There are no magnificent palaces and medieval castles in Kharkiv. But a few hundred years ago noblemen and wealthy people lived here in gorgeous mansions and luxury manors. Wars and revolutions ruined the splendid samples of architecture, but some of them are preserved till nowadays.
Despite the fact that Kharkiv region is not rich in famous estates, the authorities do not really care about what’s left of architectural masterpieces. Most of these buildings are in a rather deplorable state, and if nothing changes, they will probably disappear. The results of occasional pathetic attempts at restoration do not last long, so the process needs to be repeated in a year or two.
The most destroyed building, which Kharkivites call “The Roof of the World” because its half-ruined roof offers a stunning view of the city, is located in the downtown on Teatralnyi Lane. Leonid Terven developed its project back in 1910.
Before the communist revolution, wealthy people lived in this house. The ceilings had a molding of angels holding a laurel wreath in their hands. The central staircase was made of white marble. After the revolution, the house was turned into communal apartments building. In 1980 after the fire had occurred the tenants were evicted.
In the late 80’s, another attempt to reconstruct the building was made, but this idea was quickly abandoned. The plan to relocate the regional medical library to the building in the 90’s was destined not to come true either. Even now no one wants to deal with its reconstruction. As this is a historic building, demolishing is forbidden.
Another ghost building located on Blagovischenska Street is known as Mussuri Theater named after entrepreneur Herasym Mussuri. He bought this building in 1911 to launch the largest in the world and the most beautiful in Europe circus with a capacity of 5750 seats. Because of the project unprofitability, the circus was converted into an opera house, where Fedor Shaliapin performed. Then Mussuri went broke, and the theater changed ownership multiple times.
In 1929 the first operetta theater in Ukraine was established there. The building also served political purposes: the decision of Ukraine to join the Soviet Union was declared here, and the first constitution of Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted within these walls.
The building was reconstructed many times. Thus the facades once made in the Art Nouveau style completely lost its original appearance. In 1987 the theater was recognized in critical condition.
The building was sold in 2005. The new owner planned to open a casino here. However, the construction has never started as investors have abandoned the project. Now the building is surrounded by a fence of slate and barbwire.
Another masterpiece built in 1910 is located on Rizdviana Street. The construction has a monolithic reinforced concrete frame, and the facades are almost completely glazed. Initially, it was a manufacture, and in 90’s it became a casino. This building is known as Chicago School, since it is one of the most striking examples of constructive modernism in Kharkiv. Despite its current state the house is still attractive and offers impressive views of the Annunciation and Assumption Cathedrals.
These are just a few of many remarkable buildings with a rich history in Kharkiv. And Kharkiv region has a dozen manors requiring urgent restoration. The most well known are located in Nataliivka, Old Merchik, Liubotyn, Rakitne, and Malyzhino.
The most popular among tourists is Sharivka palace complex of sugar manufacturer Leopold Koenig, founded at the beginning of the XIX century. It consists of a landscape park, palace, and many other buildings. The Soviets had a tuberculosis sanatorium here. In 2008 it was closed, the building was disinfected, and the facade was restored. The estate is remarkable first of all for its extraordinary architecture. The castle is maintained in a decent state.
Many other museums and historical buildings in the city and beyond are waiting to know their fate. So enjoy them, while they last.
Text: Anastasia Mitrofanova