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Perhaps even haunted. They certainly look the part

Not many people think of a sleepy Russian countryside as a place for gothic-styled castles, but here they are - proud, beautiful, one-of-a-kind architectural gems, unjustly forgotten and sadly abandoned....

Apparently some Russian architects of the 19th century visited Europe often enough to be influenced by medieval castles and French-style palaces. Among them was architect P. S. Boitzov, who built a number of fancy castle-like mansions in Moscow area:

1.Muromtzevo Masion, between Murom and Vladimir

One Boitzov's wealthy client, V. Khrapovitzky, decided to erect a real thing instead of poor imitations. For him it was a matter of winning a bet and keeping his honor - so Boitzov had to come up with the authentic French-style palace with huge sculpted gardens and a extensive system of lakes and fountains:

Today it's an extensive maze of imposing buildings and overgrown gardens, a sad but strangely compelling place:

Khrapovitsky emigrated to France with the first sign of Bolshevik trouble, and his palatial grounds were left to decay ever since.

The story gets even more haunting, when a letter from Khrapovitsky wife was found recently, addressed to "the good old peasants" of Muromtzevo in 1928 with the plea to send some money: apparently Khrapovitsky died in utter poverty and their only possession was this land in Russia... The response of "liberated" peasants was simple: a four-letter word suggestion.

(images credit: Natalia Bondareva)

2. Beautiful Uspenskoe Mansion, Moscow area, near Zvenigorod.

One of the last owners of this castle was Sergei Morozov, who allowed many prominent Russian painters (including Levitan) to live in this house. It actually boggles the mind (keeping in mind the rich cultural history of the place, and it's sheer architectural beauty) that all this time it was left in ruins...

(photos by Elena & Dmitry Terkel)

3. English-style Vasilievskoe, also near Zvenigorod.

Architectural style: Victorian Neo-Gothic
Famous people who lived here: Political writer Herzen, "father of Russian socialism"
Appropriate mood: gothic horror novels.

(photos by Elena & Dmitry Terkel)

4. Eltzin's Retreat Area - Barvikha, near Odintzovo.

Another imposing Boitzov's creation is this neo-gothic castle-like mansion, close to the famous house of Boris Eltzin. Lenin liked to spend time here, too... I don't blame him. Former castle Mayendorf is sublimely unique and will hold its own among the best of European mansions.

Here is Eltzin's dacha nearby:

This proximity turned out to be most beneficial for the mansion's future - it's being restored (to the tune of 250 million dollars) into Podushkino Castle. Here is a glimpse of how it looks today:

(images credit: mosres)

Such a happy ending is not common, by any means. Some mansions were restructured to house scientific research facilities, and even hospitals, but most are still abandoned and in pitiful condition today.

All these mansions were designed by vastly underrated and essentially forgotten architect P. S. Boitzov. Here is illuminated fountain he designed on the Lubyanka Square (yes, the same square that KGB used later), decorated for coronation of Russian Tzar Nikolai II:

Article written using materials from proselki.ru, Lentka and Aleksei Gorev.

Miniature Crimean Castle


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Blogger Mango said...

another amazing post. is there anyone else out there who would just love to drop everything and devote oneself to the rehabilitation of these beautiful castles/mansions? not just here, but in other post as well, all that architecture and beauty seems to just be tossed to the way side. i've got to get citizenship in some other countries :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure reminds me of Bannermans Island.

Anonymous Marc said...

Interesting article, but I have to say that nearly all of these look like vanilla mansions with some turrets stuck in -- not what I would call breathtaking works of originality.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's also a very popular abandoned castle in Belgium, Chateau Noissy


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Boris Jeltzin, not Eltzin.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 more castles from germany come to my mind
the "Wartburg" and "Königstein Fortress"
but i dont know, where u can find apropriate pictures for this great website

Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually eltzin is much closer to the correct pronunciation then jeltzin.
I wonder how much some of those properties cost.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Apparently some Russian architects of the 19th century visited Europe often enough to be influenced by medieval castles and French-style palaces"

Are you kidding me? Is neither the writer of this article, nor the editor aware of any basic European history, art or culture from before WW2?


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