Russian Billionaire Gives His Old School a Versailles Makeover

Did you grow up wishing the school you went to every day looked more like a fairy-tale palace? No? Well this Russian billionaire sure did and when he became rich enough to afford it, he actually turned his old school into a flamboyant palace, complete with gilded walls, marble floors and even a water fountain.

Walking into the 106 Secondary School in Yekaterinburg after its recent renovation you couldn’t be blamed for thinking you had been magically transported to a French Baroque palace like Versailles. With golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, gilded decorations covering the walls and luxurious marble floors, it certainly looks nothing like a Soviet-era school dating back to the 1940s. That’s thanks to the generous donation of a former student named Andrei Simanovsky who grew up to become a successful businessman and decided to fulfill his childhood dream of turning his school into a palace.

Photo: Telegram-channel “Lamp”

Interestingly, the renovation of the school is only in its early stages, with just the ground floor corridor and toilets having been completed. The director’s office, and classrooms for elementary school students are currently being renovated, and Simanovsky told reporters that he wants to renovate the upper floors as well as the gymnasium and the outdoor school grounds, if local authorities give their approval.


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There hasn’t been any opposition from local officials so far, on the contrary. After several Yekaterinburg designers and bloggers criticized the renovation project for being too flamboyant for a children’s school or using too much kitschy gold, mayor Alexander Vysokinsky defended Simanovsky’s vision, saying that at least he’s doing something for the local community.


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“There will always be those who criticize,” the Russian mayor said. “It is necessary to talk with those who do, to study experience. It is useless to talk to those who do nothing. We try, we look, we study the reaction of parents.”


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Andrei Simanovsky dismissed his critics as well, saying that the students would not need to visit places like Versailles or the Louvre now, and that the luxurious interiors “will create a good mood straightaway… and people who criticize it are simply jealous”.


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The billionaire’s views were backed up by those of school officials who told 360TV that “the interest has increased for parents, children, and teachers. The excitement is growing. Everyone wants to go to our school”.


This isn’t the first fairy-tale learning institution in Russia. A few years back we featured The Castle of Childhood, a kindergarten the likes of which you’ve probably never seen before. They certainly do things differently in that part of the world…