Folk songs and dances

We see a lot of foreign visitors at "Bolshoy" theatre which is, of course, famous for its top-notch ballet. And to our regret, we see much fewer visitors at amazing Russian folk shows. We think that to get some acquaintance with a country it's essential to see its folk culture.

 

Below we would like to share with you the most recommended performances. You can check their performance schedule and book tickets at Moscow Philarmony website

Pyatnitsky Choir

Pyatnitsky Choir was founded back in 1910 by 18 peasants. Now it's most renowned folk choir in Russia with more than 100 members, they make performances all across the world. Besides choir, it also has a dancing group. Therefore, most of their performances are a  combination of popular Russian folk songs and dances.

Igor Moiseev Ballet

Established in 1937 by Igor Moiseyev, the ballet is consistently acclaimed throughout the world as the greatest of all folk dance groups. Their repertoire includes dances of multiple nations, including Russian, West Europeans, CIS, Caucasus. 

 

We recommend you to look at their famous "Sailors dance".

Berezka Dance Ensemble

This is the first choice if you'd like to look at traditional Russian dances. Berezka is a choreographic ensemble of Russian dance organized in 1948. Every concert of Berezka starts with a  traditional Russian girls circle dance, called the Khorovod, in which they perform the famous sliding step in which they hardly appear to move.

The Ossipov Balalaika orchestra

Russia is associated with balalaika, national 3-string instrument. In fact, there's a huge variety of Russian folk instruments, enough to form an orchestra. Osipov orchestra is one of the most famous folk instruments orchestras and, of course, plays not only balalaikas. During their performances, they play Russian folk melodies and, sometimes, popular songs of Soviet time.

At this link you may listen to their performance of popular Russian folk song "Svetit mesyats" ("Moon shines")

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There's a huge number of other talented ensembles in Russia, in this post we mentioned only the most famous ones. But you might want to check other folk performances when you come to Russia either at meloman.ru (Moscow Philarmony) or mmdm.ru (Moscow International Music Hall) websites.

 

Russian Souvenirs

Dear guests, it hurts our eyes seeing you buying overpriced mass production at top tourist places. We want to share a few recommendations on places where you can buy smth authentic and lovely. 

Russian traditional toys

When we order traditional toys as gifts ourselves, we contact local painters in Sergiev Posad who produce amazing handcrafted toys. At this picture, I'm in the house of one of the painters.  Sometimes we visit these artists during our Sergiev Posad walking tour. 

 

Easier options include:

- Izmailovo market, some very good artists bring their products there;

- online shops, such as  "Russkie Remesla

- online platforms, this might be the best option, as you see a handcrafted production of all kinds and price levels, you can directly contact a master and make an order (you might use google translate for writing). The most popular one is https://www.livemaster.com/ ("Masters' fair-market"), through which you can find hand-made masterpieces of different kinds and buy them from the artisans directly. You might also check "traditional dolls" and "Russian style" (includes matreshka, plates, scarfs)  

Moscow symbolics production

 

Instead of mass T-shirts and hats with Moscow and Russian symbolics you can get amazing things, for example, at: 

 

"Naivno Ochen" ("Very Naive") - besides that they make amazing products, they also support people with disabilities who become their artists. And they make very creative and funny pictures. You can find a T-shirt or sweater with Moscow symbolics, but also with portraits of Pushkin, Tolstoy, Akhmatova and other Russian famous writers. or just funny animals. My favorite one is "The cat is dreaming of a sausage". 

 

 

Also, some really interesting stuff is sold at museums, for example, Moscow Museum of Modern History has interesting cups and t-shirts with Moscow/Russian symbolics in its shop. 

Books and pictures of Moscow

For books, calendars and posters we recommend you to check Russian biggest online store ozon.ru

 

For example, here's our favorite calendars of Moscow:

Moscow in paintings

Old photos of Moscow

 

There's a large variety of books with pictures and stories of Moscow. The ones we would pick are:

Moscow in illustration of artists with stories (in Russian and English)

Moscow is photos of 1920-1930th

 

If you're interested in Soviet posters, there's plenty. For example"

Soviet advertising posters

Soviet propaganda posters

 

 

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Russian Sweets

Nowadays, in shops and cafes of Moscow, you'll see basically the same assortment of chocolates and cakes as in other European cities. But still, the following Russian traditional sweets are popular and really worth trying, you might also bring them home as souvenirs:

Pastila (fruit fudge)

Pastila is a Russian sweet known since 14th century. It's traditionally made out of apple puree, honey with additives of berries and egg white, baked for many hours in Russian oven. The most famous pastila comes from Kolomna and  Belev towns which have multiple century traditions of its production. You can find Belev and Kolomna pastilas in multiple shops, a lot of different tastes are available. My personal favorite is black current. It can be stored for a long time and you can bring it to your home country.

