The term Gostinyi dvor (Гостиный двор), literally translated as “guest court” or “merchant yard”, defines a Russian indoor market or shopping center.
These types of structures originated around the 15th and the 16th centuries, and they were originally squares or galleries where merchants came together and managed their businesses. These places evolved into bigger buildings with shops, and merchants of other cities could sell their wares there. Gostiny dvors became prominent in every large Russian town during the start of the 19th century, and they are great examples of Neoclassical architecture.
Two of the biggest gostinyi dvors are, of course, the ones of the two capitals. The gostinyi dvor in Moscow is located in Kitai-gorod (Китай-Город). It was first constructed of bricks at the end of the 16th century, and was replaced by a Neoclassical building with Corinthian columns and arcades, designed by Giacomo Quarenghi in 1789. The most famous gostiny dvor is the one in St. Petersburg: it was the largest shopping centre of the city, and one of the first shopping arcades in the world. Initially designed by Bartolomeo Rastrelli, it was subsequently built on a project by Jean-Baptiste Vallin de la Mothe. Nowadays, it includes more than 100 shops.