Kharkiv - Rosa Luxembourg Square

Kharkiv Travel Blog

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In the background — the view of the dwelling house with downstairs store at the junction of Constitution Square and Rosa Luxembourg Square
The view of Rosa Luxembour Square opens from the University hill. At different times it was called Lobna, Nahorna, Narodna, Torhova, Pavlovska. It was also the site of the fair held on the Dormition and Holy Shroud days. The Mile Post — a stone obelisk, crowned with the metal two-headed eagle, which indicated the distances from Kharkiv to other gubernatorial towns was erected in the square. Here the governmental decrees were read out and public executions were held. Another attraction of the square was the Post-Office on the southeast corner of Universytetska street, not far from the Mile Post and the executions site. In the 19th century the square was built up with one- and two-storied buildings used predominantly for trade purposes.
The Triumphal Column dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence
There used to be a big shop, owned by merchant Pavlov, the building that stood out among the others, and which was later rebuilt as a hotel. It was destroyed during World War II.

The square acquired its current name in 1919 in the memory of Rosa Luxembourg (1871–1919) — one of the founders of the Communist Party of Germany. The Mile Post was taken away in the 1920s as it blocked the traffic.

A very interesting building is at 4, Rosa Luxembourg Square. Commissioned by the local community and built in 1912 in Ukrainian Modernist style by architect B. Korneyenko, it was called the Peasants’ House and was used as a hotel with a diner, classrooms etc.
Northern side of Rosy Luxembourg Square
At present the building houses Kharkiv City Technical Inventory Bureau. Its facade is decorated with Taras Shevchenko bas-relief placed in the hovel; the rest of the decorative elements have unfortunately been lost.t should be specially mentioned that the Ukrainian Modern style of the Peasants’ House was extremely popular in Kharkiv at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Even architects of other aesthetic principles turned to it. The arts and architecture section of the literary club became the center consolidating architects’ quest under the guidance of artist S. Vasylkovskyi. Architects and artists who preferred the national style used an ordinary village hut with its softness and silhouette plasticity as a model. They followed the traditions of people’s architecture of Kharkiv as well as other Ukrainian regions, in particular — Volyn and Podillya.
Former Merchants’ Bank and the Astoria Hotel (now Prominvestbank)

Alongside the protection of historical monuments the artists and architects also concentrated on the problems of modern architecture, construction, architectural design project competitions. The members of the club designed and constructed schools and tenant houses, industrial and transport buildings. They made sketches of interior design and murals.

The original character of these buildings is determined by specific forms of their cornices and by graphic bodies. There are about 20 houses of that type in Kharkiv, more than in any other Ukrainian city (for example, the so-called Boyko House at 44, Mirronosytska street; 46, Poltavskyi Shlyach).

Palace of Labor
This was the most organic way of integrating Kharkiv into the European architectural context, where this style was widespread at the turn of the centuries.

In 2001 the Triumphal Column dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence (sculptor A. Ridnyi, architect N. Vlasov) was added to the ensemble of the square.

Leaving behind the building of the Central Department Store, erected in 1932 by architect A. Linetskyi (reconstructed in 1954 by M. Moshovich), at 1/3, Rosa Luxembourg square, we find ourselves among very interesting buildings — the true gems of Kharkiv. Their history dates back to the late 19th and early 20th century.
Facade of the Palace of Labor
At that period our city turned into a major industrial and trade center of the Russian Empire, partially due to its favorable geographical location close to Donbass coal mines and to Krivyi Rih iron ore. It was then that the powerful industrial base of the city was laid. Foreign businessmen used to massively invest into Ukrainian industry, concluded concessions, and established joint stock companies.

Architecture responded with the creation of the types of buildings which were new to the country: a railway station, a department store, a bank, a pawnshop, a tenant house etc. Built mainly in Sumska street, which became the main one in the city, and in Nikolayevska Square (nowadays Constitution Square), these buildings formed a type of Kharkiv’s «City» — its business center. The designs were developed by talented architects from Saint Petersburg: R. Golenishev, F. Lidval, N. Veryovkin, I. Pretro, R. Genrikhsen, A. Dmitriyev, D. Rakitin, N. Vasiliev, A. Rzhepishevskiy and others.

Among these buildings there is a former Merchants’ Bank and the Astoria Hotel at 10, Rosa Luxembourg Square (architects N. Vasiliev and A. Rzhepishevskiy, 1910–1913). Today the building houses the Prominvest Bank. This unique architectural landmark (one of the first multistoried buildings with a concrete frame in the city) is a vivid example of Northern Modernist style. The unusual rhythm of multilevel bow windows, restrained by the massive pediment, an unusual form of the mansard roof, the square blocks of granite setting give the building its romantic flare.

The Merchant’s Bank used to be located on the lower floors of the building, numerous offices — on the middle ones, and the hotel — on the upper floors. The artistic impression of the building is augmented by the skillfully chiseled large masks above the doors, powerful atlantas and unusual figures on the sides of the entrances.

The whole block on the other side of the square is occupied by a single huge — even by modern standards — building, known as the Palace of Labor (the former tenant house of the All-Russian Russia Insurance Society (architect I. Petro, 1916). This is one of the many tenant houses, typical for Kharkiv, in which residential and trade premises were combined. Such houses were usually erected in trade squares and adjacent streets and usually fulfilled a certain style-forming function.

The building of the Russia Insurance Society completed the western side of former Nikolayevska Square (nowadays 1, Constitution Square) and set the construction scale for Pavlovska Square (Rosa Luxembourg Square) next to it. The six-storied trapezium-shaped neo-classical building, in addition to the street-facing sections, also had two other ones forming inner yards. Residential premises on the upper floors had a corridor-section type of layout with convenient landings in the corners and in the middle of each section in the side yards. The central yard aimed for the passage-type department store had no entrances to the stairwells. The central yard served as a passageway to Kvitka-Osnovyanenko street.

Functionally the building hasn’t changed much: there are still shops on the lower floors, the upper ones are being occupied by the regional offices of trade unions, Boards of Directors of Research and Technology groups and office premises.

The Palace of Labor connects Rosa Luxembourg Square and Constitution Square. The latter used to house almost all financial and bank establishments of the city.

Saltovka says:
Dear Viktosha, you have done such a great job! Thanks a lot!
Posted on: Feb 14, 2009
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In the background — the view of …
In the background — the view of…
The Triumphal Column dedicated to …
The Triumphal Column dedicated to…
Northern side of Rosy Luxembourg S…
Northern side of Rosy Luxembourg …
Former Merchants’ Bank and the A…
Former Merchants’ Bank and the …
Palace of Labor
Palace of Labor
Facade of the Palace of Labor
Facade of the Palace of Labor
photo by: viktosha