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Bustling Arbat Street in Moscow

The historic and legendary Arbat Street in Moscow gained its fame in 1493, when a candle in the Church of St. Nicholas in the street caused the entire city of Moscow to burn to the ground. It was not only the disaster that catapulted the street into prominence, but in the late eighteenth century the street became popular as the aristocratic part of the city. Today, after more than five hundred years of existence and a colorful history, Arbat Street has become one of the popular tourist attractions in Moscow.

If visitors block the bustle and noise of the street from their minds, the street takes on an eerie atmosphere as if walking through the old Moscow. Reminders of yesteryear are still evident in the cobbled street and historical architecture of the buildings. Being the first street in Moscow to be set aside exclusively for pedestrians, the street has taken on a life of its own, and visitors and tourists have mixed reactions to the street and its attractions. Vasily Polenov’s painting, “A Courtyard in Moscow”, which he created in 1879, captures the street in all its historical glory.

Arbat Street has become a street that is tourist orientated, with shops, restaurants, vendors, artists, street performers, musicians, cafés, sculptors and fast food outlets. It is often recommended to tourists as the perfect location for purchasing souvenirs, but many foreign visitors find the street to be too busy and vendors extremely overbearing. Souvenirs are not cheaper here and visitors are warned that the street is teeming with pickpockets and should keep their valuables very close to them. The paintings and sculptures that are displayed along the street are breathtaking however, and worth the trouble and discomfort of the overcrowding.

There are also a few noteworthy attractions in Arbat Street, such as the Wax Museum, and many memorial statues to legendary Russians, including Princess Turandot, Bulat Okudzhava (a poet and singer) and Alexander Pushkin and his wife, Natalie. Arbat Street might not appeal to everyone, but it is a part of the history of Moscow and is of interest. It is a street that has survived the wars and occupations of Russia, to stand as a reminder to the heritage of this country.


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