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Izmailovsky Souvenir Market, Russia

Experienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyagerExperienced voyager Joshua Brook
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The lively and bustling Izmailovsky Souvenir Market is an absolute must-see for all visitors to Moscow. The enormous market is just a few minutes walk from Izmailovsky Park Metro and is surrounded by a mock wooden fortress and charmingly decorated with various statues of figures from Russian folklore and myth. Street performers and sideshows entertain visitors as they browse around the seemingly endless tourist stands. You can expect the usual painted wooden matryoshka dolls, kitschy Cold War chess sets, amber jewelry and Soviet memorabilia, but also some interesting pre-war cameras and binoculars, traditional Russian handicrafts and an impressive selection of original paintings. You will be bowled over by the choice on display and utterly exhausted by the constant hounding from the over-enthusiastic stallholders! Just remember that a bit of haggling is an almost essential part of the Izmailovsky experience!

The market is an entire day out, with lots of places to sit and relax when you grow tired of bargaining with the stal holders and sample freshly barbequed Georgian shashliki (kebabs) or warm up with a glass of Russian cognac. Open only at weekends, Izmailovsky Market is a great experience and a fantastic place to stock up on presents for friends and family back home.
The market's name originates from the nearby Izmailovo Royal Estate, whose remaining buildings are clustered just a 10-minute walk east of the market. Owned by the Romanov boyars since the 16th century, the estate was the favorite retreat of Tsar Alexei and his son, the future Emperor Peter The Great.

Peter spent much of his childhood there and was taught how to sail on the estate lake, an early passion for sailing that grew and eventually led him to not only found the Russian Navy and launch Russia as a great European Naval power, but build the great port city of St. Petersburg on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. Several structures, including an imposing triple-arched Ceremonial Gate and the five-domed Cathedral of the Intercession, still remain on the site and date back as early as the 17th century. The estate is well worth a look while you're in the area. More info on: www.moscow-taxi.com

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