The quirky Izmailovsky market is the most beautiful market place in Moscow and probably the world. There is so much more to do than just shopping: there are wooden churches, a large pond and different museums. You could easily spend half a day there.
Although it looks like a well preserved historical area, it was actually completed 2007. Izmailovsky market is a cultural and entertainment complex built to imitate the Russian architecture of the 18th century.
Izmailovo market (also called Izmailovsky vernisazh or Izmaylovskiy Bazar) is enclosed inside a beautiful and intricately decorated kremlin. The word kremlin is Russian for fortress, usually to protect an area or a city. The most famous kremlin is in Red square, however the one at Izmailovsky is purely for decoration.
The bridge leading up to the Kremlin is the best place to take a photo. With the towers, unusual shapes and bright colours, it looks like it belongs in a Russian fairytale.
Izmailovsky market is the perfect place to do some souvenir shopping because the prices are lower than most of Moscow. Especially if you want to buy a Russian doll (Matryoshka doll) some are painted with St Basils Cathedral in the centre, others include cartoon characters and even President Putin. There is also lots of old soviet memorabilia.
Most stalls do not have a card machine so make sure you take enough cash for all of your shopping. I was so busy shopping that I forgot to take a photo of the souvenir stands!
Church of St Nicholas
The Church of St Nicholas is the tallest wooden church in Moscow. Although it looks authentic it is a replica that was built in the year 2000. It is a popular place for weddings and includes relics of the patron saints of lovebirds (Peter and Fevronia).
Even though it is a replica we loved seeing an example of early Russian wooden architecture. Especially because we did not have time to visit the churches of Kizhi island.
We were surprised to find that there are lots of museums inside Izmailovo market. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look around any, but will definitely visit them next time we are in Russia.
The Museum of the History of Russian Vodka had a very official and old looking notice board outside. It stated the 365 reasons that you should drink vodka, incase anyone needs a few more excuses. It has over 1000 exhibits of different sorts of vodka and recipes, as well as the chance to taste different types of vodka.
Museum of Bread has 1000 exhibits of different types of bread and a buffet. But the biggest draw is a workshop where you can bake and decorate gingerbread and learn how to make Russian pancakes.
Museum of Russian Toys offers the chance to paint your own Russian doll which sounds like the perfect souvenir to take home. There is also a range of hand painted traditional dolls on display and interactive exhibits.
There is also the Museum of Moscow Animation and the Soap Making Museum. It is worth checking the opening times if you want to visit a particular museum. Most are only open on a couple of days each week and some are by appointment only.
The best time to visit
The market is open between 09:00 and 18:00 everyday, but if you want more shopping options it is best to go at the weekend as there are more vendors. The best time to visit is in the morning because it is quieter and some vendors leave after lunch.
The market has become more of a tourist destination but early in the morning there are locals hunting for antiques. However not everything being passed off as an antique is genuine. Here is a guide to: Buying souvenirs
How to get there
Izmailovo is out of the city centre. It isn’t possible to walk there, but it is an easy journey on the metro. Take the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line on the metro (this is dark blue or purple on the metro map) to Partizanskaya Station (Партизанская). The journey takes about 20 minutes, then from the station it is only a 10 minute walk. It is easy to spot the quirky kremlin from afar.
Make sure you see my post on a very unique taxi: Red tank taxi in Russia.