Abandoned Estate, Bazhenov’s Church, and Abandoned Aircraft: All in One Place

By Irina.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

The abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport, Moscow.

What do you know about Russia? Moscow and St Petersburg, the Red Square and Peterhof, the Kremlin and the Winter Palace? That’s all? Boring. We wanted to find something unusual near Moscow, and since we love abandoned homes, we googled and found an abandoned Russian mansion and abandoned soviet aircraft in one place.

The former Bykovo airport is located just 32 kilometers from Moscow, Russia. It was the second airport built in the Soviet Union. Right in front of it, we found the slowly falling apart historical estate of Mikhail Izmailov in the village of Bykovo. It’s a pity, but it seems after 50 -100 years, only the unique church by the famous Russian architect Vasili Bazhenov will be preserved in the old estate where Russian Empress Catherine the Great liked to drink a cup of tea.

Bazhenov's Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

Bazhenov’s Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

The tsar’s village of Bykovo, located on the left shore of the Moscow River, was mentioned in the chronicles already in the 14th century. Russian tsars always owned the best lands, as in every kingdom, but if these lands lay near the capital, a royal citizen could obtain them only as a reward for great services. That was the case with the now-abandoned estate in Bykovo.

As we know, the most famous Russian queen, Catherine the Great, came to the throne in a way not particularly pleasing to God. In fact, she killed her husband. In those times, Mikhail Izmailov served the Russian Emperor, Peter III. When Peter III was killed by conspirators on June 6th, 1762, Mikhail Izmailov immediately went over to the side of Catherine. For this, she bestowed him with the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. Later, he received the title of the governor-general of Moscow and the extensive lands to the south of the second capital as well.

The Empress paid her favorites generously for their assistance in the palace coup. That was the beginning of the history of the unique Russian estate in Bykovo. Its owner, Mikhail Izmailov, spared no expense. He invited one of the most talented architects of that time, Vasily Ivanovich Bazhenov. Bazhenov made a courageous decision to build not a typical Russian mansion, but an elegant English building. Moreover, he started to build not just a house, but the park ensemble which consisted of a church, a park, several ponds, and something very unusual for the Russian climate: a winter botanical garden.

The abandoned home of Mikhail Izmailov. Architect Bazhenov. Bykovo, Russia.

The abandoned estate of Mikhail Izmailov. Architect Bazhenov. Bykovo, Russia.

The abandoned home of Mikhail Izmailov. Bykovo, Russia. Architect Vasily Bazhenov.

The new house was built on piles driven into the artificial hill, the earth for which was taken from three pits which peasants dug by hand. One attraction of the park was the alley of black roses bought in France. One of the many exotic plants delivered to the botanical garden was a 200-year-old cork tree.

Made of red brick, the count’s house still sits on the hill at this time. Beautiful cariatides support its amazing balcony with the owner’s coat of arms still visible above it.

Bazhenov's Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

The abandoned home of Mikhail Izmailov. Bykovo, Russia. Architect Vasily Bazhenov.

The abandoned house of Mikhail Izmailov. Bykovo, Russia. Architect Vasily Bazhenov.

It is impossible to get inside, but you would not have wanted to, if you had known that it was a tuberculosis hospital. We came here very early with some vague hope. A man came out of the main entrance and said the tuberculosis hospital is closed, but tuberculosis bacilli can live for 20 years, and there is nothing to see inside, since before it was a hospital, it was a juvenile detention center.

Today, the old house is almost abandoned and slowly falls apart. There are no traces of the rose alley and the botanical garden. In the park, overgrown by weeds, only two ponds are preserved, one of which has a rotunda built by Bazhenov for the leisure of the estate owners and guests.

The rotonde by architect Bazhenov. Bykovo, Russia.

The rotonde by architect Bazhenov. Bykovo, Russia.

The second feature preserved from the 18th-century construction, and the main attraction of the estate in Bykovo, is the two-floor Church of Our Lady of Vladimir. This church is one of the best creations of Vasily Bazhenov. It is unique and looks more like a fairytale castle than an Orthodox Russian church. The first thing you see is the curved staircase leading to the second floor. No church in Russia has anything like it. Because of the neighboring constructions, it was hard to take photographs of the church, at least, from the side of the staircase. Moreover, it is forbidden. (Why!?)

Bazhenov's Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

Bazhenov's Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

Bazhenov's Church of Our Lady of Vladimir in Bykovo, Russia.

With this, the architectural part of our visit to Bykovo was over. Once again, we were convinced that all the beautiful objects in Russia were built not by communists, but in the imperial times. New leaders did not manage to save not only those things that they got for free, but all that was built by the Soviet people during the communist era.

At 10:00 a.m., we embarked on the second part of our plan: to look at the abandoned Soviet aircraft. Clearly, all the working airports are well-guarded, but how about the abandoned ones? It was a little scary, but we tried.

One of the oldest airports of Moscow, Bykovo, was built in 1933 and closed in 2011 under very strange circumstances. Its terminal was precipitously demolished, and all the perimeter was enclosed by a concrete fence; however, this “obstacle” did not prevent the stealing of everything that could be stolen. Only the runway and several civilian aircraft survived. Today, the most part of the former airport is occupied by new cars for sale.

