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House With Chimeras

Kiev, Ukraine

The house is surely somewhat strange, but trust me, there is not one person in Kyiv who would not honor it with a glance,’ said the owner of the House with Chimeras. Vladislav Gorodetsky was an eccentric Kyivan architect of Polish descent, and it was he, who in the early 20th century built this unusual and mysterious art nouveau house. Indeed, even to this day, every passerby invariably looks at the house with awe.

Everything began in 1901, when the young architect, who came to Kyiv from St. Petersburg, bought land on Bankovaya Street for next to nothing. The place was totally unsuitable for construction, so when Gorodetsky's colleagues heard about his plan to build a big apartment house there, they called him crazy. Yet only two years after that, a building was constructed on the plot of land. Its uncanny appearance astounded not only Gorodetsky's friends, but all of Kyiv’s inhabitants.

The house strikes first and foremost with its ‘two-facedness.’ Located on a hill, the cube-like house looks like a three-floor building from one side, but like a six-floor building from another! Its roof and walls are fancifully decorated with figures of mythical creatures and wild animals: nymphs and mermaids, dolphins and crocodiles, rhinoceroses and elephants, whose hanging trunks serve drains. All sculptures were based on Gorodetsky's sketches and made by Italian sculptor Elia Sala.

The building’s interior is as extravagant as its exterior and it reflects the architect's passion for hunting. The walls are decorated with taxidermies of birds, antlers, and other trophies, as well as with images of Diana - the goddess of hunting. On the contrary, the front lobby is designed as a seabed. One of the numerous legends about the house claims that the interior’s marine themes are a result of the architect building the house to commemorate his daughter, who supposedly drowned herself in Dnieper’s rapids after having her heart broken. However, many view this legend with skepticism: Kyiv’s residents all say that the architect’s daughter lived a long enough live to see her grandchildren.

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