 weeks.
They have much more wider choice of Russian goods then Smolenskiy Passage has, it is a big shop and you can do shopping there 12 month a year. Smolenskiy Passage is not very pleasant place in wintertime and during working days half of the kiosks are closed.
I was over in Moscow for a 2-day conference and didn't have much time for shopping, although since it was my first time over there, I definitely wanted to buy some souvenirs for my family and friends, as I've heard of many nice Russian crafts before. Prices at Sheremetyevo airport have put me in shock. And after I saw the prices in Metropol hotel gift store, I have almost abandoned that idea.
Luckily, I ran across a flyer of InnShopping among the rack card stand - they've advertised an online store that sells Russian arts and crafts, tickets to theatre events and some other services, and offer free hotel delivery and convenient payment options. Although I found it a weird way to advertise an e-store, I checked it out and quite honestly liked what I saw. A pretty professional website with limited but interesting choice of souvenirs and good selection of gift books, photo albums and DVDs with films on Moscow.
I wanted to pay with a credit card but wouldn't trust it to a foreign website - well, they offered me to pay with a credit card after delivery of product. Delivery guy was very friendly and spoke pretty good English, he had a portable POS to run a credit card transaction, and the souvenirs were nicely and securely wrapped, I was not afraid to put a porcelain Gzhel penny bank in the luggage, and it made it home safe.
It seems that the store is ery young, but it's a really handy idea for business travellers like myself, and I enjoyed their service.
What to buy: Lacquered miniature jewel boxes are really nice - although beware the fake ones! And they're pretty expensive as well.
Russian dolls, easter eggs, birch bark items and Khokhloma are obvious choices.
Gzhel procelain is also pretty special, although there are probably better and cheaper offerings in China or other eastern asian countries.
One thing I was really impressed with were filigree - glass handlers, spoons, jewel boxes made of thin silver wire. Those look really gorgeous! Sometimes they come with enamel inserts the Russians call Finift (sp?) - but those items are really expensive. And they come in a nice wooden gift box, so that makes for a perfect executive present.
What to pay: Birchbark and khokhloma items are not very expensive, most of them are under $50.
If you want something original though like filigree or lacquered box - prepare to spend between $75-200.
1) The Vernisage near Izmailovsky Park on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Go with a local, or prepare to haggle hard with limited usage of words.
My tip: avoid most of the sellers who set up stall closest to the entrance or who immediately approach you in English. Absolutely avoid stalls that sell total rubbish like Gorby or Putin matryoshkas.
2) Arbatskaya Lavitsa, 27 old Arbat street. From what I know it's either run by the State or by someone who doesn't pay the employees on commission. Me and my GF spent hours in there and were never, I mean never approached by someone trying to forcibly sell us something. Their selection of crafts is immense (Gzhel, shawls, Rostov finift', Pavloposad trays, Belomorskie wood carvings, amber, etc). When you actually want something, you let yourself be seen by the clerk and they will very courteously take the item out and show it to you. Their English is mostly basic but very sufficient. Prices are clearly marked and there is no haggling or discounts.
What to buy: Vernisage:
- hip flasks with various logos,
- military watches (there's a good shop on the extreme right edge of the market),
- fur hats (haggle hard, aim for maximum 100 dollars)
- wood crafts, e.g. Hohloma
- police hats (the warm variety)
- Shawls or wool crafts, price permitting
- Amber or any other type of jewelry
- Belomor carved wood plates
What to pay: 30-50 USD for the watches, less than 10 USD for hip flasks, ~100 USD for fur hats.
Gum is a venerable building and shopping center. It was a shopping center even during the Soviet era, and has survived the change from state-controlled economy to capitalism. The center has 3 levels of arcades. You will find both western and Russian shops, from expensive designer goods to affordable stuff. There are several cafes and restaurants inside the building. The roof is made of glass.
Detsky Mir (Kids’ World) is very logically the youngest in the popular Soviet era consumer triangle comprising the much older and respectable GUM and TsUM.
It was the biggest store in Europe when opened June 05, 1957 with the overall space of 54 000 sq.m, and still ranks # 1 on the continent as goods for kids go.
Their Russian language site claims quite a few accomplishments, among them having introduced tights when more conservative retailers still stuck to stockings and garters.
No English language site, and unlikely to get any in the nearest future.
This is the latest work of the architect whose name I don’t hope you will remember; he worked a lot for the Moscow metro – just name Kropotkinskaya, one of my favourite.
Now under reconstruction until God knows when and will in all probability emerge as God knows what.
See how it looked I saw it last
For more information try MAPS, though I haven’t seen much activity on their site lately.
Old photos courtesy www.archnadzor.ru
TsUm is the second ‘grand’ of the traditional Moscow retail, and it lives up to its mark, and even higher.
I pass by the place now and then as my dentist happens to be located nearby, and I’ve got to say, they are going swell. Another wing added with an attempt for an Art Deco entrance, and I even spotted a uniformed doorman. Numerous shop assistants, few customers. Never went so far as to adjust my glasses to their prices.
TsUM (The Central Department Store) – opened 1857 as ‘Muir & Mirrielees’. Andrew Muir and Archibald Mirrielees, two Scottish enterprisers in search for emerging markets – an enormous success until not so well-off Russians had enough of it.
Open 10 – 22 Monday – Saturday, 11 – 22 Sunday
What to buy: Prada, Armani Collezioni, Donna Karan, Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent and the brands I never heard of - 6267, Temperley, Vera Wang, David Szeta, Ru du Mail, Zac Pozen
What to pay: Forget it
Nice to visit. A wonderful building. It's now the kingdom of the luxury shops
What to pay: Moscow gives here the eveidence that it's one of the world's most expensive city ! Totally unaffordable... for me at least !