Richard the Lionheart`s Castle is a poetized name of building No 15 on the famous Andriyivsky Descent in Kyiv. This architectural monument of XIX century, designed according to British gothic style, is one of the most romantic, beautiful and mysterious buildings of Ukrainian capital. Richard the Lionheart`s Castle is steeped with many mystic stories and legends.
The architecture of Richard`s Castle is really impressive: monumental facades are decorated with diverse towers, spires and castellated walls; a high tower with fortress elements rises on the left side of the building. This architectural landmark, which looks like an old castle, stands on a rugged relief of Vozdykhalnytsia mountain slightly below Saint Andrew`s Church.
The Castle was built in 1902-1904. People say that the project of the building was stolen by Dmitry Orlov, a contractor. Being a greedy person, Dmitry simply copied the project of Ministry of Internal Affairs residential house in Saint Petersburg. The contractor could not use the stolen project officially, so he paid a bribe to the police. After that, he began the construction, and the government just pretended not noticing anything. Just after the completion of construction in 1904, the building flamed up by unknown reason. It was impossible to keep huge burning building a secret, so after the fire Dmitry Orlov was obliged to pay for the construction. In 1911, Dmitry was shot to death, so his wife had to sell the building in order to pay debts. After that, different merchants and other residents lived in the castle, but none of them stayed for a long time.
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Richard the Lionheart`s Castle was always considered as a mystic and frightening place. Residents of this building changed at a quick pace. They told that they heard horrifying howls from the castle walls. People were sure that some evil spirits lived in the building, so they escaped from there as soon as possible. The reputation of Richard`s Castle was refurbished by Stepan Golubev, a historian, who rented a flat in the building. He inspected walls and rooms, and discovered the real reason of the terrible sounds. Stepan found out that old egg shells were left in chimney, so when the wind was blowing through these shells, the “mystical” sound occurred. He also found glass bottle necks in some of the walls, which also produced whistling sound in windy days. It is said that it was a joke made by workers involved in the building construction. The contractor did not pay them promised sum of money, so they decided to take revenge and embedded scary surprises into the castle.
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The mysterious sounds left the building, but scary legends about the castle survived.
However, artists were not scared by mystic stories. Moreover, they got inspired by them. Apartments in Richard the Lionheart`s Castle were regularly rented by painters and sculptors, who used rooms as workshops. One of the artists, Fedor Balavensky (1864-1943), created true copies of Notre Dame chimeras and put them in Richard`s Castle windows, which contributed to the mysterious image of the building and gave cause for new stories. During the Second World War, the building was used as a safehouse. Since the castle was located on a mountain, residents could easily see through the window who was going to enter the building, so they had a chance to escape at the right time. People say that no one was arrested during man-hunts in Richard`s Castle.
In Soviet times, the building apartments were used as communal flats. These flats were regularly visited by Kyiv bohemia.
There are two legends about the origin of Richard the Lionheart`s Castle name. The first legend says that the name was given to the building by Viktor Nekrasov, a writer. In 1967, Viktor wrote an article, in which he told that he had played near the building in childhood with his friends, and they had pretended that they had been playing in front of posh castle from Walter Scott`s “Ivanhoe” novel. The second legend tells that long time ago Richard Yurevich, a merchant, was living in the building. Richard was an owner of a shop nearby, and was known for being a good storyteller. In the years of the Second World War, he hid the Jews in the castle basement, which was the reason why people started calling him Richard the Lionheart.
Nowadays, Richard the Lionheart`s Castle is still famous for its mystical aura. It is hard to believe, but the building is still empty. In 1983, all the residents were moved from the building in order to start its full repair. It was planned to turn the castle into a luxury hotel. The construction works started, but the process was closed down in a few years. Since then, Richard the Lionheart`s Castle stays abandoned, adorning one of the oldest city streets with its beautiful gothic facade.
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