Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The mysterious dome houses in southwest Florida

Built in 1980 at Cape Romano, these dome constructions was a DIY project of retired oil producer Bob Lee. His family spent much of the 80's nside the self-sustaining and solar-powered homes but started visiting less after 1992 when hurricane Andrew caused damage in the area but not the dome houses themselves.

In 2005 the abandoned houses were purchased by John Tosto just before hurricane Wilma caused serious damage to the domes and washed away some of the coastline. Two years later the local authorities asked Tosto to remove the houses but his inaction resulted in hefty fines. 

Today the dome houses remain abandoned and completely reclaimed by the sea and only accessible by boat for locals and tourists to explore.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The medieval Armenian ghost town of Ani

In the Turkish province of Kars, near the Turkish - Armenian border, there's the abandoned medieval Armenian city of Ani. Built in a naturally defensive site, Ani was the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia between 961 and 1045. At its height, the city had a population of 100,000–200,000 people, an important cultural and economic center, rival of Constantinople, Baghdad and Damascus.

Throughout the centuries, Ani was attacked by Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Mongolians, and Georgians until it became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1579. An earthquake in 1319 forced many to abandon the city, however the site wasn't entirely abandoned before the eighteenth century. During World War I, the Ottomans captured Kars province and destroyed and looted all the artifacts Armenians didn't have time to save. In 1921, Turkish government minister Riza Nur ordered for the monuments of Ani to "be wiped off the face of the earth", order which was partially carried out. Until recently, no one was allowed to visit Ani without permission but since 2011 the Turkish government is allowing visits with an entrance ticket. In the same year.

Neglect, earthquakes, cultural cleansing, vandalism took a heavy toll on Ani and its monuments. In May 2011, World Monuments Fund announced it was beginning conservation work on the cathedral and Church of the Holy Redeemer in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay

Today there's not much left of the Holland island, named after the early colonist Daniel Holland who inhabited it in the 1600s. Situated in the Chesapeake Bay, in Dorchester County, Maryland, the island had about 360 residents in 1910, a community of fishers and farmers, making it one of the largest inhabited islands in the Chesapeake Bay. Among the many building on the island there were 70 homes, many stores, a post office, a two-room school with two teachers, a church, and a community center.

Holland Island though is primarily made up of clay and silt and not rock. The wind and tide began to seriously erode the island in 1914 and in 1918 the last family left Holland Island after a tropical storm damaged the island's church. The island continued to subside year by year and today at high tide the island is underwater. In October 2010, the last remaining house on Holland Island, built in 1888, collapsed.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An abandoned NSA spying station in Berlin

Teufelsberg (German for Devil's Mountain) is an artificial hill in west Berlin built by Second World War rubble. On top of that hill is where the American National Security Agency (NSA) built one of its largest listening stations. 'The Hill', as it was known to American soldiers, began operation in 1961 while a permanent construction was built in 1963. It remained active until the fall of East Germany and the Berlin Wall, but after that the station was closed and the equipment removed. A group of investors bought the hill in the early 90s from the City of Berlin with the intention to build hotels and apartments but this never happened. Today, the buildings and radar domes still remain in place.

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Abandoned Russian cinemas

Between 2010 and 2011, Russian photographer Sergey Novikov travelled around Moscow and St Petersburg to take photos of old movie theaters, some of them abandoned and other reused. Novikov says "I prefer an engrossing film to disgusting popcorn. I don't mind shifting about in a squeaky chair, soaking in the atmosphere of an old cinema. Unfortunately, the films have already left them." All photos by Sergey Novikov.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

The abandoned 'Model Prison' of Cuba

Built by dictator Gerardo Machado in the Isla de la Juventud, 'Presidio Modelo', the Model Prison was where everyone who went to jail for more than 180 days in Cuba was sent. It opened in 1936 but it's construction began a decade earlier. The prison was a replica of Joliet prison in Illinois. Until today, 'Presidio Modelo' is known as the ideal design of a 'panopticon' prison. The cells are built at the edge of a circular building and a tower in the middle allows the watchmen to observe all cells from the same postion while the inmates can't know when they're being watched. 

Fidel Castro and his brother Raul were also improsoned there for perpetrating the attack at Moncada Barracks which started the Cuban Revolution. After Castro's triumph in 1959, Presidio Modelo was used to jail political dissidents, counter-revolutionaries, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and anyone else considered an enemy of the Socialist Cuban state. By 1961, due to the overcrowded conditions (6,000 to 8,000 political prisoners at one time), it was the site of various riots and hunger strikes. 

The prison was closed by the government in 1967. Today Presidio Modelo serves as a museum national monument and is visted by Cubans and foreign tourists. 

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Sathorn Unique: Bangkok's ghost skyscraper

The construction of the Sathorn Unique tower in the center of Bangkok begun in the early '90s when the Thai economy was booming. The 49-store skyscraper was meant to become a modern residence for affluent citizens of Bangkok. The Asian Financial Crisis though changed all that. The tower was abandoned in 1997, when the construction was 80% completed. Since then, it's often visited by urban explorers who often climb to the top for a magnificent view of Bangkok.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

An abandoned tropical swimming pool in the Netherlands

Pool Tropicana used to be a big attraction in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands until 2010 when the tropical indoor swimming pool was shut down with plans to be demolished. Before that, Dutch photographers Frank Hanswijk and Rutger Geerling took photos of the abandoned swimming pool.


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Monday, February 3, 2014

Joyland: An abandoned amusement park in Kansas

Joyland was once the largest theme park in central Kansas but today it remains abandoned and vandalised. It opened in 1949 and it remained in continuous operation for 55 years, until 2004 when it shut down due to economical troubles and safety concerns. The park had more than 24 amusement rides, a 1949 roller coaster, a miniature train (built between 1905 and 1910), and a Mammoth Military Band Organ (or Wurlitzer Style 160, built around 1905). In 2006, maintenance works took place aiming to reopen the park again but this never happened. Today, an organization is trying to raise funds in order to restore Joyland. 

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