This article is an overview of the Soviet cultural legacy in Ufa, Russia. Art was an important means of spreading the ideological message of communism. The walls of factories, schools, and bus stations were a cheap and ubiquitous blank canvas through which propagandist ideas pervaded. Mosaics, sgraffito, and vintage bas-reliefs were important because they took political messages to people where they worked and lived.
Some of them survive, but most are crumbling in plain view. Their legacy is intertwined with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. There are many lovely mosaics in Ufa portraying historical figures and technological advances of the USSR. During the height of the Soviet Union’s construction spree in the 1970s and ‘80s, 5% of the budget for a new public building was given over to aesthetics, in other words, wall mosaics and murals as well as bas relief, which was another popular form of artistic expression during the time of the USSR. For prestigious structures, or important mosaics, such as those portraying Vladimir Lenin, the amount of money that would have been allocated would have undoubtedly been higher.
Soviet sgraffito and bas-reliefs in Ufa
1. Sgraffito on the Ufa State Petroleum Technological University
Take a look at how beautiful and organic classical Soviet architecture can be with proper care and a smart approach to renovation and restoration. The sgraffito theme corresponds to the profile of the university: it includes oil workers and industry infrastructure.
Address: Kosmonavtov street, 1/22, Ufa, Russia
2. Soviet bas-relief on a house near the Azimut hotel (formerly the Rossiya hotel)
A rare example of how Soviet decor is not hidden under ventilation facades. The art theme: metallurgists, oilmen, machine builders and agricultural workers. The workers on a bas-relief have oriental features as a reflection of the ethnic diversity of the republic’s population.
Address: October Avenue, 83, Ufa, Russia
3. Soviet bas-relief on the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering
One of the visiting cards of the Soviet architecture of Ufa is logically located on the building of the Faculty of Architecture – massive and brutal, the artwork is significant for a city.
Address: Mendeleev Street, 195, Ufa, Russia
4. Soviet Bas-relief on the facade of the Research Institute “Soliton”
A much smaller-scale bas-relief than on the building of the Institute of Architecture and Civil Engineering is on the facade of the Research Institute “Soliton”. The art plot is futuristic with references to physical sciences.
Address: Aiskaya st., 46, Ufa, Russia
5. Soviet diptych on the wall of the Bashkir Architectural College
The double metal sheet bas-relief is the only work in the city where such materials are used. The Soviet bas-relief reflects the theme of the educational institution, the heroes of the artwork are builders and architects.
Address: ave. October, 174, Ufa, Russia
Soviet mosaics in Ufa
Mosaics of the former USSR – the iconic works of art that are part of Soviet cultural heritage. Throughout Russia, monumental works of mosaic art can be found. During the Soviet era, these images were a kind of state-led alternative to modern street art: they made the grey and uniform architecture vivid and interesting.
6. Soviet Mosaic on the facade of the College of Water Transport
The double mosaic panel on the building of the “College of Water Transport” is the only identified object of Soviet design in that part of Ufa. The mosaic is large-scale, but, unfortunately, the overgrown trees hide most of the composition from passers-by.
Address: Akhmetova street, 275, Ufa, Russia
7. Soviet Mosaic on the wall of the recreation center “Motorostroitel”
Soviet Space scenes at the end of the building of the palace of the culture of the UMPO plant remind of Russian Cosmism. Cosmism was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov in the late nineteenth century; he believed that humans had an ethical obligation not only to care for the sick but to cure death using science and technology.
Address: Mashinostroiteley Street, 10, Ufa, Russia
8. Soviet mosaic panel on the building of NPF Geofizika
Amazing and futuristic mosaic panel: this artwork explains how soviet people saw their future in the distant Soviet years, and in something, our ancestors were even able to guess. Unfortunately, part of the panel disappeared behind overgrown trees.
Address: Komsomolskaya street, 2, Ufa, Russia
9. Mosaic diptych on the wall of the motor transport college
Two more little-known, but very beautiful Soviet mosaic panels are located very close to each other, on the building of the motor transport college.
