The State Department StoreRussian: Gosudarstvenyi Universalnyi Magazin or Государственный универсальный магазин, abbreviated GUM is a shopping mall which houses about a hundred premium class stores, cafes, and restaurants. This is the best-known shopping centre in Russia, and it has been an integral part of the architectural ensemble of Red Square for over a century. The GUM’s front facade marks its boundary opposite the Kremlin. The store itself is also a monument of Russian Art Nouveau architecture, which makes a walk along its arcades a pleasure to luxury shopping lovers and art connoisseurs alike.
Historically, the area adjacent to Red Square has always been a trading place with all sorts of small shops; this is reflected in some street names which have survived to this day, e.g. Vetoshny LaneRussian: Ветошный переулок meaning ‘rag’, Rybny LaneRussian: Рыбный переулок meaning ‘fish’, Okhotny RyadRussian: Охотный ряд meaning ‘hunters’ row’ metro station. In the 17th century, the number of small shops here reached four thousand, making it one of the biggest markets in Europe. The small shops were arranged in parallel rows, while the vast trading area was divided into three parts, demarcated by NikolskayaRussian: ulitsa Nikolskaya or улица Никольская, IljinkaRussian: ulitsa Ilinka or улица Ильинка, and VarvarkaRussian: ulitsa Varvarka or улица Варварка streets. For this reason, it started to be segmented into the upper, middle, and lower rows.
As far back the 18th century, a design project was developed to construct a large building in the manner of a trading centre which would replace the need for individual shops. In 1815, the O. Bove an Italian-Russian neoclassical architectdesigned building of the Upper Trading RowsRussian: Verkhnie torgovye ryady or Верхние торговые ряды was erected on the site of the present-day GUM. The venue, which occupied an entire city block, was shared between leaseholders. However, having been very quickly constructed, the building soon fell into disrepair and turned into a labyrinth of dirty and dark underpasses. A nation-wide competition to design a new building of the Upper Trading Rows was announced in 1888. First prize was awarded to A. PomerantsevRussian architect, master of the last stage of eclecticism in Moscow architecture, educator, second went to R. Klein (who later designed the Museum of Fine Arts in Volkhonka streetRussian: ulitsa Volkhonka or улица Волхонка). A. Pomerantsev was the project architect and V. Shukhova Russian engineer-polymath, scientist and architect the chief construction engineer.
If the Russian history is a subject of your interest and you want to know, for example, what is the oldest church in Moscow, what are the famous monasteries around Moscow, which style of Moscow architecture you can see only in this town, you can read on our website pages about Kremlin Moscow and “History and Architecture”.
ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS
The building, like most buildings of the late 19th century, was designed in the style of historicism whose cornerstone is the use of architectural elements and details typical of a particular epoch in history. Carved window surrounds, small keeled arches and the decoration of the grand staircase are all reminiscent of 17th century architecture, i.e. the famous Russian patternwork (uzorochjeRussian: узорочье). The architect paid special attention to the front facade as well as the corner which connects Red Square and Nikolskaya street. In addition, the Upper Trading Rows echo the architecture of the building of the Historical MuseumRussian: Istoricheskiy muzey or Исторический музей, also built in an historic style.
Once inside, you get a totally different impression of the GUM. It is not just one building, but a kind of miniature city. It is formed by three street-like arcades intersecting at right angles and featuring a fountain in the center of the building, located under a glass dome which lets in natural sunlight. The arcades have transparent arched skylights, giving the impression that you are outdoors. Framing the arcades are three-storey buildings housing numerous stores. Each level has concourses and walkways which link different arcades. Inside as well as outside, three tiers of decoration can be seen, marking the three storeys. This is the architect’s way of conveying the medieval atmosphere of a whole trading quarter while turning it into a small town sheltered from any rough weather or inconvenience – basically, anything that might prevent its visitors from having an enjoyable time inside.
The Upper Trading Rows were constructed to meet the new specifications of the time. The building was equipped with central heating, electric lighting and running water. The innovation lay in the use of metal support structures, which allowed for a large number of decorative elements with no constructive function. But more importantly, the construction features arched roofs with slanting trusses designed by V. Shukhov. Glass panes were attached to the steel framework, which was instrumental not only in covering long and wide arcades and providing illumination but also in in increasing the efficiency of the construction in terms of overall cost.
Today, the GUM arcades host different exhibitions, while the mall itself, which has long become an architectural and historical landmark, is unmissable for all who find themselves in Moscow.© 2016-2022 moscovery.com