Prospekt Kalinina, Tverskaya Street and Gorky Street are three of the main shopping avenues. Some stores big have Western-style signs. Others have Soviet-era names like "Book Store N. 34" or "Shoe Store No. 6," and "Milk" written in Cyrillic. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the areas around Metro stations became places for traders and street vendors to operate. Many stalls and kiosks had their own neon lights. There were snack sellers, record stores, hot dog stands and pancake vendors and even sex shops, In the mid 2000s, Moscow’s mayor made a law that such businesses, with exception of stands selling newspapers and theater tickets, had to be at least 23 meters away from the Metro station. The legislation also banned sex shops from the city center.

For the Western consumers, the availability of food and household products is now almost on par with the West. When American brands are not available locally, a European equivalent can usually be purchased. Vendors other than Russian stores and markets include Western outlets such as Stockmann. Bennetton has a 21,500-square-foot megastore in Moscow. Other brand name retailers have similar-sized outlets.

When Ikea opened in the Moscow suburbs in 2000 it was big news. The enormous store attracts 20,000 customers a day. In 2001, its sales account for on tenth of the volume of sales of the 163 Ikea stores worldwide. Near the Ikea store there is a monument that shows the farthest advance of German army in World War II.

Markets in Moscow

According to Cities of the World: “Some visitors do a lot of shopping at local "rynoks" These are open-air farmers' markets located in different parts of the city, typically near metro stations. Rynoks carry a large selection of fresh bread and seasonal as well as imported fresh produce. Meat is also available for purchase, but buying fresh, unrefrigerated meat is risky. Rynoks often have stalls that stock non-food items, such as cleaning products, soft drinks and liquor, health care products, pet food and paper goods at prices that are cheaper than in the other stores. In many instances the quality of the products tends to be lower. Larger rynoks also sell flowers, plants, clothing items, and leather goods. Be aware, however, that shopping in rynoks can pose challenges, including the need to maneuver through crowded spaces and language problems for non-Russian speakers. Bargaining is an accepted and common practice at rynoks but not at conventional stores and supermarkets, where prices are marked. [Source: Cities of the World, Gale Group Inc., 2002, from a 2000 Department of State report]

Izmailovo Park (Outer East, 10 kilometers east of the Kremlin, Izmailovsky Park Metro Station) is large undeveloped park with woodlands and open spaces. It features a popular weekend flea market that began as open-air fair in glastnost and peristroika period, when unofficial artists and craftsmen were first allowed to display their work. Some artists still display their work here.

The huge flea market, known as Vernisaj Market, cover the size of a football field and features more than 500 vendors selling Azerbaijani carpets, antique icons, World War II helmets, copper samovars, Soviet crystal, old books, American team baseball hats, matryoshka dolls, Chinese thermoses, amber necklaces, and lacquer boxes. You can also get porcelain tea services, fur hats, padded vests, quilts, antiques, handcrafts, fake icons, musical instruments, heavy iron church keys, Soviet period kitsch items, hand-painted tin soldiers, wooden toys, carved chess sets, Lenin and Stalin posters, Soviet watches, and T-shirts.

Gorbushka Open-Air Market (northwest edge of Moscow) is located in a wooded park. Russians flock here to buy pirated software, videotapes and compact discs at ridiculously low prices. Danilovsky Market is a real collective farmer market with fruit from the Caucasus, spices from Central Asia, meat from local livestock and fish from the Arctic and the Baltic. Caviar used be sold by the kilogram.

Farmer’s Market (southwest of Moscow) is an interesting place to check out the patchwork of nationalities that make up Russia. Even with the breakup of the empire skull-capped Uzbekis men and Armenian and Georgian women in colorful scarves come to sell fruits, vegetables and flowers. Many of these items are short in supply in the Moscow area and are eyed enviously and snapped up despite their high prices by the Russian customers.

Pet Market (Inner South East) was notorious pet market, also known as the Bird Market, where almost any creature could be obtained from dogs and cats to chimpanzees and pythons. The market was closed down in 2002 on the grounds the conditions were unsanitary. The gates were welded shut. The Moscow mayor offered an alternative site far from city center.

