Lucky man of Kyiv city

Kyiv has its own legends and heroes. And one of them is outstanding architect Vladislav Gorodetskiy.  Gorodetskiy was known among Kiev citizens as a lucky man. The major secret of his luck – he did everything that he liked. He made his the craziest ideas come true.


Gorodetskiy got his adventurous spirit from his father – noble but impoverished Pol. His father took part in the Polish revolution against the Russian empire. It was a big minus in his career. Vladislav Gorodetsky was not very successful at school, but he liked painting much. He entered Art Academy in Saint Petersburg and finished it with excellent marks.

When Gorodetsky moved to Kyiv he was a poor young unknown architect who had lot competitors. However, Gorodetsky knew the principle of success: if you want to be rich you should be close to rich people. At the end of the 19th century, Kyiv went through modernization and economic development. Many rich people, especially Jewish merchants chose Kyiv for a living. They settled down mostly along Khreschatyk street. When you walk in the centre you can see beautiful buildings with an antic decoration and gorgeous statures which appeared at that time.

Moving to Kyiv Gorodetsiy became a member of prestigious hunting club where the cream of Kyiv society took part. Very soon friendly young man won the sympathy of the other members. When hunting club needed wooden shooting gallery they surely gave this order to Gorodetsky. Very soon, Gorodetsky made one more step in his successful career – he married a daughter of the owner of Kyiv vodka producing factory.

St. Nicolas cathedral projected by Gorodetskiy

After the lines of small projects the city government gave a big order to Gorodetsky. The city needed Museum of art. Gorodetsky built it in the shape of an antic church with massive colons in front. Two liens statures guarded the entrance. He had an order after an order: Catholic church, Kerait synagogue – Kenesa, the building of the central bank.

Gorodetsky became rich and famous. He liked everything modern and innovative. He had one of the first cars in the city and often citizens saw him driving his open car with a small funny monkey sitting in his shoulder.

His evenings he spent in the company of his friends another Kyiv architects. One evening as always they were spending their time in a bar near the Opera theatre and he confessed that had an idea to build a house on the stiff slop of Kyiv hills. Friends thought he was joking: “Come on – they told him – this is a crazy idea. It is impossible”.

But adventurous architect was brave enough for have a bet. “In two years – he said -I invite you my friends to an opening party in my new house”. He decided to build an unusual house. As he told: Probably not many people understand and like this project but no one would pass my house indifferently.

Not a standard project required innovative material. He decided to build his house of cement. Cement was unknown material for Kyiv that time. Kyiv citizens were very conservative and trusted only hard Kyiv bricks. That time some German interpreters opened a cement factory in Kurenivka district. People ignored them. A cement factory was close to bankruptcy. Gorodetsky knew it very well so made a deal with owners. They gave him cement for free but instead, he made an advertisement for their factory.

Frogs on the top

In exactly two years, the architect had an opening party in his new house and showed it to the guests. His house had not straight classic features. The architect built it in the shape of a cube. It had different numbers of floors on each side: six floors on the sloop and three in the opposite side. Gorodetskiy built it not only for himself, but he was going to rent it out. So, the house had seven apartments which contained from two till nine rooms. Every flat had also a rest-room, carriage section, luxurious halls with fireplaces, bedrooms, separate staircase for the service staff. More than the house had an elevator – unknown innovation for Kyiv. The architect chose the apartment for himself on the last floor. Gorodetsky was village guy who admired fresh milk. He bought a cow and made a place for her on underground floor. Every morning a servant brought up fresh milk for him by an elevator.

After the work, his hobby was the most important thing for Gorodetsky. Vyacheslav Gorodetsky was known as a crazy hunter. Every time when he had money and free time, he ran away to a wild jungle of Africa. After hunting for wild animals, he returned home happily and during long winters evening he wrote the book “In the jungles of Africa”. He illustrated his books with pictures of elephants, rhinoceros, crocodiles, gazelles, eagles and liens. Sometimes, he draw fantastic creators such as huge frogs and sea-maidens. He asked his friend French sculpture Elio Sola to decorate his house with his lovely creators. People called these fantastic creators Chimaeras and soon house got a name of House with Chimaeras.

Gorodetsky lived just for a short time in his house. After next hunting in Africa, he had got a big debt and must sell it. After the Russian revolution, 1917 he moved to Teheran there built a railway station and Shah Palace.

However, Kyiv citizens remember him forever. This outstanding man showed them that everything is possible: building a house on the slope, using new material, making different levels. Gorodetsky was one of those who turned conservative Kyiv into the modern one. 

My video about the architect 

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