The Soviet Lviv Today: Cosmodrome Pohulianka

“The Soviet Lviv Today” is a series of reports about the most atmospheric city locations. Sooner or later these hulky monuments of the epoch will vanish, so now we still have a chance to go there, where time stopped. The first stop -


Metal scaffolding of the cosmodrome got cold long time ago, Yura managed to return and to die mysteriously. But the euphoria of space race froze up in the futuristic illuminators. Like jelly. Like a happy face in the picture from Baikonur.

There are quite a lot of Trojan horses of the Soviet epoch in Lviv, but somehow of all others this huge dead robot is more alive than some living ones in its slums. He looks up to the sky helplessly, bleeding with rust. He knows nobody will fly for him.

Our glare runs through every atom,

Our every nerve is covered by determination

In such a way a settlement on Mars was reflected on the retinas of the old futurologists. Now children construct spaceship. In a rocket modeling club. Ink spots on the fingers.

“Haharin did not cry, and you do not cry.”

Space citadel, Centre for Culture and Creativity for Children and Youth in Halychyna, landed in Lviv in 1984. Nothing has changed for 30 years. In a big hall heavy bunches of weird grapes still ripe. In each one there are more than 300 lamps.

Yulia is lying on the floor to take a picture.

For a second I imagine myself a hero of the movie “Alien”. It gives me the creeps. Any moment these eggs will open.

Or no.

Somewhere above us Jack Torrance is throwing a tennis ball against the wall, and his son is knocking at room № 217. Now Kubrick will come forward and say “cut”, and in the old pictures in the lobby of the hotel “Overlook” our faces will develop.

The swish of old reel-to-reel tape. Vysotskyi’s voice. A woman is peeping out of the room.

“Let me open for you, I will show.”

Behind the door there is a group of bandura players with a dissonant name. Little bell.

“There is a very interesting architecture here”, - I say.

“Outside is significantly more beautiful then inside. I like a facade very much. And here… Everything could be livelier. As it was created for children”, - she responds.

There is a smell of old people in the air. The ghosts whisper behind the wooden sliding doors. Commissioner Katani, Woman with a log, chewing gums “Turbo”. The first discos.

We are going upstairs to the next floor. The temperature is rising.

The huge illuminators work as magnifying glass. On the sunny side it is stuffy as in a closed terrarium. Then, chillness of the huge hall. Lacquered parquet. The craters of lamps are absorbing the space slowly. The dancers’ hands are graciously cutting gelatinous air.

Having seen us, they feel shy and start laughing. Suddenly, they get serious and faintly withdraw under tender bass of selection “Erotic-98”.

“Rise up in fires, blue nights! We are pioneers, children of workers. Era of light years is coming.”

Then there was a Palace of Pioneers here. White tights, red ties with side caps were running up and down its stairs. Later on, Anzhelika Varum and Sviatoslav Tseholko were playing hide-and-seek here. In sweaters with deers. In the 90s Gongadze was teaching something. Perhaps, English. In radio groups they still teach to tune in Polish radio with a piece of a copper wire.

Every empire left its scar for the city. Together with changing flags above the City Hall, the architecture was changing. Lviv is as a gipsy, his clothes combines a lot of contradictory elements, which he stole from all places he visited. But relating to Lviv, these clothes were brought by visitors.

Austrian de luxe residences, Polish shops, the Soviet monumentalism. And each scar contains a memory: where and when it was received. Here and there the modern silicone skin substitutes the old one. With bones of gypsum plasterboard. On the skin that hasn’t peeled off yet, the atmospheric tattoos of the epoch come through.

However, you will not call Pohulianka either a scar or a tattoo. It’s more a birth-mark of Lviv.

Like Horbachov’s birth-mark.

Photo by Juliya Low

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