4 Barely Believable Soviet Buildings

House of terror soviet russia flickr user David G Mills

Russia! I’ve only visited once, and it was a long time ago. I recall it being quite cold, and quite different to anywhere else I’d been. Still. I was only thirteen, so that probably isn’t saying much. Today’s post, kindly provided to us by Louise Vinciguerra, takes us on an unusual tour of some of the relics of the Soviet era, in the form of the buildings. Enjoy!

The bygone Soviet era left its mark on the landscape in the form of unique, often strange monuments and buildings. Curious Soviet structures are scattered throughout the former Soviet Union and have become enigmatic tourist attractions. Some are still in use and some are abandoned; the odd buildings are remarkable for the sheer weirdness of their design. In the 1970s, Soviet architecture favored a distinctive “monumental” style characterized by cement facades, geometric protrusions and minimal windows.

A Strange Soviet Legacy

The Soviet era buildings often appear to follow no specific style guidelines and seem erratic, haphazard — even unfinished. The architectural style made its mark on institutions including schools and hospitals all over the former Soviet Union in one of the country’s largest building booms.

The Soviet era was a time of great investment in infrastructure and modernization. Along with that came the creation of thousands of buildings for both government and private use. One legacy of the Soviet era is the expanse of housing developments across the landscape. The building style of this era has been described as experimental and simultaneously bizarre, bombastic and brilliant. As such, it is often impossible to distinguish a residential building from a church or a monument.

Many of the buildings of the former USSR are so imaginative they resemble something you might find in a sci-fi movie. The stories behind these buildings are as curious as their appearances.

Contrasting the elegant classical architecture seen across Russia and the surrounding area in buildings such as museums and churches, these five buildings offer a taste of the bizarre and barely believable.

The Friendship Hotel

This circle-shaped, five-floor high Ukrainian beach hotel was once considered by the CIA to be a suspicious military object. Its shape resembles a saucer UFO that landed on a beach. It was eventually determined the building posed no threat to U.S. security. Viewed from the beach, the hotel resembles a blooming dahlia flower. Visitors describe the interior as evoking the long curving corridors of a cruise ship featuring small, cabin-like rooms.

Friendship hotel Russia

Palace of the Marage

Built in 1984 as a church and a space for wedding receptions, this castle-like structure looks more like something out of a “Star Wars” movie. Its white cement fa├žade includes elongated vertical rectangular windows and a series of circular windows resembling those found on a ship.


Elements of the building are remotely reminiscent of an ancient mosque, a lighthouse and citadel. From a distance, it would be difficult to determine whether the Palace of the Marage was built thousands of years ago or was still in the process of being built given its eerily “unfinished” appearance. Marriages are no longer performed at the palace, as it is now a personal residence.

The State Traffic Department in Tbilisi, Georgia

Along the Tbilisi River, you might encounter a cement structure resembling five gigantic cargo containers balanced atop one another.

Georgian Ministry of Highway ConstructionUpon first glance, the building appears impossibly precarious, as if a strong gust of wind could simply disturb its balance; however, the building is actually the former State Traffic Department of Tbilisi and has been standing in its unconventional glory since 1975.

House of Soviets

Not so much resembling a house as a mammoth version of R2-D2, this former Soviet government administration building appears to have giant square eyes and arms. The conspicuous structure was built on the site of a 13th-century castle destroyed during World War II. Since it was built in the early 1980s, the House of Soviets has garnered a reputation as one of the worst examples of Soviet-era architecture due to its clumsy appearance. It survived petitions to demolish it in the early 1990s and stands as a testament to the strangeness of Soviet architecture.

Soviet House Russia flickr user archer10

If you’re looking for accommodation while you admire these strange Soviet sights, Venere has an extensive list of hotels of all ranges to choose from. It’s quite possible your hotel could be as whacky-looking as these buildings!

About the Author: Louise Vinciguerra is a fantastic joke teller, has a million and one hobbies, and enjoys matching her fonts with her moods. This Brooklyn native dirties her hands in content on weekdays and as a devout nature lover, dirties them in soil on the weekends. When she’s not on Facebook, Wordpress or Twitter, she’s traveling in search of fun food, dabbling in urban farming or planning nature trips from her resident city of Rome. When she’s not doing any of the above, she sleeps.

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