Moscow / Russia
You stream like a river, with your odd name,
And your asphalt is clear like the water there.
Oh, Arbat, my Arbat, you’re my true calling.
You're are both my cheer and my misfortune…

This is lyrics of Bulat Okudzhava, a well famous Soviet bard singer, a long-time resident of Arbat.

Indeed: Arbat is really the river of time, which has accumulated all history of Moscow.
Centuries, cultures, traditions and styles are merged here: classical and informal art, urban subcultures, and much more. Here merchant mansions, revenue houses and historical restaurants of the XIX century adjoin to modern boutiques and chain cafes.

The biography of Arbat dates back to 1475. In medieval times, peasants and artisans, merchants and strelets - Tsar’s guard soldiers- nestled here. It was a busy road towards important trading cities, and also it often witnessed enemy raids to Moscow…

In the Soviet period, from 1930s to 1950s, Arbat was part of the route that Stalin traveled daily to his residence in Kremlin. In the 60s, the state highway moved to the neighboring new Kalinin Avenue - now Novy Arbat Avenue. In 1986, the Arbat became a pedestrian street and got its new look, which has been preserved to this day: stones pavement, antique styled lanterns, flower pots, nice benches.

Today it is one of the most flamboyant sites in Moscow. It is a venue for interesting urban events, folk celebrations, street shows by dancers, acrobats and actors; here live music fills the air and you can enjoy performances of both amateur young singers and professionals of Moscow musical theaters. Street painters sell their diverse pictures and in 20-30 minutes they will deftly draw your portrait or humorous cartoon.

And of course, Arbat is a huge marketplace where you can browse for fascinating souvenirs and gifts to every taste and budget for yourself and your beloved ones, and also learn a lot about the amazing traditional Russian folk crafts, such as Khokhloma wooden tableware painting, Gzhel porcelain painting, festive Yaroslavl majolica, colourful Zhostovo trays, sophisticated Pavlovsky Posad shawls, lacquer boxes of Fedoskino, Palekh and other schools, and matryoshkas... matryoshkas... - thousands of lovely Russian nesting dolls! In addition, Arbat is a shopping area with glamour and glitz enough to satisfy the most fashionable visitors.

You will enjoy a wide choice of elegant and cozy restaurants here, both Russian and best loved international cuisine. There are many cafes with outdoor terraces, which adds a bit Parisian atmosphere to the area and makes it not just a site but the main character of your walk.

Arbat is an emblematic place, glorified in hundreds of poems and novels. When a native Muscovite says "Arbat", it means not only the street itself, but also an inimitable local entourage and spirit flavoured with tickling fragrance of the past. For centuries, it has been home to distinguished creatives: artists, musicians, scientific elite, writers and poets, including Alexander Pushkin, the sun of Russian culture. Among modern literati who lived on the Arbat, the most famous are Bulat Okudzhava, poet, novelist and bard singer and Anatoly Rybakov, whose Children Of The Arbat captivating autobiographical fiction of Soviet life just prior to Stalin's Great Purge has been translated into English and is available on Amazon.

The key point about Arbat’s one-of-a-kind atmosphere is focusing at the life of outstanding humans, whose spiritual practices, creativity, strong will and professional success worked for people and added to the store of Russian historical and cultural heritage. Here, you can see a huge mural portrait of Marshal Zhukov, hero of the Second World War, designer of our victory over Nazism. Over there, the wall opens up a young, inspirited face of Viktor Tsoi, a remarkable rock musician, whose big lovely voice aired dissenting thoughts and feelings of Russians of the 80-90s; he died young, but to this day is much loved not just by his contemporaries, but by next generations too… In this building worked the famous Soviet portrait photographer Moisei Nappelbaum, author of the best portrait of Lenin and many other historical figures. And there the heroic Arctic explorer Ivan Papanin lived…

On Arbat, travellers get the big kick out of just strolling its old neighborhoods, soaking up local history and culture and admiring the many landmarks of the unique architecture ranging from elegant classicism to ornate pseudo-Russian style, from sophisticated Art Nouveau to austere Soviet constructivism. The heavenly patron of Arbat is St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker, and before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 the street had three churches of this much revered Russian saint. Another church which used to be in Arbat but later was destroyed was painted by the famous artist Vasily Polenov in his picture which is now displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery. In the middle of the street there is the Vakhtangov Theater, one of Moscow’s most interesting drama houses. At the end of the street, you can discover the home museum of the great poet Alexander Pushkin. And the opposite end of Arbat boasts emblematic and trendy Prague restaurant, which in XIX-early XX centuries used to be kind of a club for Moscow intellectuals and bohemians, and was famed for its haute cuisine and gourmet desserts like Birds’ Milk branded cake.

In addition, this old street is full of secrets and legends. This is one of the most mystical places in Moscow, featuring among other things a spectacular Scottish-castle-like building called the House of Knights; a beautiful old mansion housing residence of the US Ambassador enveloped in a lot of amazing tales; a haunted house, and much more.

Well, generally speaking this awesome street is a never ending story to tell…

…One will never cure this love of you,
Loving forty thousand of other cobblestones,
Oh, Arbat, my Arbat, you are my only homeland,
No one could ever see the end of you.

Suitable tours

Moscow city tour
Arbat Bolshoi Theatre Moscow Kremlin Moscow State University Novodevichy Convent Red Square
3 hours
from 1500₽ (
At the central Bank of Russia exchange rate, reference info
/ person
Arbat walking tour
3 hours
from 1000₽ (
At the central Bank of Russia exchange rate, reference info
/ person