The entire structure is a gorgeous testament to Russian architecture with its mix of medieval-inspired buttresses and modern steel fixtures. The glass roof allows natural light to flood this three-story palace of a mall, paying homage to the London train stations of old. The façade is composed of stunning red granite, marble, and limestone, stretching for 794 ft along the eastern side of Red Square. Concrete walkways connect the three levels of the arcade inside.
The GUM has been many things. Before the revolution of 1917 it contained 1200 stores of various fashions and trinkets. Stalin converted this magnificent building into offices in 1928, and in 1932 it became a somber display for the body of Stalin's second wife. It did not reopen as a department store until 1953, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union it passed through numerous private owners. In 2005 it was bought by a supermarket chain and since then has been one of Moscow's main tourist attractions.
What is more, there is a similar historic department store in Moscow that rivals GUM in size, elegance, and opulent architecture. It is the Central Universal Store (Tsentralniy Universalniy Magazin, abbreviated as TsUM) that sprawls just east of the Bolshoi Theater.