Former Torgsin

Building 1, 54/2 Arbat
Subway station «Smolenskaya»
In the famous Torgsin (which stood for All-Union Association for Trade with Foreigners), it was possible to buy scarce products and goods with hard currency in the early 1930s. In The Master and Margarita, this is where the famous scene unfolds in which the cat Behemoth gulps down entire mandarins with their peels. Bulgakov would drop in here when he managed to receive commission in currency for productions of his plays abroad.
Torgsins functioned in Moscow from 1931 until 1936. E. Bulgakova described one of her visits with Bulgakov to a Torgsin in her diary when he needed a suit for a reception at an embassy: ‘Today, Mikhail and I, having first popped into see the tailor Pavel Ivanovich, went to the Torgsin. We bought good English material for eight golden rubles per metre. The salesclerk assured us it was material for dress suits. But there weren’t any starched shirts, let alone dress shirts. We bought black shoes and black silk socks’.