A sinister Moscow landmark will soon be no more – demolition work has begun on Hovrino Hospital, an enormous never-completed medical institution that became a site for urban exploration, Satan worship, and murder.
The architects scale of ambition was matched only by the scope of their failure. In 1980, work began on the outskirts of the Russian capital on an eleven-floor brutalist state-of-the-art hospital. Constructed in the shape of some jagged pagan star – later likened to a biohazard sign – it towered over the surrounding woodland.
But not for long. An underground river reportedly caused the foundation to slowly sink – basements were flooded, concrete cracked. Construction was suspended, though it was not unusual for late-Soviet projects to be mothballed for years, leaving hundreds of apocalyptic landmarks all over the vast landmass. The last builder abandoned the site in 1985 – with the shell complete, yet entirely hollow on the inside.
Yet no place in a city is entirely dead, or without function. Children used the stairs for climbing, alcoholics drank on the floors of what were to be operating theaters, the homeless slept in would-be hospital wards.
It was after the collapse of the USSR in 1991, when watchmen stopped guarding the perimeter, that Hovrino began to acquire a second life. Once banned underground movements now flourished. It was widely reported that cultists began to gather for ceremonies, drawing pentagrams on the concrete, and sacrificing stray animals. More innocently, it became a favorite for unlicensed paintball games.
An unsavory reputation developed. Gangs would lure victims to the hospital, then rob them. Missing persons reports were frequently filed from relatives of those last heard planning to visit Hovrino, though this does not necessarily require a supernatural explanation. In the 1990s, police found an average of one dead body a month inside the spacious premises.
In 2005, a teen boy committed suicide – according to legend – by leaping from the empty eighth floor elevator shaft. An improvised memorial has been constructed and maintained for him inside the hospital, with candles, rotting flowers, and graffiti proclaiming “We will never forget you.”
As security was restored in the past decade, the hospital became a target for beginner urban explorers, who faced paying a hefty fine for trespassing if they didnt manage to evade the guards, though the urban legend risked turning the ruin into a cliche. At the same time, the carcass grew more genuinely treacherous – crumbling steps, hidden holes in the floor, rebar spikes easy to miss in the dark.
While it was tolerated in its new guise, the city government made multiple futile attempts to sell the land to developers. Finally, in 2017, it declared that it would spend hundreds of millions of dollars clearing up the land itself. By the time demolition started, the building had sunk 12 meters into the ground in places.
By February next year, nothing at all will remain of it. Instead, it will become home to residential tower blocs.