The Exhibition Center
The Exhibition Center Irtex (ИРТЕКС), unrealized project of the Center for Contemporary Art
In 2013, the oldest in the North Caucasus, one of the most beautiful parks in the North Caucasus – Central Park of Culture and Leisure named after K.L. Khetagurov – was 120 years old. Until its last renaming in 1939, the park changed its name several times: Erofeevsky, City Garden, Trek, Proletarsky. The founder of the park, Colonel Mikhail Rodionovich Erofeev, was the Chief of Staff of the 21st Infantry Division. “...Initially, M.R. Erofeev organized the Vladikavkaz cycling society, and then he had a happy thought – to build a Trek for cycling trips in the lower part of the abandoned city garden. Having gathering a group of like-minded officers and townspeople, Mikhail Rodionovich began to clear the area between the avenue and the Terek from debris. Ponds were dug and tiled, paths were laid, and benches were installed. Many residents of Vladikavkaz, who had never seen boats, enjoyed them like children...” (M. Tkachenko oldvladikavkaz website)
Moving beyond, M.R. Erofeev began to deliver soil, plant trees and shrubs, and set up flower beds. The recently abandoned area turned into a beautiful park, which has become a favorite resting place for the townspeople.
When in 1900 Erofeev was appointed Commander of the 84th Infantry Regiment and left Vladikavkaz, a huge mass of townspeople saw him off. And then the park was unofficially named Erofeevsky. There are two opinions about the last days of M.R. Erofeev. According to the first version: “In 1919, the infantry general Mikhail Rodionovich Erofeev was the head of the Mineralny Vody Region, then emigre wanderings awaited him. General M.R. Erofeev in France, in Nice, in 1941.” According to the other, the life of M.R. Erofeev was cut short in 1917 during a night shootout at a railway crossing of the silver-lead plant. At that time, skirmishes arose for any reason. Soldiers, revolutionaries, workers, officers were shooting. The general's friends complied with his request: they secretly buried him on the island of a large pond in his beloved Trek...” (M. Tkachenko oldvladikavkaz website)
One of the most beautiful buildings in the park was the central pavilion in the Moorish style by the pond. It hosted performances of a brass band, theatrical performances, literary readings, masquerade balls.
In Soviet times, part of the building was destroyed, and what was preserved lost its former splendor and grandeur. After the final demolition of the building, the building of the Nar restaurant with an open summer terrace on the roof was built on this site - a typical structure made of glass and concrete, which for many years became the most popular restaurant in the city.
Then Nar was rebuilt into the exhibition center Irtex - a wretched concrete structure, unattractive both inside and outside.
The Irtex site was chosen by the "Alanica" Symposium for two summers in a row.
The abandoned building housed the creative laboratories of artists from Russia and abroad, and the site next to it was selected by sculptors. As a result of the Symposium, two final exhibitions were held in the building. In 2011, the building was included into an ambitious project to transform from a marginal space into the building of the North Caucasus Branch of the National Center for Contemporary Art. The architectural project was proposed by the famous Russian architect Y. Avakumov
Although the repair work started, the project was not destined to be implemented due to objective reasons. In 2020, the Republic decided to demolish the long-term construction and leave this place free. A complete zero reset has occurred.
Photo and video materials by Eugeny Ivanov
Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Personal stories of Vladikavkaz residents
Requiem for «Nar»
One more building of worship disappeared from the map of Vladikavkaz.
Restaurant «Nar» ceased to exist.
I don’t know who in the 60s came up with the idea to build a restaurant on the bank of the pond in a quiet place in the Big Park, but this idea was not devoid of common sense.
And the open area with tables on the roof - this was really cool!
There is a lot of warmth and nostalgia in the numerous reminiscences of the residents of that old Soviet city of Ordzhonikidze about the Nar restaurant:
«… To the left of the entrance there was a cafe, a very ordinary hall with tables on duralumin legs and a buffet, to the right there was a smaller room, about 5-6 tables – this was the bar, and on the second floor there was the restaurant proper with a stage, live music, and palm trees in the corners ...»
«... The restaurant design is cool, it looks gorgeous against the pond background...»
«… Lord, how long ago that was! As a little girl, I dined there with my older brother and his girlfriend (my brother was 13 years older, and I just went to school), I was so proud that I arrived with him in the evening, even took the last bus, when it was already dark, in Elkhotovo (a village in Ossetia)! I spent a whole week telling my girlfriends about the swans, boats and merry-go-rounds! What a time it was!»
«And as a child I ate barbecue on the roof ...»
«In my youth, people went to Nar quite often ...»
«Besides, they made coffee on the sand in the cafe...»
«Yeah, this was the most beautiful place...»
«What beauty was destroyed ...»
«That was a gorgeous restaurant, and on the first floor there was a bar where they often went from work to drink coffee, an Armenian woman made it on the sand, the way to the roof was from the side lateral staircase, the entrance to the barbecue place in the evenings, disco, youth parties, contests ...»
«I will always remember this restaurant. 27.06.70. Wedding…»
«Yes, yes, there was a cafe on the first floor and a restaurant on the second...»
«Nar was the second home ...»
«Restaurant Nar. Very fond memories!»
«In the 70s three people could have rest there for 20 rubles...»
«While I was little, I dreamed to get to the upper platform, and when I grew up and could do it, it was gone...»
«It was really cool there! On the upper platform they ate barbecues, on the second floor they danced at the disco, and downstairs in the cafe there was delicious ice cream! And so many merry weddings and banquets were celebrated there! This is my youth, very fond memories of Nar...»
«We had our graduation party there (medical institute 1979) ...»
«On the roof of the Nar restaurant, a man, I don't remember his name, had a huge collection of vinyl records, and played them on request, the music was for every taste, for that time. ... Speaking of prices, for 25 rubles, five of us could have a great treat...»
«I am the last of the musicians who worked at Nar before 1979, i.e. before disco (incredibly popular and new trend of the time). These are Petya Sulkhanishvili – pianist, Vova Khetagurov (Khetag) – guitar player, Natasha (Arlekino) - singer, Kolya Vardzelov (Mars) – the bass, Fridon Khutsishvili - guitar player and me - Nodari Chibirov – the drums.»
In my opinion, they went too far with the name of the restaurant, the park was named after Kosta Khetagurov (the founder of Ossetian literature) and apparently they decided to name the restaurant the name of the village of Nar, where he was born. Then the city management knew it better, I think that now the restaurant would not be called that name.
In the 2000s, the leadership of the republic decided to make a complete reconstruction and open a branch of the State Center for Contemporary Art in the renovated building. A banner with a view of this Center hung next to the former Nar for a long time. But apparently something went wrong ...
The half-century life of the former glorious and beloved entertainment facility in the very center of the city on the Terek River has recently ended. It was completely dismantled.
Let's see what we will be offered instead.
Until then ... farewell!
Blogger, ethnographer, author and site administrator Old Vladikavkaz