The Castle of Richard the Lionheart
House №15, known among the capital's locals and guests as ‘the Castle of Richard the Lionheart,’ is one of the most attractive and mysterious buildings in Kyiv. Despite its romanticized name, the house has nothing to do with English King Richard the First. The writer Viktor Nekrasov gave such nickname to the unusual building in Neo-Gothic style for its resemblance to medieval knightly castles.
Its peculiarly decorated facades, high tower adjoined on the left side, spires jutting in the sky and castellated walls are in fact reminiscent of the fortifications dated to the King Richard I times. It has - the same as a true knightly castle - cortyard with tethering post, indoor castle garden, tournament fields and spiral staircases. By the way, there is access to the mountain offering fantastic views of the Kyiv Podol and picturesque left bank of the Dnieper River behind the house.
The Castle of Richard the Lionheart was built in the early 20th century to wealthy capital industrialist Dmitry Orlov's order, who intended it to be a lodging house. At that time Kyiv experienced lodging boom, and therefore, Orlov had to contrive ways of attracting future tenants. He saw a grandiose design of a dwelling house, stylized as a medieval castle, in the St. Petersburg building magazine and decided to ‘borrow’ it, adapting to the complicated Kyiv landscape.
However, weird things started to happen to the house from construction's beginning. In 1904, conflagration broke out at the building site. The locals considered that it was caused by the evil spirits. Ill fame consolidated its grip on the house for good, after its owner was shot down on the Far East, where he carried out another construction. Orlov's widow had to sell the ill-fated house, because of piled up debts. Since then the Castle of Richard the Lionheart frequently changed owners, due to mystical events that happened inside the building.
Most lodging house's tenants fled in terror because of wild howls and harrowing moans that were often heard from stove and ventilation tubing. Others claimed to have met real ghosts in the halls. The castle filled the tenants and mere Kyiv residents with terror and they threatened to pull the ‘bad house’ down. Meanwhile the owners of the mysterious building suffered huge losses.
The Castle of Richard the Lionheart would probably preserve the reputation of evil spirits' den, if one of its tenants didn't find an egg shell in the flue. Apparently it was it that caused the threatening sounds: in windy weather the shell let the air through its tiny holes and acted as a resonator. In addition, later it was found out that constructors, who decided either to play a prank on the house owner, or to get back at him for underpayment, built broken bottles and scraps of various pipes into the house walls. When hit by the wind, they made frightening sounds.
When the problem was solved, the Castle of Richard the Lionheart became the favourite place for capital painters, poets, musicians and other Bohemians, who turned its rooms into artistic studios. However, Soviet authorities nationalized the house. Now the castle is under reconstruction, and the international company that owns it is planning to open a hotel here.