GUM in Moscow

Address: Moscow, Krasnaya Ploshchad’, 3. 
How to get there: "Ploshchad' Revolyutsii" metro station.
Working Hours: from 10.00 to 22.00.

During the Soviet Era, almost every USSR’s city had a special shopping mall, which was called GUM ("State’s Department Store"). Nowadays, in Moscow there is a store with the same name, although it doesn’t belong to the government and there is no shade of the Soviet past. At the same time Moscow’s GUM is not just a great place to sell and buy, it’s a real tourist attraction, a monument of history and architecture.

A Brief History of GUM

The place near the Red Square was always in highlight, especially the merchants were interested in it. They sold their goods and products here. By the XVII century, most street kiosks and shops looked awful, so the Empress Catherine II decided to erect a building for trade in the classical style. The main developer and the well-known architect, Italia-born, Giacomo Quarenghi created the famous GUM design. Several city’s architects worked on the GUM’s construction, but it was not finished.
The reconstruction of the building of the Upper Trading Rows (the name which preceded GUM) was held under the control of Osip Bove after the 1812 fire. The extensive space of the shop occupied the territory between the Red Square and Vetoshny Proezd (“Vetoshny thoroughfare”).
By the end of the 60s of XIX century the Beauvais’ building looked dilapidated and outdated at that time. They said that the Upper Trading Rows had to be reconstructed. But for a long time, the city’s government could not start the reconstruction, because of the owners of the shops, who were against it. The owners, who owned more than six hundred retail outlets, formed a special commission, which wanted to reconstruct the shopping complex by their own forces. They hoped to get some preferences from the city's government.
There were pointless negotiations between merchants and the Moscow’s government which gave not results for more than two decades. In the end, the city authorities closed The Upper Trading Rows because of their bad and dangerous condition. They moved all shops in the temporary building near the Red Square. It was bad for the merchants, because they lost lots of money, so they agreed to participate in the reconstruction.
In the autumn of 1888 there was a closed competition for the new construction projects. It was selected three design projects by architects – A. N. Pomerantsev, R. I. Klein and A. E. Weber. Many of the presented works were similar in style and layout solutions.

Architectural GUM’s features 

The first brick of the shopping complex was placed in May 21, 1890, and December 2, 1893 there was a grand opening, although the decoration of some of its parts was carried out for another three years.
The construction, which was designed by Pomerantsev was held under the control of engineers V. G. Shukhov, A. F. Loleyt and the architect P. P. Shchekotov. The Upper Trading Rows were placed in parallel to the Kremlin’s walls, and the main entrance was in the central part of the facade, which had an exit to the Red Square.
The interior space was beautiful and light because of using of steel and glass structures. The main part is made as a passage. This type of commercial buildings was typical for European architectural traditions after the second half of XIX century. The space for selling was arranged as the extensive passages with glazed floors. There were 16 buildings on GUM’s territory. They were combined by three longitudinal and three transverse galleries, with streetlights above them.
The external decoration of the GUM is done in pseudo Russian manner with using of traditional Russian Uzoroche elements. The main entrance is decorated with twin towers which perfectly match in style with the State Historical Museum which is located nearby.
In the early 20-ies of XX century the Upper mall rows were renamed into "The State Department Store" (“GUM”). In 34 - 36 years of the same century it was planned to dismantle the building the building and erect a new structure here. The new building was for the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry, but this idea was not destined to be born. There was a restoration work in 50-s, and in 1953 GUM opened its doors to numerous customers again.
In 1992, the shopping mall was privatized, but new owners wanted to save its old name - GUM. In early 2000s, the structure was partially restored. Numerous facades were decorated with beautiful electric lights.

GUM nowadays

There are not only the outlets of famous brands in GUM, but also pharmacies, flower shops, banks, restaurants and cafes. Moreover, there is a renovated show-hall which always hosts cultural events, the famous reconstructed fountain. There are several reminders of the Soviet past such as the famous supermarket Gastronom №1 (“Гастроном №1”), café "Festival" (“Фестивальное”) and Stolovaya №57 (“Столовая № 57”). By the way, there are comfortable sitting areas with green plants. And in winter 2006 a popular "GUM-skating rink" was opened on Red Square.