Kharkiv - Constitution Square (Part 2)

Kharkiv Travel Blog

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Former Fraternal House of the Dormition Cathedral

A building with protruding windows and a small tower on the corner of the square and the avenue catches one’s eye. Erected in 1849 in classical traditions by architect R. Danylov for clergy visitors, it initially used to have three floors. It was called the Fraternity House of the Dormition Cathedral and was one of the first multistoried buildings in town. In 1900 the house was overhauled by architects B. Mykhalovskyi and M. Lovtsov and got its present look. Today it houses various companies and organizations.


Further up the eastern side of the square there starts a row of the most interesting bank buildings dating back to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Buildings in the north-eastern part of Constitution Square
They created a splendid architectural ensemble of the former Nikolayevska Square.

Banks began playing a major role in the country’s economy in the second half of the 19th century. Thus their buildings, forming the business part of the city, were of primary importance for its development. It was an absolutely new architectural type emerging in the capitalism era when the rapid growth of trade, manufacture, railway roads resulted in the ever increasing demand for new buildings whose architecture and functional load were different from the more patriarchal houses.

As architectural landmarks of a particular historical period the banks reflected its artistic tendencies. Their facades, faced with expensive stone, decorated with columns, sculptures and portals became a characteristic feature of business Kharkiv.
Pedimeent of the former Saint-Petersburg International Commercial Bank (Now the Kharkiv Regional Administration of Oshchadbank OJS Company)
The exteriors were emphatically monumental: solemn, secure facades were aimed to demonstrate their owners’ reliability, respectability and financial power.

The first in the row was the Commercial Bank. It was erected in 1896 by the design of the academician of architecture A. Beketov for the Azov-Don Bank. In 1914 architect L. Terven reconstructed it for another financial establishment. The building’s present look has been preserved since then. The Central Lecture Hall had been housed here for many years, nowadays most of the building is occupied by shops.

Further along there is a traffic circle from where Korolenko Street and Pushkinska Street start. It used to be the site of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral demolished while laying the broad-gauge tramway road.
Kharkiv Automobile Transport College (former Land Bank)
The Underground crossing leading to the Radyanska metro station is located here nowadays. From the traffic circle there is a good view of the Korolenko State Scientific Library, built by architect A. Beketov in 1901. In the 1970s a new book-stacks building and a  two-storied reading hall were added to the library.

Right next to the entry to the underground crossing on the corner with Pushkinska Street there is a highrise apartment block with the drugstore on the first floor built in the 1950s by architects V. Kostenko and E. Ponomareva on the site of the former Kharkiv’s best Metropol hotel demolished during World War II. The new building was skillfully incorporated into the existing ensemble with the aid of well-coordinated horizontal sections and the continuation of the ground-floor shop windows lines.
Arts fair near the old pawn shop building


Further along, on the eastern side of the square there stands the building of the Saint Petersburg International Bank (architect V. Velichko, 1913), nowadays - Kharkiv Regional Office of the Open Joint-Stock Oshchadbank Company (22, Constitution Square). The building is completed in the French Renaissance style. The natural-stone Ionic columns on both sides of the main entrance look very solid as if commanding respect to the clients of the bank. The inscription in the upper part of the facade has been preserved since the pre-revolution times.

The following three buildings were constructed by the design of the architect academician A. Beketov. They are the former Volga-Kama Bank (24, Constitution Square, 1908), today - V. Afanasiev Puppet Theatre; Trade Bank (26, Constitution Square, 1898), nowadays - The House of Science and Engineering; Land Bank (28, Constitution Square), today Kharkiv Automobile Transport College.

In the building of the Volga-Kama Bank A. Beketov didn’t aspire to integrate his new creation into the already existing construction on this site. The central part is decorated with broad pylons which are topped by symbolic rostrum relieves. The wave-like cornice with a bright mosaic insert accentuates the central part of the facade. The form of the wall piers is quite unusual due to the original elements typical for the Modernist style. The reconstruction of the bank building for the needs of the Puppet Theatre required some changes in the interior layout and design. Stained glass, panels, copper hammering, decorative plants - all these imparted a certain festiveness to the theatre premises (artists A. Shchehlov, I. Mitskevichute, V. Mayatskiy, Yu. Brezvin). The facade is decorated with the panel of stylized children figures (artist A. Shchehlov).

