The Castle of Baron in Kyiv
The history Castle of Baron Steingel.
One of the main ornaments in old Kyiv is undoubtedly this building, which townsfolk call the Castle of Baron – although it has nothing to do with any Baron, alive or dead! Although one did live in a close-by neighboring estate – a winemaker and entrepreneur Maxim Steinheil – but he had no connection with the castle. This house was built towards the end of 19 century (1898) in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles. It was commissioned by Mikhail Podgorsky, a land owner of Polish origin, who employed the talented architect and civil engineer Nikolai Dobachevsky. So, he built one of the most famous buildings in Kyiv – but his life and career was not a happy one. This is the only example of his work that survives today – it looks just like a castle from a fairytale. Originally, there were magnificent fireplaces with beautiful tiles, splendid stucco ceilings, and the entrance to the building spelt out the word “Salve” (Hello!) in the mosaic floor. Menacing gargoyles on its facade did not make the house less welcoming. Originally, there were three apartments arranged for guests (including the owner), as well as small rooms for servants. The first floor has at different times been a cozy cafe with its own top-quality pastries, and then a cinema. After 1917, the once luxurious apartments were turned into multi-room communal flats (with kitchen and toilet facilities shared by several families). And the first floor tenants were shown the door. As an historical, architectural monument, the house is now under state protection , but overall, it is in a sorry state. The spire-crowned turret and the two chimeras that “guard” the entrance are still here but as for its former luxury and opulence only traces remain. However the mosaic tile entrance still gives you a cheery “Salve” as you approach.
This article was published in the book Interesting Kyiv.
You could download this book in PDF file for free here.
© Sky Horse Publishing House (Kyiv) / Nahs Haus, 2019
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