Pryaniki (Russian gingerbread)

Pryaniki are known as Russian gingerbread, but unlike European gingerbreads, these are soft cakes baked with the addition of honey, various types of spices, sometimes with jam filling. They're known in Russia since 9th century. The most famous ones are Tula gingerbreads, big printed cakes with jam or condensed milk inside. Pryaniki are sold everywhere but the best and fresh ones you can buy in Tula region. 

 

Close to pryaniki is another Russian sweat bread, "kovrizhka". It's baked out of similar gingerbread dough with honey and spices, but the end product is softer than pryaniki. The best kovrizhkas, in our opinion, are sold in Troitse-Sergiyeva Lavra. In Moscow you can find them in "VkusVill" chain.

Pirozhki (small pies)

Pies exist in many cuisines, in Russia they're extremely popular. Russian pirozhkis are small baked pies with all kinds of fillings: sweet (made of berries and fruits) or non-sweet (fish, meat, vegetables, eggs). You can find pirozhkis all over the place, including shops and bakeries. We personally like to buy pirozhkis in monastery bakeries (eg Vysoko-Petrovsky monastery and Donskoy monastery). If you go there, check the bakeries. 

Med (Honey)

Honey and honey-based products are the traditional sweets in Russia. In our shops you can find a large variety of honey, incl flower, linden, buckwheat, honey with nuts.

The best place to buy honey is, of course, "Honey Fair" at Kolomenskoe held during August-September each year where thousands of professional beekepers come and you can taste unimaginable types of honey. Traditionally, the best honey is considered to come from Bashkiriya, but you rather trust your own taste.

In the rest period we personally buy honey at markets directly from beekeepers, the most well-known market is Dorogomilovo. 

Chak-Chak and Talkysh

Both sweets are honey-based and are traditional sweets of Muslim nations in Russia. Chak-chak is made out of flour, eggs, and honey, and comes in two forms: balls or sticks form. You can find it in many shops, but probably the best place for it is a "Bekhetle" shops, founded by entrepreneurs from Tatarstan (you can find their shop at Tverskaya street).

Also, in "Bekhetle" shops you can find the second traditional Muslim sweet, much less known than Chak-chak but not less delicious. "Talkysh Kaleve" is white soft cones made out of honey. They're extremely difficult to make and, therefore, for many years they were prepared for only big events like weddings.

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Useful mobile apps

Below we talk about some mobile apps which would be useful in Moscow

Taxi App

Three most popular taxi app in Moscow are:

- Uber

- GetTaxi

- YandexTaxi

 

All of them work well and available in English language. Usually, you might get a taxi within 5 minutes, like in most European cities and the price is cheap. A 20-minute car-trip in Moscow can cost just around 5-10 USD. You might also use them for getting from and to the airport.

Moscow sightseeing apps

You might have noticed barcodes on historical Moscow buildings. You're supposed to use them with "Uznai Moskvy" ("Learn Moscow") application. To be honest, these barcodes rarely work. But still, with this application, you might learn a lot about Moscow old streets and buildings. And the texts are available in English.

Food ordering

These applications can really save you if you're not in the mood to go outside or cook.  They can bring most popular Moscow restaurants to your table, and to be honest, we often use them ourselves. Two most popular food order applications are "FoodFox" and "Delivery club", both have a large variety of restaurants included. If you live in the center, you probably will like "FoodFox" more since the delivery time is very short (around 30-40 minutes). However, it doesn't work or the choice is extremely limited outside of Moscow Garden Ring. In this case, you can use "Delivery club" which covers and serves a large area, including outside Moscow, but the delivery time is longer (around 90 minutes).

Public transport app

We highly recommend you to install you Yandex Transport app. This will be of enormous help when you're walking through Moscow. It'll show you public transport routes (trams, buses, and trolleybus), stops, timetable and waiting time of the transport in the real time. 

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