Burcu Başar

Moscow, Gum Shopping Mall

Do you feel disappointed that I am writing about a shopping mall? Do not be too quick to judge. What if I tell you that this shopping mall was opened in 1893 and has an amazingly beautiful architecture? If it is not enough to overcome your disappointment, I will then tell you that this shopping mall is located right in the middle of one of the most famous squares in the World – the Red Square. Gum Shopping Mall that I visited twice during my trip to Moscow is without any doubt the most beautiful shopping venue that I have ever seen in my life. Given its very special location and the value of the building, Gum is – unfortunately but also understandably – is home to mostly high-end stores. This should however not keep you from visiting this mall, which also offers people watching opportunities sitting at the patios overlooking the Red Square. There are also many cafes inside the mall, which are nearly as atmospheric. 

Gum used to be the biggest shopping mall in Europe when it first opened in 1893. It is reported that the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul also inspired the design of this mall which quickly became the symbol of new Moscow right after its opening. While the mall was already home to 1200 stores in 1917, it was nationalized following the Russian Revolution that took place on that same year. Stalin had it converted to an office space in 1928 to be used by Stalin`s committee in charge of his initial five yearly plan. It was not until 1953 when the building started re-serving in accordance with its original construction purpose – a shopping mall. I hope that I could convince you to visit this shopping mall both for its historical and architectural value. 

I suspect that you will already be visiting the Red Square while in Moscow anyhow. Red Square may at first look not as impressive as you may have imagined it to be but you will be rewarded if you force your imagination a little and think of the 16th century when it was first constructed as part of Ivan the Great`s efforts to show the growing influence of Moscow. The name Red Square has by the way no links to the bricks surrounding the square or to the connection between communism and color red – the corresponding Russian word at the time meant beautiful but its meaning has somehow switched to red over the years.

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