The Trade Bank and the Volga-Kama Bank, despite having an unequal number of stories, are architecturally coordinated by the same height of the base and cornice. At the same time the building of the Trade Bank preserves its individuality due to the influence of the West-European Modern style noticeable in its design. During the war it was destroyed, and in the course of the 1951 reconstruction architect N. Podhornyi sought to take into account the surrounding buildings.

The architectural ensemble of the square is completed by the Land Bank (28, Constitution Square), today - Kharkiv Automobile Transport College. The bank was the first joint-stock company in Russia and had landlord clients in 18 provinces. Quite naturally the facade of the building had to have a very respectable look. The two-storied building with huge arched windows had a stone parapet on top. The interior design was lavish and elegant. The building was reconstructed in 1952 by architects H. Sikharulidze and A. Leibfreid.

The life and work of one of the biggest bankers, industrialists and patrons of the city A. Alchevskyi, whose whole family was very active in public life and charity, is connected with the Land Bank.

Almost across from the banks is the old Pawnshop, whose design was influenced by the motives of

Old-Russian architecture (architect B. Korneyenko, 1908). The facade of the building was facing Universytetska Street (# 5) and its back was overlooking the square.

Such lack of respect can be easily explained. At that time pawnshop’s backside was hidden from the eyes by the House of Nobility Conventions (1814), destroyed in the wartime. Today there is a small park in its place with the monument (1975), dedicated to proclaiming the Soviet power in Ukraine, in the middle.

On the square corners there are entrances to the underground metro stations «Radyanska» and «History Museum».

Kharkiv History Museum, located in the former pawnshop building, is worth special mentioning. Today it is one of Ukraine’s biggest museums, as well as a leading research center in the fields of country studies and museum studies. Its unique collection comprises about 250 thousand precious artifacts, including separate collections of paintings, banners, medals, weapons, genuine documents of different epochs, photographs, archeological findings and coins.

Bursatskyi Spusk is another special place. It formed on the place of the ravine and connects Constitution Square with Klochkovska Street sliding gently towards the Lopan river. The most noticeable building on this stretch of our tour is the former Seminary (architects B. Pokrovskyi and T. Tolkunov, 1885), today - the central building of Kharkiv State Academy of Culture. Built in 1825 as a regional college on the Bursa territory by architect E. Vasiliev, it was later reconstructed and turned into the Seminary. Kharkiv legends tell us stories about the life of Kharkiv Bursa students whose studies abounded with facts, that became well-known thanks to the book by G. Pomyalovskyi «Bursa Notes», such as: scarce nutrition and severe punishments.

The only salvation for the students praised for their erudition was to be invited as home teachers while on vacation. That’s when they could at last have enough food and rest.

One of the most picturesque and exclusive Kharkiv words - «raklo» - is also connected with this establishment. It means petty thief, cheater. Its etymology comes back to ancient Hercules, and Bursa students who often stole pies from the vendors in the nearby Annunciation Marketplace, must have used this word in their speech. Kharkiv residents changed it to their taste, and this is not the only example of this kind. For example a clothes hanger is called «trempel» after the name of the hangers factory owner. This word may be very misleading for a stranger unfamiliar with the Kharkiv slang.

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Former Fraternal House of the Dorm…
Former Fraternal House of the Dor…
Buildings in the north-eastern par…
Buildings in the north-eastern pa…
Pedimeent of the former Saint-Pete…
Pedimeent of the former Saint-Pet…
Kharkiv Automobile Transport Colle…
Kharkiv Automobile Transport Coll…
Arts fair near the old pawn shop b…
Arts fair near the old pawn shop …
Kharkiv
photo by: viktosha