Old Arbat

Nikolay Galkin/TASS
This historic street, first mentioned in the chronicles as early as the mid-16th century, was appointed a pedestrian street in Soviet time, which happened very rarely back then, even in Moscow. The name Arbat derives from the historic location Orbat, west of the Kremlin, but the provenance of that place name itself is unknown. More than half of Arbat's 19th-century mansions and boarding houses remained intact during the Soviet years, and many of them are now officially protected landmarks. Arbat is the place to shop for Matryoshka dolls, Orenburg down scarves, and amber jewellery. The flea market right in the street sells antiques (mostly Soviet paraphernalia) and old books. Arbat is filled with tourists at all times, amused by street bands, mime actors, and costumed entertainers. Street artists will paint your portrait or caricature. The poet, bard and composer Bulat Okudzhava, who lived here, put Arbat lanes on the map for the whole nation with his songs.