Until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the USSR authorities designated Saratov a “closed city” (i.e. strictly off limits) to all foreigners due to its military importance as the site of a vital facility that manufactured military aircrafts. In Saratov, abandoned houses with ornately decorated and painted facades are interweaved with the contemporary framework of the city. I found these facades to be representative of the masked appearance that the USSR once presented to justify the establishment of these closed cities.