Russian cities have at least one popular shop-lined pedestrian street filled
with street musicians and small kiosks selling arts and crafts. Moscow is no exception. Moscow’s pedestrian street is called Arbat
and is very famous in Russia and many of the former Soviet Republics.
street in Moscow is very centrally located.
It is walking distance from the Kremlin, located about a fifteen minute
walk to the northwest, and it stretches for about two kilometers. There are metro stations on either side of
Arbat. On the south side of Arbat where
the famous pedestrian street meets an extremely busy vehicular street called
New Arbat, or Novy Arbat, there is the metro station with the same name,
‘Arbat’. This metro station is one of
the oldest stations, and is quite a distinctive landmark on its own. Arbat Street, sometimes known as ‘Old Arbat’
runs diagonally away from it’s traffic filled neighbour, Novy Arbat, from this
point onward. A super expensive
restaurant, ‘Praga’, is situated on the corner where the two Arbats meet. Fortunately, not everything on this street is
as expensive as the ‘Praga’. The place
where the two Arbats meet is always busy with cars and it is hard to imagine
that less than two hundred meters away is a peaceful escape from traffic.
a couple meters of entering the pedestrian zone, there are street vendors
selling beautiful landscape paintings or stereotypical Russian souveniers such
as nesting dolls, vodka flasks, and funny T-shirts with slogans or pictures
depicting old Soviet propaganda or a mix of pre- and post- Soviet lifestyle
such as a silhouette of Lenin’s head on the McDonalds logo. After passing a couple of banks and currency
exchange offices, we start seeing plenty of shops and cafes. Not surprisingly, many of the shops cater to
tourists. There is a large number of
souvenier and jewellrey shops.
into Arbat, you can find plenty of places to eat. There is no shortage of eateries in Moscow
and you can find almost every chain possible on Arbat. You can find everything from fast food to
cafeterias, from coffee houses to sit-down restaurants. Moscow’s Hard Rock café is located on Arbat. When Starbucks opened its doors in Russia in
2009, they didn’t hesitate to open up shop on this prestigious street and now
you can find two of them here. Many of
Moscow’s big chains such as Yelki Palki, Mu Mu Café, Coffee House, Yaposhka,
Shokolodnitsa, and McDonalds can be found on Arbat. Arbat is also the location of many ethnic
cuisines such as Japanese, Italian, Ukrainian, Turkish and German. Many eateries are also popular hang outs, and
on certain nights, for example, you can see a gathering of Harley Davidson
motorcycles outside a local diner.
also has its share of entertainment and sightseeing. Along Arbat, you can find graffiti wall, an
area filled with planned graffiti and an old out-of-service red bus which has
been converted into a restaurant. Arbat
also has its small version of the walk-of-fame with its stars on the sidewalk
like in Hollywood. Towards the far end
of Arbat near the Hard Rock Care, there is a popular monument of Pushkin and
his wife. And of course, on any given
day, you can find plenty of street performers from string quartets and
breakdancers to magicians and comedy acts.
the two kilometer walk along Arbat street, we finally come to a rapidly moving
six lane monstrosity which snaps us out of our peaceful walk and back into the
stressful, traffic-filled reality. Arbat
street ends with an enourmous Stalin era concrete skyscraper, one of seven such
buildings in Moscow which has become known as the seven sisters. Moscow State University is among the seven
sisters. I don’t really know what this
particular building is currently used for.
At this end of Arbat, we find the metro station ‘Smolenskaya’.
and its neighbouring street of New Arbat are fantastic places to go for a walk
and get a feel of typical Moscow. Arbat
is a great escape from the surrounding busy Moscow life right in the center of
town. It is wonderful whether you’re
there to shop for souveniers, have a bite to eat, or just go for a relaxing
stroll in the big city.