This comprehensive travel guide will lead you through Moscow far beyond its postcard attractions

Souvenirs and gifts

Matryoshka dolls. Originally, these sets of wooden dolls of decreasing size depicted Russian girls and women wearing traditional dresses. Now the market also offers images of political leaders, cinema stars and other famous people. The smallest three-piece doll costs from RUR 150.

Palekh artwork. Palekh is a village east of Moscow famous for its icon painters since the 17th century. After the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, local artists shifted to secular themes and developed their own technique of tempera painting on papier-mâché boxes, trays, broches and other items. Prices start from around RUR 1,000 for a simple original box.

Gzhel pottery. This style also originates from a region east of Moscow. Since the 16th century, the pottery was produced there, although for pharmacies only. In early 1800s, the first semi-porcelain manufacturing was established in the region and most cups, mugs, teapots, pitchers and other items have been decorated in blue paint. Prices start from several hundred roubles per item.

Pavlovo-Posd shawls. Patterns of these colourful woollen shawls, scarves and other textile products combine Russian and Turkish motifs. The cheapest original scarves costs over RUR 1,000.

Shapka. The word ‘shapka’ has several meanings in the Russian language. In terms of the Moscow’s souvenir market, it is a traditional Russian headwear made of fur and usually decorated with a military insignia. Souvenir markets and shops usually sell shapkas made of artificial fur or cheap rabbit fur at RUR 500 and more. For a high-quality shapka, visit a descent department store.

Samovar. Literally, this Russian word may be translated into English as “a device which boils water itself”. If fact, you need to put fuel into it (traditional models) or plug it in and switch it on (electric samovars). Most Russian households use electric kettles but some of them keep a samovar as a decoration.

самоварSome cafes and restaurants in Moscow keep samovars to attract clients.

Vodka. Despite a vast variety of labels and a wide range of prices, most vodkas marketed in Moscow are nothing but water and ethanol mixture, usually 40 ABV (80 US proof). Presently, Russian vodkas are made of high-quality alcohol and may be "either good or very good," the locals say. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side and avoid fake products, buy vodka at licensed supermarkets where prices start from RUR 230 for a half-litre bottle (the government-imposed minimum.)

Caviar. Some sources say that harvesting of black (beluga, ossetra and sevruga) caviars is banned in Russia, and all such products in the country are illegal. It is not exactly true. In fact, poachers control a considerable market share, but high-end supermarkets in Moscow sell legally produced caviar. Be ready to pay around RUR 5,000 and more for a 100-gram jar.

The most popular place to buy souvenirs in Moscow is Arbat Street where you may combine shopping with sightseeing. Start from metro Smolenskaya, line 3, navy blue, or or Arbatskaya, line 4, light blue. Mind that the same-name stations on other lines are rather far from Arbat Street.

suv2Souvenirs are rather expensive at the Sparrow Hills viewing deck and at other tourist attractions.

Another option is the flea market at the Kremlin in Izmailovo, the biggest in Moscow, which offers a wider choice and somewhat lower prices. Metro Partizanskaya (line 3, navy blue.)

Most major department stores and museums also have souvenir shops.



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