“So you want me to ride public transport an hour out of the city with you?”
“To an address that you’re not sure is correct, in the dangerous part of town?”
“To see something that may not even exist anymore?”
“On St. Valentine’s Day!?”
I was placing a fairly large bet on my proposed Valentine’s Day itinerary, but of all the things I wanted to see during my month in Kyiv, Ukraine, the psychedelic 13th floor apartment that may or may not exist, in Troeshina (the dodgy part of town), landed squarely at #2, right after a tour to Chernobyl. After all, my decided travel theme for the year was something along the line of “places people don’t really go”.
Floor 13, 26 Radunska St, Troeshina, Kyiv
Because Ukrainians write addresses backwards, if you’re trying to find the place it might also help to have it written like this: Троєщина, Радунская 26.
You could probably negotiate a taxi fare from downtown Kyiv to Troeshina for well under $10, but we opted for public transport for this romantic Valentine’s Day excursion. It just so happened that riding a “Marshrutka” was also on my list of “must-dos” for Kyiv. We rode the Metro to the second last stop (Chernihivska) on the red line and set out to find one.
How To Ride A Marshrutka
The word “Marshrutka” roughly translates to “complicated public transport that you probably won’t be able to figure out“, and refers to the small, usually yellow, taxi-buses you will see all over Ukraine.
Fortunately, in Kyiv at least, the marshrutka routes and stops are all available through Google Maps. We caught marshrutka 418 from outside Chernihivska station, to the corner right near Radunska St. Here’s what you need to know.
Ukrainians have a complicated system of passing fare money and change back and forth along the aisle between passengers and the driver. If you sit up the front, you’ve going to be handling a lot of cash. Have your fare (5 UAH for any journey) ready in small notes, hand them directly to the driver, and sit as close to the back as possible. No one will bother you there.
Keep an eye on Google Maps, and when you’re approaching your stop, yell “ostanovka!” (oz-stan-of-ka) at the driver, and he’ll let you out.
Deepdreaming In Kyiv
Soviet-era apartment buildings all look exactly the same, and they all have the exact same tiny hard-to-find street number stuck to the side of them (see at the bottom of the photo above? Me neither).
They also often have multiple unnumbered entrances. Fortunately, number 26 Radunska St only has one. It looks like this. Kinda dodgy.
The door is locked, so you’ll have to wait out the front for a resident to enter or exit. Around mid-day on Valentine’s Day, we waited less than 30 seconds for someone to exit, allowing us to scramble inside.
Find the elevator, and press number 13. Ominous.
The elevator doors open on the 13th floor of 26 Radunska St into what I can best describe as a real-life DeepDream rendering – animal heads merge themselves out of places they don’t belong, everything blends together in swirls of bright colour, and the whole place has a more-than-slightly disturbing feeling to it. Everywhere you look, your brain struggles to comprehend what your eyes are seeing. The place is definitely creepy.
Not a single surface in the hallway of floor 13 has been left untouched by the artist, supposedly one of the residents of floor 13. The photo above is of the roof.
The walls, the roof, the floor, are all completely covered with a wild collection of animal figures, dolls, mirrors, glass orbs containing photos, flowers, plants, textures, shapes and religious imagery.
I’m sure the place has been vandalised over the years, as curious visitors have tried to pry off a piece of floor 13 to take home as a souvenir, but you can never be sure. As you try to focus on the walls of floor 13, and attempt to comprehend what you are seeing, nothing seems out of place, because absolutely nothing seems in-place to begin with.
Not even the garbage chute has escaped the curse of floor 13, it’s now guarded by what looks like orthodox Jesus and a curious onlooker poking his head out from behind the chute.
This video isn’t ours. It’s a few years old, and gives you a pretty good idea of what it is like to visit floor 13 at 26 Radunska St.