From Beijing to Libreville, all of these imposing buildings have stories to tell.
10. Beijing, China
The Russian Embassy in Beijing is one of the biggest diplomatic missions in the world in terms of territory. It occupies a six-hectare area in northeastern Beijing, where the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission in China was located from 1716 to 1956.
In addition to the main building, the compound has a church, an ancient library, residential buildings, a trade mission building, a school, a soccer field and a tennis court.
9. Libreville, Gabon
Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Gabonese Republic
The Russian Embassy in Libreville is located on one of the main roads of the capital of Gabon, a country in West Africa. The complex of buildings of the Russian Embassy was built in 1991. Russia owns the land and the buildings. The beautiful main building of the embassy has thin white pillars all around the perimeter of the building.
8. Warsaw, Poland
The building that hosts the Russian Embassy in Warsaw is no less than a palace. Built in 1955 according to the design of Soviet architects and using materials imported from the USSR, the palace was erected on an artificial hill. It has two wings in between which there is a broad staircase of several flights. The palace stands in the middle of a park where some 8,000 trees have been planted.
7. Havana, Cuba
The Russian Embassy in Havana is known for being housed in a highly unusual building that some people liken to a sword. Constructed in the span of almost 10 years, the building, designed by Soviet architect Aleksandr Rochegov, was ready in November 1987.
To mitigate the effect of the hot climate in Cuba, the architect utilized a number of features like small window openings, shade canopies, covered passages and deep loggias.
6. Rome, Italy
Dmitry Shuleiko (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Russian Embassy in Italy is located in a beautiful villa named 'Abamelek' after one of its last owners, Russian aristocrat Semyon Abamelek-Lazarev, who bought it in 1907. It is located near the Vatican and the compound is comparable to the city-state in size. It is reported that there is a tunnel lying under the Abamelek villa that connects it to the Vatican and to the Italian road network.
5. Washington D.C., U.S.A.
The Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. is located in the Mount Alto area on Wisconsin Avenue. The area where the embassy is currently located was leased to the Soviet government for 85 years in 1969. In 1972, a symmetrical agreement was signed to lease the same territory to the U.S. in Moscow for a new embassy on the same terms.
The striking building was designed by the famous Soviet architect Mikhail Posokhin, who designed the State Kremlin Palace and several other buildings in Moscow. It is considered one of the most striking and big embassies in the U.S. capital.
In the late 1980s, the FBI and the National Security Agency built a tunnel under the embassy to gather intelligence. However, FBI agent Robert Hanssen passed information about the construction of the tunnel to the KGB. As a result, the tunnel was never utilized for espionage.
4. Berlin, Germany
In the early 19th century, the Russian Empire acquired a two-story rococo building in Berlin to host the permanent diplomatic mission in Prussia. The building was rebuilt to better house offices and apartments of Russian diplomats. Separate quarters were also arranged for the Russian tsar, where the monarch could stay during his visits to Berlin.
After Hitler's troops invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Soviet diplomats were expelled and the building was sealed off. After the war, diplomatic relations with East Germany were established and the Soviet Union arranged for a new building to be built on the site. The grand opening of the new Soviet Embassy building in Berlin took place in 1952. The new building was designed in the socialist classicism style, too.
3. Helsinki, Finland
This impressive building that hosts the Russian Embassy in Helsinki was built in 1952. The whole project was designed by Soviet architect Anatoly Strizhevsky and financed by the Finnish government. The building is designed in Socialist Classicism, also known as the Stalinist Empire style, which corresponds to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Moscow.
The coat of arms of the USSR was preserved on the facade of the building even after the dissolution of the USSR as a tribute to history.
2. The Hague, The Netherlands
Valery Klepkin (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The villa named the 'Demangan' in Zorgvliet park in The Hague has hosted the Russian Embassy in the Netherlands since 1945, when the Soviet Union first rented it. The word 'Demangan' in the Sumatran language means "a house of a state employee". The unusual naming refers to the history of its previous owner, a Dutch Lieutenant-colonel named Stof, who participated in a military operation in Sumatra.
According to the initial design of the villa, the living quarters were arranged around a central hall. The upper floor had four bedrooms, a lounge and a living room. The attic had two guest rooms and a darkroom in addition to the servants' quarters.
The Soviets rented the villa in 1945, after the Netherlands was liberated from Nazi occupation. In 1964, the USSR purchased the villa for its diplomatic mission.
1. Bern, Switzerland
Hrusha (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Russia and Switzerland have nearly 200 years of diplomatic relations. Throughout the history of the presence of the Russian diplomatic mission in Switzerland, it has changed its location multiple times. The two countries severed diplomatic relations after the 1917 Russian Revolution and only restored them in 1946.
In 1948, the USSR rented a mansion to host the Soviet diplomatic mission in Bern, before it purchased the house in 1965. This same imposing mansion located at Brunnadernrain 37 is what Russia inherited from the USSR after it collapsed in 1991.
Click here to read about how the U.S. Embassy in Moscow also burned down in 1977.
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