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GUM - the main department store of Russia

The upper trading rows or modern GUM was Europe's largest shopping arcade. The building in the neo-Russian style was built in a record time for the end of the 19th century - in just three years. Moreover, architects had only three months for development and presentation of the project on a competitive basis! The main condition was the preservation of the architectural harmony of the main Moscow square, because the GUM is located just opposite the Kremlin building.

Even if you are not going to shop in the boutiques of the most famous world brands which are represented in GUM, we recommend visiting this architectural monument. In addition, it is in the TOP 10 recommended sights of Moscow according to the versions of famous magazines and travel blogs!

Where is the country's main store located?

GUM occupies an entire quarter of Kitai Gorod and faces Red Square.

The store is open for visitors daily from 10.00 to 22.00.

The exact address is Red Square, building #3.

Nearest metro stations: Teatralnaya, Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolyutsii.

History of creation

Historical materials indicate that shopping areas on Red Square already existed in the 17th century. At that time, the stores were located between Nikolskaya Street and Ilyinka,  and looked like a long two-story building and wooden trade shops  in which fires often occurred  since they used homemade stoves.

In 1815, a new building was built for the shopping arcade whose architect was Osip Beauvais. The building was divided between private owners. However, over time, the building needed to be renovated. Due to the owners' disagreement, a single agreement was not reached. Over time, the building fell into disrepair and once a customer even fell through a rotten floor and broke her leg.

Only in 1869, on the initiative of the Moscow Governor-General, the issue on demolition of old trade rows and construction of new ones was raised. In 1880, the City Duma obliged shop owners to create the Upper Trading Rows joint-stock company.

In November 1888, the board of the company announced an all-Russian competition for the best design of the Upper Trading Rows building. After 3 months, the commission began to consider projects. The best project was selected from 23 projects and its author was Alexander Pomerantsev.

According to his design, the building was supposed to represent the intersection of three horizontal and vertical passages.

The building was laid in May 1890. The Upper Trading Rows were built for a record period for that time -just for 2.5 years. The grand opening took place on December 14, 1893.

The building was divided between merchants into salons with chic furniture and rich finishes. Almost all groups of food and industrial products are located in 322 departments of the store.

The upper shopping arcade has become not only a place for shopping. People came here for a walk, relax and have some fun. However, after the revolution in 1917, trade in the building was stopped - the People's Commissariat of Food was here.

In the 1920s, during the so-called New Economic Policy (NEP), the malls began to be leased. But in 1930, GUM was closed for one more time. Its territory was used to host ministries and departments. And only on December 24, 1953 GUM was reconstructed and opened to the public. The assortment of goods totaled more than 30,000 items and it was the largest store in the USSR.

In 1985, the next reconstruction of the building ended. In 1990, GUM was transformed into a joint stock company, and since 1996 into the open joint stock company «GUM Trading House».

At the moment, the majority stake is held by Bosco di Ciliegi, one of the leaders in the Russian luxury clothing market, which has a lease agreement until 2059.

Interesting and unusual facts

  • The glass roof of GUM - the result of the genius of engineer Vladimir Shukhov - was an innovation of its time. The roof seems almost weightless, despite the fact that it is based on a metal frame weighing 800000 kg;
  • Price tags invented by an American entrepreneur Frank Vultor began to be used in the GUM in Russia for the first time. This led to the fact that Muscovites lost their fun to bargain with sellers but sellers could not sell goods at inflated prices anymore;
  • In 1935, according to the Master Plan for the Reconstruction of Moscow, Red Square was to be expanded due to the demolition of GUM. In the same years, the Moscow leadership planned to build a construction of the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry. Rumor said that even under Brezhnev there were plans to demolish GUM, but the case intervened: the wife of a high-ranking party functionary ordered dresses in the local atelier and urged her husband to intervene and leave GUM alone;
  • In 2012, a historical museum-toilet was opened in GUM, which can be used for its intended purpose. Exactly the same toilet was located here before the Revolution, but the Bolsheviks broke it, considering it a bourgeois relic. The restroom was restored according to historical drawings and descriptions of contemporaries. Here you can even take a shower, swaddle a child, brush your teeth and shave;

  • In 2012 the abbreviation "GUM" was recognized as a trademark so now GUM is the only unique store even on paper.

What is worth visiting in GUM?

  •  Grocery store No. 1 with design, clothes of sellers and presence in the assortment of some classic goods of the Soviet era of the 1950-1960s. The famous fountain in GUM which has become one of the favorite meeting places of Muscovites. It appeared here in 1906, although it was laid down in the original project. The technical system of the fountain is unique and was created specifically for placement in the building of the Upper Trading Rows. Initially, it looked different and had a round base, built according to a complex design scheme, similar to those used in the construction of domes of churches. In 1953 it was decided to change it to an octagon.

  • Artificial ice rink where you can skate even in bad weather.

  • The famous fountain in GUM which has become one of the favorite meeting places of Muscovites. It appeared here in 1906, although it was laid down in the original project. The technical system of the fountain is unique and was created specifically for placement in the building of the Upper Trading Rows. Initially, it looked different and had a round base, built according to a complex design scheme, similar to those used in the construction of domes of churches. In 1953 it was decided to change it to an octagon.
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