Address: Street named after the City of Galle, 9, Ufa, Russia
10. Soviet Mosaic diptych on the wall of the Ufa Medical College
Not all Soviet mosaics are the work of experienced artists. The mosaic on the wall of the medical college is an example of this. The level of work in mosaics is as different as in any other decorative art, but both works require attention and deserve preservation.
Address: Richard Sorge street, 27, Ufa, Russia
11. Soviet Volumetric mosaic
Volumetric mosaic is a hardstone carving art technique in which a sculptural composition is assembled by combining volumetric fragments of colored ornamental stones (gems) carved from different breeds. One of the most complicated art and technical techniques for mosaic stone-cutting art.
Address: October Avenue, 182/1, Ufa, Russia
12. Soviet Mosaic panel on the building of the former tea factory
A glaring example of disdain for Soviet mosaic was a panel on the building of a tea factory that had been closed. The panel can be seen only in rare intervals when one banner is changed to another. The rest of the time, the panels are hidden behind the advertisement billboard.
Address: Mendeleev Street 177, Ufa, Russia
13. Soviet mosaic on the wall of the Bashkir State University
The Soviet mosaic panel on the wall of the Faculty of Engineering is the only thing that adds personality to the absolutely faceless building. However, even this is sometimes enough to turn an ordinary house into a small attraction.
Address: Mingazheva street, 100, Ufa, Russia
14. Soviet Mosaic panel on the wall of the Bashkir Academy of Sciences
The most famous Soviet mosaic panels in Ufa. If you are even a little interested in Soviet mosaics, then you have probably seen this panel in numerous collections.
Address: Kirov street, 15, Ufa, Russia
15. Soviet Mosaic diptych on the wall of the kindergarten
Two cozy Soviet panels with home subjects decorate the kindergarten near the city factory. Few people know about mosaics, because they are practically invisible from the side of the road.
Address: Kirov street, 37, Ufa, Russia
16. Soviet Mosaic panel on the wall of the house of culture
A beautiful Soviet mosaic dedicated to the Friendship of Peoples at the Palace of Culture of the city factory in Ufa. The factory is abandoned, but a recreation center with a mosaic still exists.
Address: Kirov street, 37, Ufa, Russia
17. Soviet Mosaic on the wall of UMPO factory
Fortunately, the UMPO factory, one of the flagships of the economy in Ufa is doing well, and on the factory management building locals can see two huge Soviet mosaic panels, the external condition of which is well monitored and therefore they look simply amazing.
Address: Ferina street, 2, Ufa, Russia
18. Mosaic of the City Palace of Culture
The largest Soviet mosaic panel in the city is located on the building of the City Palace of Culture. The storyline is dedicated to the October Revolution — its heroes and events. The theme of the mosaic panel on the ground floor are more abstract. The simplicity of the plot here is more than compensated by the complexity of the execution, the panel is large and voluminous. There are only a few mosaics in this style in the city. And if you go around the building, you can also see the bas-relief.
Address: ave. October, 137, Ufa, Russia
19. Soviet High-relief Mosaic on the building of the Ufa theatre
The original design of the Puppet theater in Ufa impresses with a combination of mosaics with fabulous animals and a metal high relief depicting a teremok (In Russian, the word teremok means “little hideaway”. Teremok is the main setting in this Russian folk tale). The ensemble is complemented by unusual metal lamps.
Address: October Avenue, 158, Ufa, Russia
20. Soviet mosaic in the lobby of Main Concert Hall of Bashkortostan
There is an unusual panel in the interiors of the Main Concert Hall of Ufa. There are many more interesting artworks inside various Ufa institutions that few people know about.
Address: St. Lenin, 50, Ufa, Russia
The stunning photos at the Teriberka, Russia were taken by Nordskif & Co. Nordskif & Co are professional photographers and urban explorers, which share their stories with followers. Also, NordSkif, Kave102Rus, and Nikita Alferov contributed to the article about Soviet art.
If you’d like to see more abandoned places in ex-USSR countries or discover Soviet history, then check out our articles on the History of Abandoned Ordzhonikidze Sanatorium in Sochi and the History and Photos of an Abandoned Crimean Atomic Energy Station