Odessa’s ‘Harry Potter’s Castle’ Destroyed in Russian Missile Strike

The turrets of the landmark building were still burning at nightfall.

A couple look towards a burning building damaged as a result of a missile attack in Odessa on April 29, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Gimanov/AFP.

Five civilians were killed on Monday in a Russian missile strike that destroyed a picturesque building popularly known as “Harry Potter’s Castle” or “the House of Harry Potter” in the Black Sea Port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine, according to the State Emergency Service. News reports indicate that about 30 people were also injured in the strike, including a child; a dog was reportedly also a casualty. The building was destroyed using a ballistic missile with cluster munitions.

One of those injured in the attack was politician and former member of parliament Serhiy Kivalov. The Kyiv Independent described Kivalov as “a discredited ally of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych ousted following the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.” The private Odessa Law Academy, which is run by Kivalov, was also housed there.

Also referred to as “Kivalov’s palace,” the massive building stands for some as a symbol of corruption. “The obvious mismatch between Ukrainian officials’ salaries and their lifestyles and property holdings was one of the factors spurring the Maidan mass public protests in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014 that toppled the Yanukovych regime,” the Ukrainian information agency UNIAN observed in 2015.

The shorefront castle, in a Gothic style, also features manicured gardens, a private beach, and a waterfront tennis court. A drone video shot by the pro-Europe activist organization Automaidan shows the building towering over all the neighboring structures. The landmark earned its nickname for its architectural similarities to Hogwarts, the castle and home to a wizarding school depicted in the early-2000s Harry Potter films.

The spires of a Gothic style building on fire

The Palace of Students of the Odesa Law Academy is on fire after a Russian missile attack in Odesa, Ukraine, on April 29, 2024, which has killed five people. Photo: Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Photos showed its five turrets in flames after the strike. Emergency services reportedly classified the blaze as “severe.”

“All services, including the State Emergency Service, are currently working to eliminate the consequences of the missile strike—yet another war crime,” said a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Defense Forces, Dmytro Pletenchuk.

The strike comes shortly after the U.S. Congress passed a bill including $61 billion in military aid to Ukraine, after months when Republicans in Washington, D.C. opposed the measure.

Russian attacks have consistently targeted civilian and cultural sites. In April, the Kherson Art Museum identified some 100 paintings that the institution alleges were looted by Russian forces. Artworks that Ukraine identifies as stolen have even come to auction. Ukraine is making major efforts to preserve its cultural heritage in the face of the Russian onslaught, and the Kyiv Biennial even went forward in 2023.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.