The Izmaylovo district in Moscow is one of the most visited places by tourists, because this neighborhood is located in the modern Izmaylovo Kremlin and the souvenir market that is placed around it. But what many tourists don´t know is that right next to this kremlin there are two very interesting place to visit: the Izmaylovo estate or residence from the time of the tsars and the luxurious Stalin Bunker from World War II.
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0. Izmaylovo district: from the tsars’ era to the modern era
In the Izmaylovo district, located northeast of Moscow, there are very interesting places to visit since you can delve into different eras in Russian history:
- Modern era, with the Kremlin and the Izmaylovo market
- Soviet era, with a view of Stalin’s Bunker.
- Romanov era, with the Izmaylovo residence of the tsars
In addition, you can also walk through the huge Izmaylovsky Park, an extensive green area with a large forest and many ponds where you can practice various activities.
All these attractions are very close to each other. On this map you can see the places that I will talk about in this article:
How to get to Izmaylovo District? It can be reached both by metro and by bus, though the fastest way is to take line 3 of the Moscow Metro and stop at Partizanskaya metro station (about 20 minutes from the center of Moscow).
From this station you can reach the Kremlin and Izmaylovo market, or the Izmaylovo residence in 10 minutes. In this photo, you can see the route from the metro stop to the kremlin:
Another option is to book a taxi in advance with KiwiTaxi, or other taxi booking platforms in Russia.
As soon as you get out of the subway, you will find 4 giant buildings that are part of a large hotel and commercial complex built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, which are a highly recommended option to stay in Moscow since they are quite affordable, they have many services and are well connected to the center through the metro station:
- Hotel Izmaylovo Vega (4 stars)
- Hotel Izmaylovo Alfa (4 stars)
- Hotel Izmaylovo Beta (3 stars)
- Hotel Izmaylovo Gamma (3 stars)
- Hotel Izmaylovo Delta (4 stars)
At the station exit, you also have the Ast Mall, where you will find many fast food chains, both Russian and American.
1. The Izmaylovo Kremlin
After walking for about 10 minutes from the Partizanskaya metro stop, you will see the silhouette of the so-called Izmaylovo Kremlin (remember that kremlin means fortress).
It is a “modern kremlin” that has nothing to do with the historic Moscow Kremlin located on Red Square. On the contrary, it is a cultural and entertainment complex with buildings constructed between 1998 and 2017, and which are beautiful replicas of old historic Russian buildings from the 14th to 17th centuries.
To some extent I would say that it bears some resemblance to the castles and buildings of Disneyland amusement parks.
- Website: https://www.kremlin-Izmaylovo.com/
- Izmaylovo Kremlin hours: every day from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m
- Entrance to the Izmaylovo Kremlin is free, though admission is paid to access the museums inside.
And what is inside this Kremlin? You have of course streets to walk around and a central square where the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas is located, which looks like a historical monument of Russian architecture, but like other buildings it is a replica, built at the beginning of the 21st century. Despite this, it is the tallest wooden church in Moscow.
As a curiosity, I´d like to say that many couples like to get married at the Izmaylovo Kremlin, in which in addition to the Church of St. Nicholas, there is also a civil registry office. Then they celebrate their union with their friends and family in one of the picturesque banquet halls of the Izmaylovo Kremlin.
At the main square, you will find a shop for artisan fruit cakes, according to 17th century recipes. You will also find peculiar restaurants with Russian cuisine, though you also have the option to eat something quick at the mobile food stalls.
Inside the buildings and towers of the Izmaylovo Kremlin, you will find a wide variety of museums. Currently, there are nothing more and nothing less than 14 museums or exhibitions that, in my opinion, are nothing out of this world. The fact is that Russians love to set up museums on any subject.
The museum that attracts more tourists, and that you will find, just passing through the main entrance is the Museum of the History of Russian Vodka. But there are also many other museums such as the Interactive Museum of Russian Toys, which houses a workshop where you can make your own doll.
You also have the Soap Making Museum, the Moscow Animation Museum, the Bread Museum (with buffet and freshly baked bread), the Chocolate Museum, the Weapons Museum or the Museum of Miniatures World History in Plasticine. There is even a Museum of Disobedient Children, where parents bring their children to show how rebellious children were punished in ancient Russia.
