Why did Russians open the biggest flea market inside the ‘kremlin’? (PHOTOS)

Daria Sokolova
If you want to go back 50 years and look at the favorite furniture and clothes of Soviet citizens, this is the right place where all your antique dreams could come true.

Besides the famous Moscow Kremlin on the Red Square, there’s another one in Russia’s capital. It’s located outside the city center in the residential district of Izmailovo. 

From a distance, it looks like an iconic Russian folk structure, as if it came to life from Slavic fairy tales. High white-stone walls, colorful roofs, wooden terems and chambers - it’s hard to believe, but all this splendor was built only in the early 2000s. 

Honestly speaking, this is not a real kremlin - it’s artificial. Nothing like this has ever existed in Russian history. The entire structure was literally built with inspiration from Russian fairy tales and legends. However, this doesn’t detract from its merits in the eyes of many tourists and city dwellers. 

And the main surprise awaits visitors inside: the Izmailovo Kremlin was originally conceived as a cultural and entertainment complex with museums, a vernissage and workshops, where visitors can practice Russian crafts. Yes, there are indeed several museums there (for example, a museum dedicated to bread). There are also artisan galleries with souvenirs and master classes, while there is also quite a large space where artists sell their works. But, all this remains in the shadow of the main landmark of the Izmailovo Kremlin, the flea and antique market.

There are vintage items for sale at literally every available corner. Paradoxically, surrounded by ancient Russian urban landscapes, you can find the largest collections of Soviet artifacts. Probably no other market has as many busts of Vladimir Lenin and 1980 Olympic ‘Mishka’ bears!

At the entrance, right on the ground, babushkas and dedushkas sell old bags and suitcases that look like they’ve survived the 1917 Revolution. In between them, you come across clocks, plastic puppets and, of course, endless porcelain dishes - in short, everything that people used to stand in line for, but, today, is gathering dust in their closets. 

Climbing up the stairs, you can see how, right under the frescoed towers, hundreds of people set up tables and sit on plastic chairs, promoting their goods. There’s a whole pavilion with vinyl records, which no music enthusiast will miss. Want a Soviet version of Abba or The Beatles? Or maybe a rare recording of Queen? Collectors also have Soviet rock musicians, classical music orchestra recordings and world pop hits. 

Inside the wooden mansions are long tables, barely covered by old newspapers. There, they sell personal items: women’s cosmetic bags, carefully embroidered lace napkins and homemade beads. Clothes of all kinds are hung right between the “teeth” of the Kremlin walls on the most ordinary ropes and it all looks grandiose. Imagine someone hanging their clothes to dry in a medieval castle! 

However, there are also real antiques for connoisseurs: jewelry statuettes, authentic spinning wheels and fabric toys, which are definitely at least a half-century old. There are also copies (and maybe not just copies) of coins from different eras. Formally, the antique part of the market is separated from the “flea” side by a wooden bridge, but, in fact, you just walk from one kiosk to another while browsing for some unusual things. 

Among the leisurely wandering Muscovites and tourists are also real collectors - they have their own favorite spots where they find new items. Numismatists surround the tents with coins and ask the sellers to find the desired rarity. Lovers of rare Soviet toys greedily seek out new rarities. Prices in this case are subject to haggling. Someone will take a whole bag of antique jewelry for $20, while someone will pay the equivalent of $2,000 for a vintage sewing machine.

The market in the Izmailovo Kremlin is open on weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, according to the pros, if you really want to find something worthwhile, it’s best to arrive at the opening. Of course, you’re not obliged to buy anything and can simply wander around marveling at this museum of antiquity by the castle walls! 

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