In Depth News Science, 01/02/2018

Historical Stroll along Pushkinska Street: in Search of Curiosities

Pushkinska street is one of the main streets of Kharkiv, stretching for more than five kilometers in the city center with a large variety of amazing buildings.

However, in 1805 this street was in the outskirts of Kharkiv and the families of German specialists, who were invited by Vasyl Karazin to teach at the Imperial University (today’s Karazin Kharkiv National University), settled here, having formed a micro German community.

It was initially called Nimetska (German in Ukrainian) and had a Lutheran Church. The street was named Pushkinska in 1899, on the centenary anniversary of the birth of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.

A number of architectural monuments, historic houses, universities and parks are situated in Pushkinska Street. A beautiful three-story building number 14 is known as “a house with griffins” because these peculiar stone creatures are part of its design. It was built in 1911, over a century ago, by the famous architect Oleksiy Beketov for the medical society, which opened a bacteriological station inside. Today, Mechnikov Research Institute of Microbiology and Immunology occupies these premises.

Another of Oleksiy Beketov’s masterpieces is house number 77, which was the architect’s first building created in Kharkiv for a commercial school. Today, it is the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University. The house opposite it is another Law University’s building, which used to be an orphan asylum for the local noble families’ children, who lived and studied there. The orphanage was funded out of donations from local businessmen.

Not far from here you can see the oldest hostels of the Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute built in 1931. Even today, this is one of the largest campuses in the city, which is called appropriately “The Giant.” The building presents a model of constructivist architecture.

Kharkiv’s famous Synagogue is located up the street. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century on the site of a prayer house. This is the second largest synagogue in Europe with a dome towering 42 meters high, only Budapest’s Synagogue is taller.  The Soviets closed the synagogue in 1923, turning it into a Jewish working club, later a children’s cinema and Spartak sports center were located there. The synagogue was restored after Ukraine attained independence in 1991.

The well-known Ukrainian writer and director Oleksander Dovzhenko lived in 62 Pushkinska St, which is the regional center of culture and art today. The writer’s modest room was on the third floor.

The mysteries and curiosities of one of the oldest streets in the heart of Kharkiv attract tourists, artists and architecture lovers.

Text: Olena Sokolynska