Major Shopping Areas in Moscow

Crocus City (in Krasnogorsk, a northwestern suburb of Moscow) is a huge shopping complex with more than 200 luxury stores. It is so big that customers can move around from place to place in electric carts. One survey in the mid 2000s found that the average shopper spent US$560 on clothes and shoes during each outing. Among the businesses there are a Ferrari dealership. There is also a wine museum, waterfalls, a tropical forest, a water ballet, 15 high-rise office buildings, a helipad, a 1000-room hotel, a 16-screen movie theater, 215,00-square-foot casino, a yacht mooring terminal, and an exhibition of yachts.

Afimall City (in Moscow City, 4 kilometers west of Red Square, just east of the Third Ring Road) is a large shopping and entertainment center and is the central nucleus of the largest investment business project in Europe — the International Business Center "Moscow City". This is a unique project in Russia that combines innovative architectural solutions and multifunctional infrastructure. Here you can find not only extensive shopping, but 50 restaurants and cafes and numerous entertainment opportunities such as "Formula Kino", a multiplex cinema with theaters using 4D and 5D technology, and the first IMAX theater in central Moscow.

Stoleshnikov Lane is a pedestrian-only street linking Petrovka and Tverskaya Street. A major high-end shopping area, it offers a wide selection of name-brand products, luxury boutiques, and gourmet restaurants with the corresponding prices. There are also some not-so-expensive clothes shops and cafes. The street is a nice place stroll and window shop. In the winter you warm up with the winter glinveynom or coffee or tea with rum. The main historical attraction — the oldest building there — is the Church of the Annunciation of Cosmas and Damian in Shubin, built in 1625. Stoleshnikov crosses Dmitrovka, which also mainly pedestrianized and has a choice of shops and restaurants.

Chamberlain Lane is a pedestrian zone in the heart of Moscow, where Tver passes to the Big Dmitrovka, near the "peshehodka” on Kuznetsky Most. Great writers, artists, composers and actors such as Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Theophile Gautier, Nikolai Nekrasov, Athanasius Fet, Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lyubov Orlova lived and worked here. Now it is pleasant to walk around, checking out the great monuments and numerous shops, cafes and restaurants. Among the well-known architectural monuments found here are the apartment house Tolmachevo built in 1891, the estate Odoevskogo, which now houses the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, the estate Streshnevs and the Chevalier Hotel, dating to the first half of the 19th century.

Nikolskaya (between Red Square and the Lubyanka Square) is a completely pedestrianized street with shops, restaurants, bars and cafés. Along the street are many benches, beautiful lights, and granite paving stones, on which people walk. At the end of the path from the Lubyanka is a breathtaking view of the Kremlin.

Petrovka Ulitsa (City Center) lies at the center of a major shopping district. TsUM, once, the second largest department store after GUM, is located here. The building was built in 1909 by a Scottish company. Petrovsky Passazh at No. 10 is a modern shopping mall.

Tretyakovsky Passage (in Kitay-Gorod, running from building 4 on Teatralny Proezd and to buildings 19 and 21 on Nikolskaya Street) is one of the more interesting shopping areas in Moscow. It was built in the 1870s by the philanthropist Tretyakov brothers as the only trade street in Moscow created by private means. Designed by the architect on the site of an earlier passage, it housed private shops and branches of major companies were in the 1870s. The commercial hall of William Gaby was famous for its watches and jewelry. Continuing this tradition, modern Tretyakovsky Passage is full of shops and boutiques, and is one of the most expensive places for shopping in Moscow — at the same level as Stoleshnikov Pereulok.


Arbat (Inner Southwest, Arbatskaya Metro Station) is a lively 1½-kilometer-long, pedestrian-only street filled with cafés, fortunetellers, sushi bars and pubs that sell beer with a shot of vodka thrown in. The are also outdoor displays of works by local artists and craftsmen and shops selling dolls, amber jewelry, lacquer boxes, Soviet coins, flags, and McLenin T-shirts, with Lenin's profile in front of the golden arches.

Arbat has been center of youth culture and a kind of Muscovite version of Greenwich Village since the 1960s. There used to be lots of young people walking around and gathered in groups. It is a good place to check out Russian punks and heavy metal rockers as well as street musicians and performers. Sometimes there are dancing bears and camels, with which tourist can have their photograph taken. Arbat still attracts some young people but now is regarded as more of a tourist haven.

