Walking down memory lane

Vladivostok: Architectural heritage

Old Vladivostok is known for its great mix of architectural styles: Orthodox Christian chapels and Lutheran churches, places in German Gothic and Romanesque style, and intricate Russian Baroque and Asian architecture.

There are even buildings that boldly combine several styles in one! You can see this amazing variety during a 30-minute walk from the train station to Pushkin Theater.

Vladivostok Train Station

One of the oldest and most beautiful buildings of the city, the Vladivostok Train Station, is the first thing people will see when arriving here by train.

The Vladivostok Train Station was founded in 1891, simultaneously with the Trans-Siberian railroad. The Crown Prince Nikolai Alexandrovich (future Russian Emperor Nicholas II) personally participated in the ceremony.

In 1912 the original simplicity of the building design was changed to match the Russian baroque style of the Yaroslavsky Train Station in Moscow, symbolizing the unity of the great Russian Empire.

A Vladivostok joke: "One departs from the Yaroslavsky Train Station in Moscow, just to arrive at the Yaroslavsky Train Station in Vladivostok 7 days later".

The Brynner House

Walking вown Aleutskaya Street from the train station towards the city center, you will see the Brynner House, a light three-story building constructed in the early 20th century.

Yulius Brynner was born in Switzerland. At the end of 19th century he immigrated to Vladivostok via Japan and soon became one of the richest and most powerful entrepreneurs in Vladivostok. His grandson, Yuliy Brynner, was born in Vladivostok in 1920 and very soon after left Russia with his family. In America he made a brilliant movie career, known by his fans as Yul Brynner.

In 2012, a statue of Yul Brynner was erected in front of the home where he was born. His son, Rock Brynner, a special guest of the Pacific Meridian International Film Festival, participated in the ceremony.

Yul Brynner won the 1956 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the King of Siam in the movie The King and I.

The "Grey Horse"

Two tall buildings (#17 and #19) on your way to the center that stand out from the rest of the buildings on the street are jointly called the "Grey Horse". The architectural style is best described as Stalin’s Empire; back in the 1930s, these 7 to 8-story buildings were the tallest structures in Vladivostok.

According to an uban legend, the name "grey horse" came from sailors, who originally were referring to a cafe located right between these two buildings that they visited to celebrate the safe return from a sea voyage.

The Arsenyev Primorye Museum

On the west corner of Svetlanskaya and Aleutskaya Street’s intersection, there is the Arsenyev Primorye Museum. Built in 1904, it belonged to one of the partners of "Churin & Kasyanov", the largest trading company in the Far East.

After the Soviet Revolution of 1917, the building kept on changing hands: it was the Yokohama Special Bank, a barbershop, a kebab place, a regional financial department, and then the Institute of Fishery and Oceanography. Clearly, now it is at the top of its career.

The Arsenyev Primorye Museum also features an impressive modern display of historical materials, so it is worth spending an hour exploring their interactive educational collection.

Versailles Hotel

Walking past the Arsenyev Primorye Museum and going uphill towards the sea, at the very beginning of Svetlanskaya Street you will see the Art Nouveau building of Versailles Hotel, erected in 1909. By design, it is an upscale hotel with boutiques and a fancy restaurant. Admiral Kolchak, Somerset Maugham, Bertolt Brecht, and Ho Chi Minh all stayed at this hotel at one time or another.

In the early 19th century the façade of Versailles Hotel was decorated with sculptures of Greek gods and goddesses. The sculptures were so realistic that this part of Svetlanskaya Street was off limits to female students of Vladivostok gymnasiums.

The GUM Department Store

Built in 1882–1884 by the "Kunst and Albers" Trading Company, the GUM Department Store is one of the most magnificent landmarks of Vladivostok. All construction materials were brought by sea from Europe, including the cast iron gates, bricks, and tiles. The building was restored in the early 20th century, preserving the art nouveau style that we know today.

Underground tunnels connecting GUM to the nearby "Ussury" Movie Theater were discovered in 2009. They also found two wall-mounted massive safes. Unfortunately, nobody has been able to effectively open them yet, so the contents still remain a mystery.

The Pushkin Theater

Built in 1907–1908, the Pushkin Theater was the largest center for the arts and culture in Vladivostok before the Soviet Revolution of 1917. The building changed many hands and served many purposes during its long life; today, the Far Eastern Federal University has taken the Pushkin Theater "under its wing".

Pushkin Theater hosted local talents as well as famous touring artists of the time, including Isadora Duncan and her adopted daughter Irma, Leonid Utyosov and Vladimir Vysotsky.

These buildings hold the spirit of old Vladivostok with its charm and living history. Nevertheless, they are only the tip of the iceberg of Vladivostok’s architectural heritage.

Come to Vladivostok!

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