GUM (Russian for “Main Department Store”) is the premiere shopping center in Moscow. It is located directly across from the Kremlin on Red Square, an area which has been used for trading since the 1500s. Now filled with high-end fashion designers, the beautiful GUM building has functioned as a shopping center since its completion in 1893.
- Shopping – Over 200 stores of well known brands for fashion, jewellery, gifts as wells as restaurants and cafes.
- Architecture – GUM was built by Russian architect Alexander Pomerantsev in the early 1890s. The facade is elegant and imposing (almost 800 feet long and three stories high), but the most impressive architectural aspect is the glass ceiling. Designed by engineer Vladimir Shukov, the ceiling is deceptively light: it’s held up by over 200,000 pounds of metal.
As it is a department store, entrance to GUM is free. However, be prepared to pay high prices for anything purchased inside. Brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes call GUM their home; consider the addition of Russia’s extremely high import taxes, and buying anything at GUM could be the most expensive part of any trip to Moscow.
- Bring Your Camera! – This may be self-evident, but GUM is an exquisite example of pre-Revolution architecture that is definitely camera worthy.
- Don’t Come Hungry – While GUM department store is unquestionably luxurious, the food options are not on the same level. There are a few unoriginal and expensive cafes within GUM, but it’s best to eat somewhere else before for a more unique (and cheaper) dining experience.
- Don’t Buy Souvenirs Here – As mentioned earlier, GUM is one of the most expensive shopping centers in Moscow. Don’t bother buying souvenirs here — or anywhere on Red Square. Try outdoor markets further outside the city (like Izmailovo) for cheaper options.
To see which stores are open, go to the interactive floor plan on the official site.
Exit from metro stations Okhotny Ryad (red line), Ploshchad Revolutsii (blue line), or transfer to one of these stations from Teatralnaya (green line). Follow signs for Red Square.
GUM was built at the end of the 19th century as a trade center to replace the open air market that existed on what is now Red Square. At the beginning of the Russian Revolution, GUM had over 1,200 stores; after communism was instituted, GUM became a shopping center for the masses. From 1928 until Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet leader turned GUM into office space for Soviet officials.
After 1953, GUM again acted as a trading center. The iconic queues of the Soviet Union could be seen on Red Square as the GUM department store was one of the only places in the USSR where goods were always stocked.
Today, GUM is one of the most exclusive shopping centers in Moscow. There are around 200 stores, mostly comprised of Western luxury brands like Burberry and Bosco.
- GUM has always been called GUM — but the abbreviation hasn’t always meant the same thing. In the past, GUM was “Gosudarstvenny Universalny Magazin” (State Department Store). Today it’s known as “Glavny Universalny Magazin” (Main Department Store).
- At the end of the 19th century, GUM was the largest department store in Europe.