This fascinating art-nouveaumansion was designed by Fyodor Shekhtel for the family of young industrialist Stepan Ryabushinsky in 1900-1903. The two-storey building, lined with ceramic tiles and richly decorated with mosaic friezes, has four different facades and is completely asymmetrical.
The original interiors of Ryabushinsky’s mansion were largely destroyed during the early Soviet period, when it contained several state institutions. However, the main features have survived to this day.
The central staircase is reminiscent of a wave delivering a medusa-shaped lamp up to the first floor. The lounge ceiling is decorated with stucco depictions of plants covered with large crawling snails, while salamanders and lilies wind around the capital of the column on the second floor. On the secret third floor, Shekhtel designed a house chapel for Ryabushinsky’s family, who were Old Believers.
After the revolution, the building housed the People’s Committee of Foreign Affairs and then for a time the Main Administration of the State Publishing House, which was visited by poets Sergey Yesenin and Vladimir Mayakovsky. In 1931, Maksim Gorky returned to the USSR from Italy and stayed at Ryabushinsky’s former estate.
Today the mansion is home to the Maxim Gorky House Museum and a memorial library.
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