Called “the Udelka” by the locals, the Udelnaya Flea Market is described as “The social market for the poorest groups of people”. It is obvious that for many of the sellers, trading their wares is their income upon which they depend for day to day life in St Petersburg. However, among the standard second-hand household and clothing items that have clearly been in use very recently, there is also an abundance of memorabilia from World War II and many genuine items from the Soviet era. This is probably what makes Udelnaya Flea Market the most famous market in Russia.
Udelnaya Flea Market is one of the largest markets in the world, and hugely popular with both locals shopping for day to day goods and collectors searching for valuable coveted items. Early in the morning the rows of Udelnaya Flea Market fills with many professional vendors browsing the wares with a keen eye for the best buys, which they purchase at a bargain price and will be re-selling in the afternoon for a hefty profit. Therefore, an early arrival is recommended!
Tourists flock to Udelnaya Flea Market due to its reputation for genuine historical items, and the best experience will be had if accompanied by a local friend or tour guide. Bargaining is absolutely essential, and obviously this is harder to achieve successfully in broken attempts at second languages. Most of the ‘stalls’ are simply held by older pensioners spreading their belongings on blankets on the ground, and with these vendors there is always the chance to glean some informal history of St Petersburg, which for many is what makes a flea market worth visiting.
As well as the World War memorabilia there are also antique samovars, sacred images, imperial porcelain, vintage jewelry and clothing, uniforms, books and of course many a bust of Lenin to be found. The sheer amount of vendors and ‘stuff’ laying around can make the Udelnaya Flea market feel a little chaotic, but no less enjoyable besides.