The buildings bristle with loggias, balconies and baroque adornments and touches of red, green and ocher. There are a variety of small attractions, including a wax museum with Soviet leaders, mansions, a home of a famous architect. At one end is the Foreign Affairs Ministry, one of the seven Stalinist buildings in Moscow.

Old Arbat is one of the oldest streets in Moscow. Every house has a unique own story. In the 18th century, nobles, including Golitsyn and Tolstoy families, lived on the Arbat,. In the 20th century, it was the home to poets such as Tsvetaeva, Balmont. Old Arbat runs from the Arbatskie Vorota Square to Smolenskaya Square. Many historical buildings have been restored. Some house shops, restaurants and cafes. There are many benches where you can relax, people watch and absorb the atmosphere. Among the places were checking out are the Praha restaurant, the Literary Mansion (formerly Parisien Cinema), the House of the Society of Russian Doctors, Perfume Museum, Illusion Museum, Museum of Corporal Punishment, the Vakhtangov Theater, the House with Knights (aka the House of the Actor), the Haunted House, the wall in memory of Viktor Tsoi, Bulat Okudzhava’s house, and apartment of the famed pet A.S. Pushkin.

In The Soviet era famous poets, writers, artists and other cultural figures used to gather at the Praha (Prague) restaurant, known before the revolution for it gorgeous kitchen and as a place that sold specialties that couldn’t be found anywhere in Moscow. In house No. 53 Pushkin celebrated his bachelor party before marrying Natalya Goncharova and spent his honeymoon there. The famous poets: Blok, Esenin and Okudzhava spent a lot of time in Arbat and Isadora Duncan did her incomparable dances here. People like to take photos at the monument to Bulat Okudzhava.

Kuznenetsky Most and Chistye Prudy

Kuznenetsky Most replaced Arbat as the hip, trendy place in Moscow in the mid 2000s. On it and the streets off of it are numerous restaurants, cafes, bars, bookstores, boutiques and places with trendy fashions. Many of the buildings are significant historically or architecturally. Among the main attractions rather short Kuznetsky Most Street: Passage Popov Trading house Khomyakov, Kuznetsk passage Solodovnikov Theater, Tretyakov apartment house, Manor Myasoedova, passage of San Galli, Tver town house, apartment house Prince Gagarin. Always former shopping and entertainment, is now Kuznetsky not ceased to be so. But the pedestrian street was relatively recently, in 2012. Now it often hosts various concerts and festivals.

Kuznetsky crosses Rozhdestvenka, too pedestrian, and one end rests on the Big Dmitrovka on which the traffic is also limited. Crossing Dmitrovka, Kuznetskii ceases to be a pedestrian, becoming Chamberlain lane and thus forming a pedestrian route several kilometers long.

Chistye Prudy (Clean Ponds) is a historic place with stores, restaurants and businesses. Long ago ago butchers from Myasnitskaya Street threw their wastes into a large stinking puddles (the source of the name ponds) that poisoned everything around it. According to to one story the Duke Dolgoruky killed a disobedient boyar Kuchka by drowning him in the foul water. In 1703, Menshikov Alexander, a minion of Peter the Great, bought a small house here and insited the area be cleaned up. The pond was cleaned (the source of the name Clean).

Manezh Square Shopping Mall

Manezh Square Shopping Mall (off of Red Square, near the Kremlin, accessible via the Okhotny Riad and Ploschad Revolyutsii metro stations) is an ambitious new US$340 million, 82,000-square-meter underground business and shopping complex with offices, stores and banks. Near Alexandrovsky Garden, it is one of Europe's largest shopping mall. Young people like to hang out at the fountain with bronze sculpture that illustrates Pushkin’s fairy tales.

Manezhnaya Square is often crowded. Many events and celebrations are held here. The square runs along Mokhovaya and Manezhnaya (same-named to the Square) Streets. Under Manezhnaya Square is the“Okhotny Riad” shopping area. Manezhnaya Square is one of the biggest squares in the city. It has a 500-year history. Here in the 15th century tradesmen gathered to conduct business. “Manezh” means building. It was given that name after a structure built here in 1817 to the 5th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon’s army. [Source: Russian Tourism Official Website]

The Present-day appearance of Manezhnaya Square dates to 1932-1938 when a residential quarter on Neglinnaya Street was demolished in make way for a subway. The name Manezhnaya Square dates 1931. In the Soviet era it was renamed to “50 Years Anniversary of October Square”. In the 1990s its previous name was restored. From 1940 until 1990 the Square was empty and served as a huge parking place for tourists’ buses. Modern building development began in 1993 according to a project designed of M.M.Posokhin and Z.K.Ceretelli. The underground trading center “Okhotny Riad” took seven years to build.

