House on the Embankment

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House on Embankment
Дом на Набережной
DNN Iofan.jpg
General information
Architectural styleConstructivism
Address2, Serafimovicha Street
Town or cityMoscow
Construction started1928
ClientSoviet government
Height~50 m
Technical details
Floor count12
Design and construction
ArchitectBoris Iofan

The House on the Embankment (Russian: Дом на набережной) is a block-wide apartment building on the banks of the Moskva on Balchug in downtown Moscow, Russia.[1] It faces Bersenevskaya Embankment on one side and Serafimovicha Street on the other side. Until 1952, it was the highest residential building in Moscow. It is considered an example of constructivist architecture. It is most known as the place of residence of the Soviet elite, many of whom were arrested and executed during Stalin's Great Purge.[2][3]


This residential complex of 505 apartments and 25 entrances is located on the Island Zamoskvorechye, a territory connected with the rest of the city by two bridges: Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge and Maly Kamenny Bridge. The ensemble covers an area of 3.3 hectares and comprises 8 buildings with a varying height of 9 to 11 floors. It overlooks Serafimovich Street and Bersenevskaya Embankment.[4][5]

The official address of the building is 2 Serafimovich street. Organizations located on the river side sometimes use the address 20 Bersenevskaya Embankment.[4]


The relocation of the capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow caused an increased need to house civil servants in Moscow. In 1927, a commission decided that a building would be constructed in the Bersenevka neighborhood, opposite the Kremlin, which had been occupied by the Wine and Salt Court, an old distillery and excise warehouse. During the Tsarist era, the area had been used mainly as a mushroom market.

The new apartment block was completed in 1931 as the Government Building, a residence for the Soviet elite. Previously, they had lived mostly in the Kremlin itself or in various luxury hotels around Moscow, such as the National, the Metropol and the Loskutnaya.

It was designed by Boris Iofan, who lived in the building from 1931 to 1976. (He also designed the Palace of the Soviets, which was never built.)

The building is considered to be constructivist in style. The apartments were luxurious for their time: telephones, central heating and high ceilings were standard. At the time, most Muskovites had to make do with communal apartments.

The building also featured a sports hall, tennis court, kindergarten, library, laundrette and a kitchen from which meals could be ordered for collection. Many residents and their families were detained during the Great Purge in the late 1930s, such that the building was dryly referred to as "The House of Preliminary Detention." (That is play on the Russian initialism Допр, from the building's original name: Дом прави́тельства.)

During Stalin's purges in the 1930s, it was known as having the highest per-capita arrests and executions of any residential building in Moscow.[3] Fully a third of its residents disappeared during the purge.[6] Professor Yuri Slezkine published in 2017 The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution (Princeton University Press) which records the fates of about eighty tenants and their families.[7][8] He notes that some of the apartments in the Government Building held up to five successive sets of occupants between 1937 and 1940, as senior officials were arrested for execution or imprisonment.[9]

Present day[edit]

The building has 505 apartments (some used as offices), a theater, a movie theater, restaurants, and retail stores and an Azbuka Vkusa supermarket, not dissimilar to the situation when it was originally built. Although other areas of the city have much more luxurious apartments, the apartments in the House on the Embankment are still sought after and very expensive because of their location and the prestige associated with the building. Apart from the descendants of the former Soviet elite, the building also home to pop stars, film producers, cultural figures and expats. A small museum was opened in 1989 on the first floor of the building, containing exhibits about its history, as well as providing a more general social history of the 1930s and 1940s.[10][11] There are 25 memorial plaques on the facade of the building. From 2001 to 2011 an 8-metre high Mercedes Benz logo was placed on the roof (as advertising).

In popular culture[edit]

  • The name "House on the Embankment" became commonly used following the publication of a novella of that name by a former resident: Yuri Trifonov. It was written in 1975 and published in 1976.
  • The first and last scenes in the film Burnt by the Sun are set in the building.
  • The building has been entered in the city's cultural heritage register.

Notable past residents[edit]

Memorial plates[edit]


  • Slezkine, Yuri (2017). The House of Government. Princeton. ISBN 9780691176949.


  1. ^ ROMENDIK, DMITRIY (April 16, 2014). "Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment". Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  2. ^ Sudjic, Deyan (2017-03-15). "How Stalin rebuilt Moscow in his own image". CNN Style. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  3. ^ a b Yaffa, Joshua (2017-10-09). "Russia's House of Shadows". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  4. ^ a b RBTH; Romendik, Dmitriy (2014-04-16). "Apparatchik Apartments: Behind the facades of the House on the Embankment". Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  5. ^ Скрыпник, Лариса (2015-08-21). "С видом на Кремль. История Дома на Берсеневской набережной". Retrieved 2019-07-28.
  6. ^ "'House on Embankment' a Study in Russian History". NPR. June 12, 2005. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  7. ^ Reviewed by Rachel Polonsky as "a monumental edifice of scholarship and historical insight."
  8. ^ Hatherley, Owen (15 December 2017). "The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine review – the Russian Revolution told through one building". Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  9. ^ Pages 10-11 Literary Review, August 2017
  10. ^ "Museum "The House on the Embankment"". Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Moscow's House on the Embankment". January 11, 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°44′41″N 37°36′43″E / 55.74472°N 37.61194°E / 55.74472; 37.61194