In short, there are museums for all tastes, and to access them you pay an entrance that is not very expensive (about 200 rubles per museum). It is best to consult the Kremlin map:
2. Izmaylovo Souvenir Market
The most touristy part of the Izmaylovo Kremlin are the markets located around the Kremlin, and where you can buy all kinds of Russian souvenirs at more economic prices than in the center of Moscow. There are two markets:
- The Izmailovsky Vernisazh (or Vernissage), located near the Kremlin entrance, which offers a wide variety of souvenirs and crafts from different Russian regions, in traditional styles such as Khokloma, Gzhel or Palekh.
- The flea market, located behind the Kremlin and where you can buy matryoshka, antiques, furniture, old books, objects from the former USSR, Russian hats with ear flaps, Cossack sabers, Soviet medals or even an astronaut costume. Here people bring all their old objects to sell.
The markets are open every day, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but the best days to visit them, in which there is more animation and a greater number of vendors, is during the weekends (from Friday to Sunday).
Please note that most of the antiques for sale at these flea markets are not really antiques, but a modern stylization. In addition, there are many souvenirs that are made in China and are sold as if they were Russian crafts.
It is very common to haggle with sellers for the items price. However, many vendors don´t speak English or, at best, use rather basic English.
3. Stalin´s Bunker and Izmaylovo Stadium
Right next to the Izmaylovo flea market is Stalin’s Secret Bunker, which the Soviet leader built at the beginning of World War II, and that is surprisingly connected to the Moscow Kremlin in Red Square, with a secret underground road from 17 kilometers, through which the communist leader could escape by car, in the event of an eventual attack by the Germans.
The bunker was forgotten and abandoned for 50 years. In fact, most Muscovites were unaware of its existence. In 1996, it was rehabilitated and reopened to the public. In the bunker, you can see Stalin’s private office, with his phone and his pipe (replicas since the originals were lost or looted), the meeting room or the Georgian canteen (Stalin’s birth country). It is a bunker with all the comforts needed.
You have to book in advance and not all guides speak English, so you need to confirm if one is available.
- Website: http://www.cmaf.ru/branchs/bun/
- Reservations: phone 8-499-166-67-68; 8-916-518-23-72, or email: [email protected]
- The guided tour costs 700 rubles
Just above Stalin’s Bunker, you will find the Izmaylovo Stadium, which Stalin had erected to cover the construction of his shelter. The stadium, if completed, would have had a capacity of 200,000 people.
4. Izmaylovo Residence
Next to the Izmaylovo Kremlin, you will find the Izmaylovo residence or estate, which was owned by the Romanov dynasty. It is an estate that does have historical buildings that are worth visiting and that was the residence of the Russian tsars, since the time of Alexei Mikhailovich, father of Peter I the Great
It is located in a beautiful park, on an artificial island (called Izmaylovo Island) surrounded by the Serebryano-Vinogradny pond. This space is managed by the same municipal company that manages the beautiful Kolomenskoye park, south of Moscow.
- Website: http://mgomz.com/Izmaylovo
- Summer season (April 1 to September 30): Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- Winter season (from October 1 to March 31): Tuesdays to Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
- Free entrance
What to see in the Izmaylovo residence? Since the time of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich Romanov, some 17th-century buildings have been preserved, including the Bridge Tower (Mostovaya bashnya), the Intercession Cathedral and the front and rear entrance doors to the palace.
During the visit, you will get immersed in the lifestyle of the inhabitants of the royal court of the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Bridge Tower is located next to the entrance bridge to the island of Izmaylovo and bears some similarity to some of the towers of the Moscow Kremlin. This tower housed a surveillance post on its first floor. It currently houses a permanent exhibition of porcelain tiles.
The Cathedral of the Intercession is the central architectural element of Izmaylovo Island. It is luxuriously decorated with polychrome mosaics made by the famous Russian ceramicist, Stepan Ivanov. Near the cathedral you will find a monument to Peter I the Great.
In the heart of the estate there was a wooden palace, though currently only two sets of access doors to the palace are preserved, the front door and the rear door.
From the Izmaylovo estate you can have a nice view of the Kremlin.
5. The Izmaylovo Park
Finally, to end the day, you can relax by walking through the huge Izmaylovsky Park, where you can enjoy magnificent nature.
In summer, you can sunbathe, swim in its ponds, fish, rent a boat, or ride the Ferris wheel. It is a place frequented by Muscovites to disconnect from the city.
- Website: http://www.izmailovsky-park.ru/
And this is so far the tour of the Izmaylovo district, which I hope has helped you discover, that in addition to the Izmaylovo Kremlin and its market, there are other interesting places to visit.