Before the trip, we identified the location of the group of abandoned aircraft, using Google Maps, and all we had to do was to find a hole in a concrete fence, and enter. One or two kilometers from the aircraft, we found a narrow gap and entered the territory of the former airport. There were no guards, no cameras (we hoped), and no dogs, so in half an hour, we already were near the abandoned aircraft.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

The runway of the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

The runway of the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

They sat there like beached whales, and I, the flyer’s daughter, was sorry for them as if they were living beings. Just five years ago, they flew, but now, with only 50% wear, they are totally unneeded.

For sure, we wanted to get inside. While I thought about what part of the wreckage could make a platform near the aircraft’s door, Victor found an old technical ladder in the high grass. Moreover, it had wheels. We took it and dragged it up to the aircraft. In five minutes, Victor opened the first door. Nobody raised the alarm.

The former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

In the abandoned aircraft. The former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

In the abandoned aircraft. The former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

All these planes could still fly. Yak-42D is not an outdated project. In its time, it was the new word in aircraft construction. Similar models: Ty-134, Sukhoi Superjet, Boeing-737, and airbus A319 still work in the sky.

Developing Yak-42, the designers tried to combine very contradictory characteristics: the ability to land on small and unsuitable airfields, fuel efficiency, and high speed. This aircraft started to transport passengers at the end of 1980. By 2003, 183 Yak-42s were built. There were only nine accidents in 30 years of service, and only one (06.28.1982) occurred due to engine failure; the other accidents took place due to pilot error or bad weather. On September 7th, 2011, the last flight for the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv was also the last flight for Yak-42D. Only two passengers survived. The career of Yak-42 was over.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Which demonstration can be more evident of the genius of mankind than an airplane taking off? Someone said it is possible infinitely to look at the sea, the starry sky, and the fire. I would add: at aircraft. I love aircraft, but I have only been inside of a plane; and never beside it, under it, or above it…. I never stood near its great wheels, under its wonderful wings, beside its powerful engine, and more importantly, I have never been in the cabin of the pilot. But I always wanted to. That day, I could touch the abandoned aircraft, feel them, and speak with them. It is like petting an enormous, but very old and good-natured animal: elephant, whale, or giraffe, for example. One unfortunate movement is enough to flatten you out, but they are calm, sad, and considerate of you. They are abandoned.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

Abandoned aircraft in the former Bykovo Airport. Moscow, Russia.

The Internet says one of those abandoned aircraft, which was locked, is offered for sale. Who will buy it? As my father said: Investments in the aviation business can quickly make you a millionaire, but only if you were a billionaire before.

More about Russia:
Unique Abandoned Russian Church in Yaropolec
Peter I and His Baroque Church, Only One in Russia
Kizhi: The Church Built Without a Single Nail 300 Years Ago!

26 Responses to “Abandoned Estate, Bazhenov’s Church, and Abandoned Aircraft: All in One Place”

  1. wordsfromanneli Says:

    Those old mansions must have been something in their day. Kind of sad to see pieces of the building hanging on by threads, ready to fall at any moment.

    Like

  2. Gennadiy Says:

    It’s very interesting place. I like this post.

    Like

  3. Andrew Petcher Says:

    Good post but I cannot agree that Moscow and Saint Petersburg are boring Victor!

    Like

  4. Sue Slaght Says:

    Victor I love exploring hidden gems. Thank you for taking us to such a spot.

    Like

  5. Katie@From Shores to Skylines Says:

    Awesome shots of the buildings and planes! It must have been a little eerie to be there. Looks like something out of a scary movie to me!

    Like

  6. mariafalvey.net (@mariafalvey) Says:

    Wow! Terrific site you found there Victor – I think I’d stay a while and camp out. so much to see, it would really take a few days.

    Like

  7. Andrea Says:

    Both sites are so interesting! Why would you abandon working planes on runways? To some rich Russian tycoon I’m sure these would have made lovely private jets. And if I was a rich Russian tycoon I would have bought that great mansion and the grounds for myself- what great style it has!

    Like

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      The same thoughts were in my head when I looked at all these wonders. But unfortunately, Andrea, we’re not millionaires.

      By the way, one of those abandoned planes was a property of very rich Russian company, Gazprom.

      Like

  8. Douglas Says:

    Hi Victor, My brother who is researching his upcoming trip to Spain got me onto your blog & my wife and I are finding lots of very interesting information about places we have on our “to go”list. I would also like to compliment your writing style-like listening to a friend tell us about his travels! And your photography is brilliant! Do you mind if I ask what camera and lenses you normally use on your travels?

    Like

    • Victor Tribunsky Says:

      Thank you very much, Douglas. Your compliment is especially value for me, because I learned to write for a long time, and to photograph too.

      Now, I use Sony RX100 for surface pictures and Canon D10 for underwater photos.

      Like

  9. Deano Says:

    Very interesting post Victor. Thanks

    Like

  10. GlobalGrasshopper (@globalgrasshopr) Says:

    Really beautiful photos and very interesting 🙂

    Like

  11. Tiaraa Says:

    Oh! That draws such a sad story. How much millions are lying there in that bit of a runway…and the Church still looks magnificent.

    Like

  12. BBQboy Says:

    I’ve always been a plane geek so I find this interesting – especially as we don’t see too many of the old Russian planes anywhere in the west.

    Frank (bbqboy)

    Liked by 1 person


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