Odessa was often lucky with aristocrats, who did not miss the opportunity to take care of their hometown. The names of these patrons are inscribed in the history of the city in capital letters. But even among them the name of the Falz-Fein family stands out.
German by nationality, Friederich von Falz-Fein devoted a lot of energy to the development of the country in which he lived. Despite the fact that his main creation was the opening of the large biosphere reserve Askania-Nova, in Odessa the Falz-Fein family was primarily remembered as the owner of one of the unique sights of the Southern city: a house with two Atlantes bearing the celestial sphere.
History of the House with two Atlantes
The Falz-Fein House stands in one of the most beautiful areas, not far from Primorsky Boulevard and Vorontsov Palace. It is still considered one of the four most beautiful buildings in the city and is included in almost all excursions in the center of Odessa.
The Falz-Fein family approached the construction of their own house with German pedantry. Not only were Weinstein family’s two-story mansion acquired, but also the adjacent plot, on which the famous four-story mansion was later built. Thus, the entire quarter was formed in the same style.
For the development of the project for the construction of the mansion, the owners turned to the famous architects Lev Vlodek and Semyon Landesman. The creations of these masters are quite famous; they are the pearls of the City’s architecture. And here they also managed to create a masterpiece. The construction of the entire complex took place in 1900-1901, when the mansion itself and the outbuilding were built, thus the entire ensemble of the quarter was completed. At the same time, the family itself continued to live in a two-story mansion, assigning the new building the role of a “tenement house”, apartments for rent.
The architecture of the House
The facade of the Art Nouveau building is richly decorated with superbly designed finishes. Balustrades, brackets, attics are complemented by masks and turrets. The most recognizable feature of the house is the sculpture of two Atlantes holding the globe on their shoulders. This is the creation of the sculptor Tobiya Fishel. The entire composition, in turn, “supports” the bay window, starting from the second floor. Quite a non-standard step: the Atlantes stand separately from the facade of the house, supporting only the globe. There is no such a portrayal of two Atlantes in the world.
The result is an elegant building, characterized by asymmetric forms and a rather complex composition. Its facades are tiled with terracotta tiles, high windows are framed with massive platbands, under which stylish bas-reliefs vault.
Next generation of owners
Unfortunately, after the events of 1917, the Falz-Fein family had to escape from Odessa and go to Europe. However, the four-story mansion has survived all the historical twists and turns, keeping the Atlantes statues intact. Initially, the house was built as a “profitable” house, later its fate remained practically unchanged. Today, these are residential apartments. First, in Soviet times, and then in independent Ukraine, several attics were added to the house, which somewhat spoil the style of the house, especially from the courtyard side.
Restoration of the building
The house with the Atlantes has long and deservedly become one of the symbols of Odessa. The Atlantes with a globe are even on the emblem of the Worldwide Club of Odessites. Despite the fact that at the turn of the century no less than a dozen of the most beautiful houses appeared in Odessa at once, the creation of the architect Vlodek, like another building according to his project, the arcade “Passage”, survived all the historical upheavals and continues to delight the eyes of Odessa citizens. Already in the 21st century, a large-scale restoration of the building was carried out, which sparkled with new colours. If the complex will return to its historical appearance, it will remain the pearl of the Southern city for a long time to come.