The Roof of the shopping center features a glass dome that symbolizes part of the globe. Over the dome stands a sculpture of Saint George. Fountains and horses embellish the Square. The fountains were constructed in 1996 in honor of the 850th anniversary of Moscow. In the 1990s, the Voskresensky Gates, which were demolished in 1930s, were restored. The monument to Marshal Zhukov was erected to honor the 50th anniversary of the victory in The Great Patriotic War (World War II). The monument is now a popular meeting place. In 1993, a the “Zero Kilometer” marker was placed on Manezhnaya Square, making it central point of al of Russia. here is a custom that if you throw a coin here, it wil bring you good luck and you will come to the city again.

Tverskaya Ulitsa

Tverskaya Ulitsa (beginning at Red Square) is Moscow's main commercial district. Described by David Remnick as "the ground zero of Russian neo-capitalism," it is filled with neon signs, pedestrians, trendy nightclubs and restaurants, flashy boutiques and branches for the likes of Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Armani, and Dolce & Gabbana. Some shops are filled with jeweled and mink-clad beautiful women and will stay open into the wee hours of the night to accommodate them.

Tverskaya Ulitsa (Boulevard) was the most fashionable street in the Tsarist era. The food stores here supplied the Tsars. Tolstoy lost a fortune playing cards in the English Club. It was the first street on which stagecoaches ran (1820). Russia’s first asphalt road was made here (1876). It is also where Russia’s electric lights were installed. In the Soviet era, the English Club became the Central Museum of the Revolution Food Store No. 1. still had chandeliers.

Tverskoy Ulitsa is 872 meters in length and runs from the Nikitsky Gates to the Pushkin Square. It begins as a kind of extension of Red Square and continues for about two kilometers (1½ miles) — partly under a different name — to the Boulevard Ring (Bol Sadonaya Ulitsa) and then becomes Tverskaya-Yamkaya Ulista and continues for another two kilometers to the Garden Ring at Belorussia Station. Around the National and Intourist Hotels are a number of classy shops. Bolshaya Bronnaya Street is on the left. Around Pushkin Square is Russia’s first McDonalds, at one time the world's busiest, and the former offices of Investia and Trud. The main attractions of the street are the National Hotel, Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, Central Telegraph, Tverskaya Square and City Hall, Yeliseyev Grocery Store, Alexander Pushkin Monument, the English Club and Triumph Square.

History of Tverskaya Ulitsa

Tverskaya ( Tverskaya Street) is one of the main streets in Moscow and one of its oldest. The first mention of it is in the 12th century. It began as a road from the Kremlin to Tver and St. Petersburg and houses, farms, hotels, churches and chapels were built along it..

In 1796, Tverskoy Boulevard was simply called Boulevard. But due to its nearness to White Town, its famous wall and medieval ancient Tverskaya Street, the road was named Tverskoy Boulevard. The raod sites where the wall once stood. After the wall was destroyed in summer 1796, boulevard was set up according to a design by the architect Karin. E had the bold idea of planting linden trees rather birches because the birches planted earlier didn’t survived. Afterwards both deciduous and coniferous trees were planted. [Source: Russian Tourism Official Website]

Russia’s first traffic jams appeared here. Noblemen, who likes to walk among fountains and greenery of the Tverskoy Boulevard, blocked the entrance with their carriages at the Strastnaya Square. Poets wrote about the boulevard and writers included its in their novels. The poet Volkonsky condemned the upper classes in his vitriolic “boulevards” poems. Many the of classical-style buildings built in Tsarist era remain today. At the end of the 19th century, the first modern style buildings were built. When the French captured Moscow in 1812 and managed they set up a military camp and cut down the trees. After Napoleon was driven out the fountains and trees were restored.

