Taking up an entire city block, this is St. Petersburg's answer to the GUM department store in Moscow. Initially constructed by Rastrelli in 1757, it was not completed until 1785, by Vallin de la Mothe, who was responsible for the facade with its two tiers of arches. At the time the structure was erected, traveling merchants were routinely put up in guesthouses (called gostiny dvor), which, like this one, doubled as places for doing business. This arcade was completely rebuilt in the 19th century, by which time it housed some 200 general-purpose shops that were far less elegant than those in other parts of the Nevsky. It remained a functional bazaar until alterations in the 1950s and 1960s connected most of its separate shops into St. Petersburg's largest department store. Today Gostiny Dvor houses fashionable boutiques, and you can also find currency-exchange kiosks and ATMs here. On its ground floor there is a sovenier shop where you can buy all kinds of Russian traditional
soveniers such as matryoshka dolls, khokhloma painted bowls, spoons and cutting boards, as well as magnets with St. Petersburg sights and many other things to bring home as gifts. Virtually across the street, at 48 Nevsky prospekt, is the city's other major "department store," also an arcade, called Passazh, built in 1848.