There’s no shortage of places to shop in Russia.
What is probably the most famous and most expensive shopping center in Moscow takes up the entire east side of Red Square across from Lenin’s mausoleum, and is known as GUM. The building has housed markets of one sort or another for hundreds of years. The present building was completed in 1893 when its steel framework and glass roof, designed by Aleksander Pomerantsev and Vladimir Shukov, were quite an architectural wonder.
Stalin used the building as a headquarters for state planning. During the days of the Soviet Union, the top floor was a secret clothing store called Section 100 which was open only to the most elite party members.
Other shopping centers around the city are newer but no less extravagant. Looking for a computer cable we were directed to a brand new shopping center with dazzling escalators, glass floors and fish ponds.
The shopping centers and streets are full of shoppers. One would never know that many of those shoppers remember days when shop shelves were empty. The level of prosperity seems very high both in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
My favorite spot for browsing was the Izmaylovo Flea Market which is the best place to find traditional Russian crafts such as the red, gold and black lacquered trays and bowls, matryoshka (nesting) dolls, Russian wool and silk scarves, Gzhel and Uzbeki ceramics.
Even in winter, the huge market is open each weekend and is found in Ismaylovo Park. The flea market is located beside a huge cultural-entertainment complex built in the style of Tsar’s Palace called Kremlin (fort) Izmaylovo.