Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Address: Bankovskaya (Bank) street, 10

House with Chimeras is, perhaps, the most known building in Kiev. Now the house is settled down in the centre of Kiev, in about twenty metres from the Palace of the president of Ukraine, but in the beginning of 20 century it was not so. The area, located at breakage over drained Goat bog (now there is a National academic drama theatre of Ivan Franko), was considered unsuitable for building. That is why Vladislav Gorodetskiy's decision to build a house there surprised everybody.

Full name of Polish architect is Leshek Dezidery Vladislav Gorodetskiy, that is the name of the author of the modern style building, which became one of the main architectural monuments of Kiev. House with Chimeras grew at Kiev hill in 1902-1903. It was the first building in Kiev, constructed with use of new material – cement. Realization of such project could also serve as advertising action of production of industrialist Richter, who was engaged in cement manufacture. To create a steady basis for the house, standing at abrupt hill, about 50 concrete piles were hammered to 5-metres depth. It has three floors from the Bankovaya street and six floors from the theatre of Ivan Franko.

Exterior decor of the house and its interiors do not iterated anywhere, not only architect’s imagination and skill are reflected in them, but also his passion to hunting. The building is unforgettable outside. The facade is ornated by figures of real and mythical beings. Here there are mermaids, stretching their nets; dolphins, sea reptiles, crocodiles, huge toads, water-lilies of fantastic size; heads of rhinoceroses and antelopes; lizards, running on harmonous columns; eagles, spreading their wings; elephants with trunks, serving as drains during rain.

Internal interiors are also fanciful. The fixture in the shape of a huge catfish and lotus stalks shines thr stair landing, the stucco moulding at the ceiling represents an octopus, and the sinking ships and skulls remind us about storming sea. The rooms are also painted like a sea-bottom. The fantastic birds seat on the both sides of the front white marble staircase and hold it in there claws. Initially the house was built as rented. Six of seven apartments were leased to men of means –the habitation of such level was too expensive for other lodgers.

It is known, that Gorodetskiy bought one more plot for building of second house, but his passion for hunting brought him to Africa, and the financial costs of this trip made new building too expensive for the architect. He also had to pledge House with Chimeras, which he never returned. It was in 1912, and in 1913 House with Chimeras was bought by Daniel Balahovskiy, who was an agent of French consulate in Kiev. During the period after October revolution and before Great Patriotic War, House with Chimeras was a communal flat. After Second World War the House became Central Committee KPU hospital. In 2003-2004, the reconstruction of the building was conducted and according to expert’s estimations cost about 30-40 million dollars. Internal interiors of the house, paintings, parquet were restored. After the restoration the house got status of Small residence of the president of Ukraine and now it is intended for reception of foreign delegations.

In the building of House with Chimeras the museum cultural centre "Masterpieces of art of Ukraine", which is the branch of National museum, acts. Museum exhibits include various objects of arts and crafts, picturesque canvas, sculptures. The museum pride is "Ostrozhskaya Bible" of Ivan Fedorov's print (1581), bronze ware, manufactured in 16 century B.C., and other curiosities.

Legends and myths:

According to one of versions, the idea of house building found an unexpected reinforcement in dispute. Once, in 1902, three architects: Alexander Kobelev, Vladimir Leontovich and Vladislav Gorodetskiy met in one of Kiev restaurants. During their friendly conversation Gorodetskiy told, that he had bought a cheap plot at Bankovaya street and was going to build a house there. Knowing about an unfitness of this plot for any kind of building, the colleagues were inexpressibly surprised and expressed their scepticism concerning Gorodetskiy's invention. Then the architects made a wager. According to conditions of the bet Gorodetskiy had to build a house at the hill within 2 years and that was executed with unprecedented scope and success. At the party on the occasion of completion of building work, Gorodetskiy told: "Of course the house is strange, but there is no one in Kiev, who could not to look at it, passing by. ". And he was right, it is impossible to pass this house indifferently. The adjoining president palace receives much less attention and delighted looks from tourists than this surprising fantastic castle.

Kiev inhabitants and guides thought up more romantic and tragic history. They said, that Gorodetskiy constructed this house in memory of daughter, who drowned in Dnieper (according to other version - in Mediterranean sea) whether from unfortunate love, whether because of disorders in home life. That’s why mad in grief father erected this crypt.

The most scandalous myth says, that the author of the project is not Gorodetsky at all, but engineer Nikolay Dobachevskiy. But there are completely no proofs for this version. All drawings are signed by Gorodetskiy, who had already declared himself as original and unusual architect in his earlier works.

House with Chimeras - Early 20th century





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