The Pushkin Monument, now one of Moscow’s favorite meeting places, was erected in 1880. The funds were raised by donations and petitions. Famous writers of that time gave speeches to help raise money. Even writers that hated each other like Turgenev and Dostoevsky came to together for the grand opening of the Monument. Later the monument was relocated to Pushkin Square. Also in 1880, a horse tramway was opened on Tverskoy Boulevard. Even people of modest means could get around on this tram. A few decades later one of Russia’s earliest motorized tram was opened here. The boulevard was also famous for it book fairs.

Until 1917, Tverskaya was a rather narrow, curvey street. After the October Revolution it was decided it was time to change it. In 1935, a Moscow reconstruction plan was adopted and one of its top priorities was reshaping Tverskaya street. The street was straightened and widened. Many buildings were demolished. An important monastery was situated in the place where the Pushkin. Monument now stands. Other buildings were moved. Many buildings on Tverskaya date to the Khrushchev era and were designed by the architect Arkady Mordvinians, who wanted to make the street a model of Soviet design.

GUM Department Store

GUM Department Store (on the side of Red Square opposite the Kremlin) is the largest department store in Russia. Occupying a vast 19th century Victorian structure, it has gone through an incredible transformation since it was privatized in 1993. In the Soviet era, it was known for its long lines, shortages of things people wanted and plentiful supplies of things nobody wanted.

The GUM of today is a modern shopping complex with 1,000 different shops and emporiums that sell a wide variety of Russian-made and foreign goods. After being neglected for 70 years, the building was refurbished in the mid 1990s with stuccoed archways, curved staircases, pedestrian bridges and shops like Galleries Lafayette, Esté Lauder, Levis, Revlon, Christian Dior, Bennetton and Yves Rocher. The prices are higher than those in the United States.

GUM (pronounced "goom") stands for Gosudarstveniy Universalniy Magazin. It is a two-story arcade with fountains and thousands of shoppers, many from outside of Moscow looking for items they can't find back home. The atmosphere of GUM isn't all that different from large shopping mall in The West.

Attractions in and around the GUM complex include the GUM-skating rink (open every day from November to March), an outdoor skating rink on Red Square with an area of 3000 square meters, a capacity of 500 people and warm dressing rooms, a café and skate rental and sharpening services; the Fountain in GUM, a popular meeting place (“By the fountain in GUM” is a phrase familiar to most Muscovites); the Cinema Hall of GUM, a nostalgic cinema located on the third line on the third floor of GUM. The GUM lies at the heart of the Christmas Fair on Red Square.

History of GUM Department Store

GUM got its start in the 1880s, when it was known as the Upper Trading Rows, where vendors set up wooden carts to hawk their wares. Later it became the worlds first indoor mall. The roots of the store go back to the 17th century when brisk trade was carried out near the Red Square. At that times trade was conducted in trading rows. GUM is the result of the placement of upper trading rows in a two-storey building, long enough and located in the close proximity to the Red Square. Wooden shops place around the building often caught fire, especially in the winter when people tried to warm themselves with makeshift stoves.

After the great fire during the Patriotic War the trade rows were once again rebuilt. New building was functionally divided into a several parts, but due to the fact that owners constantly argued over the need for further renovation work and didn’t do anything, the buildings quickly became worthless. In one case, a woman who came to buy a dress fell through the floor because of a broken wooden board and broke her leg. However, nothing was done This incident, however, nothing was done. At the end of the 19th century, over the objections of owners, old buildings were removed. A contest for the project of constructing a new GUM was announced and project created by Alexander Pomerantsev prevailed. In may 1880 the cornerstone was laid. Two years later the new, safe shopping center opened.

The new building followed the old principle of dividing the building into the parts according to their owners and trades. But in the new setting what had been simple tiny shops were now fashionable salons. In the 322 different departments of the three-storey building one could find almost everything, including elegant silk, expensive furs, perfume and cakes. There were also bank departments, workshops, post office, restaurants and other service departments. Exhibitions and music evenings were organized and GUM became a place one went to often and spent a lot of time.

After Russian Revolution in 1917, GUM was closed for some time, Trade was allowed in the times of New Economic Police (NEP), but in the 1930s it was prohibited again, and the building housed different ministries and agencies. In 1935 there some some discussion of destroying the building in order to extend the Red Square. Luckily these plans never materialized. GUM was reconstructed two more times: in 1953 and in 1985.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.

Updated in September 2020

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