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A monster at the 6th floor of the building at 8a Velyka Zhytomyrska Str looks down at the passers-by, who very rarely care to look up to spot it.
No, it’s not a suspense story, neither is it a harrowing detective. It’s about “monsters” made of stone, plaster and other materials that adorn some of the old houses of Kyiv.
Oles ILCHENKO saw some of them.
Photos by Olena Krushynska
It is mostly visitors to Kyiv who notice them rather than inhabitants of the city who have gotten quite accustomed to their presence on the walls, under the balconies and in other, sometimes quite unexpected and rather inconspicuous places.
During the construction boom of the end of the nineteenth-early twentieth century, various architectural styles intermingled procuring an eclectic but impressive and charming cocktail. Neo-Gothic seemed to have been particularly popular then, and some rather scary creatures began to crawl on vertical walls, perch on the corners or lurk under the balconies.
Creatures from fables and fairy tales of old and of more recent inventions, gods of antiquity, mermaids, fauns, grimacing or smiling faces, heads with no bodies attached, plus a lot of other stone apparitions made their conspicuous appearances in various parts of town.
Some of them have remained conspicuous but Kyiv dwellers have long stopped noticing them. If they are paid any attention to, it is by children or tourists. Neither the children nor the tourists seem to be ever frightened by them, even though among little devils one can spot bigger and menacing ones. But probably they were never actually meant to frighten — just to make someone smile or simply to provide decorative elements.
Anyway, they are still there, and without them, the city would have lost one of its charms.
Guardians of the National Bank of Ukraine (9 Instytutska Str).
A smiling face on the building at 32 Volodymyrska Str which was restored by the famous early-twentieth century architect V. Horodetsky.
These two creatures made their appearance rather recently on one of the buildings in Kostelna Street.
All sorts of monsters crawl on the walls and roof of the House with Chimeras in Bankova Str in Kyiv.
The face of this cat is believed to be “a self-portrait” of the architect Pavlo Alyoshyn (1/15 Pylyp Orlyk Str).
The building at 28/31 Yaroslaviv Val was liberally provided with dragons by their architect M. Yaskevych.
A leering creature bearing its teeth at 8a Velyka Zhytomyrska Str.
There is very little that has been left of the original small building near the part of town known as Lukyanivka.
This creature lives above one of the 18th-century gates to the 11th-century Cathedral of Holy Sophia in Kyiv (now this gate faces Heorhiyivsky Provulok side street).
This monstrous face on the fountain in the public garden at Mykhaylivska Sq is believed to be a caricature of the foreman whose brigade built this fountain about a 100 years ago — it was the way the workers took their revenge on the too fussy foreman.
The docile monster at one of the children grounds of Kyiv landed there quite recently.