Although situated a little distance from the centre of Moscow, Vernisazh in Izmailovo (Вернисаж в Измайлово) is easy to find as it is marked by the colorful “second Kremlin” at its entrance. Flea markets in Russia are known and loved for the opportunities they provide for visitors to interact with and experience local culture, and Vernisazh in Izmailovo delivers this in spades.
Vernisazh in Izmailovo is the largest market in Moscow and one of the most famous. It is also the largest applied-art market in the world. It holds a fantastic atmosphere of the old Russian market, captured by the vendors of course but also in the set-up; traditional wooden trade rows display items ranging from matryoshki (nesting dolls), and lacquered wooden box, to Soviet posters, badges, bronze busts, antique coins, carpets, and vintage books. The best antiques are found on the second floor of this vast flea market.
Open through most of the week but exceedingly more popular (for both vendors and shoppers) on the weekends, Vernisazh in Izmailovo is the place to come for any souvenir desired and of course provides opportunity for a treasured antique for the right collector. As always, it is best to arrive at the crack of dawn to find the very best and most unique goods, though of course it is as the close of business approaches that bargains are most likely.
Bargaining is certainly encouraged at Vernisazh in Izmailovo, however vendors know the value of their offerings and are unlikely to negotiate much more than a 10% reduction on their initial price. But it is through a good bartering effort that the best conversations are often born, and this can often be as valuable at the item at stake.
There is a small fee to enter Vernisazh in Izmailovo, which gives access to a huge souvenir market, as well as the Kremlin and a couple of museums within. There are refreshments to be found, which is great as a day can easily be spent checking out this sprawling and excellent market.