Monday, August 19, 2013

Kharkov's Eiffel Tower

An enchanting sunset set to soothing French musique, a gloriously hot cup of café, La Tour Eiffel... it was like being magically transported to Paris.
Ever since Chelsea blogged about finding this place back in April, I'd been hoping to stumble across it. Turns out it wasn't that far away after all; it's merely hidden behind this massive monument to consumerism-

Французский бульвар, or French Boulevard. Also known as Шато Ледо, or ice château.
We've been to this shopping mall a number of times, both to ice skate and to watch several movies, including the only Russian-language film I've seen in the theaters here (it was a Russian film for kids, everything has been shown in Ukrainian). The mall had been rather empty, full of "coming soon!" and "under construction" signs, but now Сільпо (gorcery) and Comfy (electronics) are open and the place is bustling with families pushing shopping carts. The food court on the top floor continues to expand as well: pizza, terrible "Canadian" hamburgers, baked potatoes, and noodles were available at last count. There's currently an exhibition of Parisian photographs on the 3rd floor, mostly showing couples cuddling together and artistic reflections of the Eiffel Tower (the real one) in puddles. Also on the third floor, luxury shops selling fur coats, boots, and handbags. All four levels are connected by brand new escalators, some being motion-sensitive and others specifically designed for shopping carts. Fa-ncy!

Neither D nor I had ever noticed the Eiffel Tower replica before because we'd always approached the mall from the Barabashova direction, exiting the metro system at the market and then hopping on a tram or marshrutka to reach the mall. (Er, plus, we were usually frantic and running late, trying to catch a movie that was about to start :p I wouldn't have noticed the Great Pyramid of Giza had it plopped down in front of me!)
This time I followed Chelsea's directions, starting from the Plosha Povstannya metro stop and stopping every 2 minutes to peer at my last-minute scrawl of a map. Also along for the adventure was a reader of this blog who just happened to be in town for a visit. Luckily he was easy-going enough to put up with all the stopping and starting until a kind old lady sent us in right direction. Now that we've walked the route once, it really isn't that far. It's merely knowing where to turn (streets aren't always labeled) that's hard. This approach also took us alongside the St. Alexander Nevsky Church and its accompanying statue.

And then, there it was:

The real one is 324 metres tall. Kharkov's version is much, much smaller but it still makes for a great photo backdrop.
check it out- two generations of Ukrainian women are practicing their poses here

Inside is a twisted narrow staircase that leads up to a viewing platform and spectacular views... of the parking lot.

Oh well.

At least this design has been added to spice things up:

Under the tower is a sweet little open-air cafe, perfect for date night. They serve tea in big silver teapots and coffee in tiny white cups. And the desserts... mmmmm... do try for yourself!
view of the cafe from the viewing platform / staircase
"everything begins with love" plaque on the base of the tower (outside the cafe)

This cafe seems to be connected with restaurant Paris, so if you're on a date this might be a good "before/after" to an actual meal at Paris. But then again, I guess that depends on what kind of girl you're dating. My coffee companion had some mind-boggling stories about women ordering 1600 uah bottles of champagne and asking for 5000 uah boots while on dates. Wow. I guess those women live in a completely different reality than most of us! For everyone else, though, this place can make a great little getaway from the usual hustle and bustle of the city, especially if you manage a sunset visit.


  1. !!! This is total (awesome) insanity! Who needs the West when you've got Eastern Europe?

  2. I agree with Polly! I find it just as crazy that you and D never saw it because of that shopping mall--what?!

    This reminded me of an article--with haunting photos--that I read recently about a Chinese ghost now modeled after Paris:
    China Tried To Build A City To Replicate Paris ... And Here's What It Looks Like Now

    Read more:

    1. Yeah, it was hidden behind the bulk of the mall that whole time :p But I guess people who drive to the mall can't miss it.

      Wow, that city looks so European! It must be quite an incongruous sight when you think about the rest of the nation. But still, it looks like they tried hard to make it a really nice area, I wouldn't mind living there myself...

  3. (streets aren't always labeled) I would change to "streets are rarely labeled" :(
    at night "Eiffel tower" looks good with lighting! And one more thing, it grows from the second flour, so from the tram or car which is on the Akademika Pavlova Street it seems 6-7 m higher!
    But that cafe in it looks like Paris, but AFAIK it is not affiliated. But near the roller-skates square in Shato there is a real branch of Paris:)