Izmailovo Kremlin in Moscow
Although Izmailovo Kremlin is a place worth to see, you have to understand certain things about it. I'll explain it later in the article, meanwhile let me tell you a little bit about Kremlin's history.
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During Perestroika and post-Perestroika times, there was Cherkizovsky market nearby, not the most clean and quiet place to say the least. In fact, Cherkizovsky market was closed only several years ago, and while many people argue it was useful I still think it wasn't good for Moscow.
Anyways, there was no Kremlin in Izmailovo back then, but there was something called Izmailovo Vernissage, a place where all kinds of Russian and pseudo-Russian stuff were sold, like souvenirs, clothes, bijou etc. Despite the fact that the souvenirs are often too kitschy, the place was still quite popular with the foreigners. However, it is possible to find something decent there these days, but you'll have to look good.
Izmailovo Vernissage burned down several times, probably due to mafia wars. Afterwards, as I said, Cherkizovsky market was completely closed down, and gradually Izmailovo Kremlin was erected near it.
The entrance to the Kremlin.
I have a mixed feeling about that Kremlin. On the other hand it looks quite good and "Russian", because the architects did their best to reproduce the design of the real kremlins spread throughout the country. There were a lot of them, by the way, Moscow Kremlin is just the most famous one. After all, a kremlin is just a fortification built to help protect the city, so it can't be unique to Moscow.
A wooden house.
Anyways, while Izmailovo Kremlin looks like the real deal, it's little bit too "Russian" to my taste. We call such things "lubok". The name comes from old Russian popular prints with simple graphic, medieval comics if you like. Izmailovo Kremlin is exactly like such comic - looks good but too simplistic and kitschy to be true.
On the other hand, if you look at this place as a bunch of different architectural "samples", it looks kind of interesting. There are wooden houses built just like in the first kremlins, and then there are stone ones that were being built later on.
An example of old stone housing.
In fact, I think the place should be very interesting for you. Yes, it may not be very historically accurate, but if you don't take it too seriously and let go of all the nonsense shown in American movies about Russia (with all due respect to Hollywood), you should like it. I don't think there is a point in going there more than once, but that single visit can truly be a lot of fun.
It's quite easy to get there, in fact. If you walk straight from Partizanskaya Moscow metro station, you will get right to the Vernissage, while Izmailovo Kremlin is a little bit to the left. I suggest you go to Kremlin because from there it's very easy to get to the Vernissage. The entrance is free, but you'll have to pay for making photos.
This is in fact a fire truck!
There are several neat museums I suggest you to visit - Russian costumes, Russian toys and of course - the museum of Russian valenki. Oh, and how could I forgot the museum of Russian vodka?? By the way, that is the place where you can pay for making photos on all territory of Izmailovo Kremlin.
The museum of Russian vodka.
In case you got hungry, there is a couple of restaurants and a cafe. There is even a registry office where old-style Russian weddings are held! Again, I'm not sure about their historical accuracy, but they surely look cool. Plus, all kinds of events are celebrated there, so if you like Russian holidays tradition - Izmailovo Kremlin is the place!
Palace of Russian cuisine.
In addition, you can get to all kinds of master classes, like pottery and matrioshka painting. It's best if you look at the map first, and then attend the places you are interested in because the Kremlin is quite big.
If you cross Izmailovo Kremlin's main square and a little bridge, you will get to a small market. It was nearly empty since I was there on weekday, but on weekends you can buy there are all kinds of "antique" stuff, plus there's a flea market nearby.
If you cross that market, you will get to Izmailovo Vernissage, where you can purchase all kinds of souvenirs. However, remember what I told you about the kitschy stuff and pay attention to what you're buying.
Blank and painted matrioshkas at Vernissage.
Interesting fact - if you get to Vernissage from the main entrance, you'll have to pay 5 rubles to a lady in a kitschy Russian dress. However, if you get there from Kremlin then it's free. Profit!
Apart from the souvenirs, all kinds of half-made stuff are sold there for painters. For example, there are blank matrioshkas that professionals buy to paint and sell later on. You won't be interested in those, I guess, so look out for painted matrioshkas or other stuff in Khokhloma and Gzhel styles (the black-red-gold ones and the blue ones). I don't know the exact figures, but I'm sure the prices there are quite lower than on Arbat.
The famous khokhloma.
In any case, you will either get there some nice souvenirs or make a set of cool photos. The most important thing is not to take this place too seriously - this is not a museum, but rather a Hollywood film set.
...next thing you know, there will be Arnie dressed in a Soviet cop uniform
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