House of Soviets, Kaliningrad

Of the finest architectural achievements of the Teutonic Order; Unfortunately, the Soviet Union destroyed the Königsberg Castle in the 1960s. They erected in its place the boring but bold, blueish-grey House of Soviets, representing the depressing nature of Soviet style columns.

The Predecessor

The church from the Königsberg Castle courtyard Source: Library of Congress

To appreciate the ugliness of the House of Soviets, you need to know about the building that stood before it. Theknights of the Teutonic Orderlaid the first stone of the Königsberg Castle on 1 September 1255, the birthdate of the city of Königsberg. The initial fortress was later converted to a palace housing the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order and Prussian rulers. The castle housed the city council, a massive church with a magnificent organ, a jail, and a museum. Enormous cellars could be found at the wine restaurant “Bloody Court”, build in the former courtroom above the bloody dungeons.

Allied forces damaged the castle in World War II, and Königsberg soon became Kaliningard, a region of the Soviet Union. Eventually, it was deemed too costly to repair, (or too German to repair) so the beautiful castle was destroyed.

Birth of Kaliningrad

After destroying the heart of Königsberg, Kaliningrad needed a new centrepiece. They decided to erect the House of Soviets to house the central administration Kaliningrad Oblast. Construction began in 1960, but the project fizzled out in the 80s. Windows were installed in the early 2000s with a lick of paint, but the interior remains empty and unused.

House of Soviets


The House of Soviets was typical of post war Soviet Union architecture, and the architectural style of brutalism. Brutalism is a harsh and almost cold-hearted style built with unfinished concrete and repetitive block like patterns. No unnecessary flamboyance of the past, brutalism was architecture “for the people”. So the city planners clearly thought “the people” were blind to ugly architecture.

The end result is a square concrete block holding two rectangular concrete towers connected by two shonky looking bridges. From a distance, it looks like an H. From another angle, it looks like a robot head from a low-budget sci-fi grindhouse film.

Brutalism was popular throughout the Soviet Union, but the House of Soviets takes the cake. No other brutalist building pollutes a city’s skyline like its big H shape. With it’s prominent location, unfinished and unused for over half a century, this is the epitome of ugly architecture.



2 thoughts on “House of Soviets, Kaliningrad

  1. FWIW brutalist architecture can be saved and even made beautiful. I did my degree at Maquarie University in Sydney in the 1970s. The entire campus was built in the brutalist style. It was awful. Twenty something years later my son went to the same university and the transformation was stunning. No longer ugly and depressing the campus has become a place of beauty – mostly through the additions of gardens and trees.

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