Monday, July 21, 2014

An abandoned 1920s cabaret theatre in Berlin

This abandoned cabaret theatre was discovered in the central Mitte area of Berlin, Germany. It opened in 1905 as a musical hall and restaurant, named “Fritz Schmidt’s Restaurant and Festival Halls” and soon became an established venue for Berlin’s ballroom society. In 1919 it changed operators and became “Kolibri Festival Halls and Cabarets”. It was the era of the German "Kabarett" and that was when this theatre hall had some of its best days. It all ended at some point after 1934 when the Nazi regime started its crackdown on the cabaret scene. 

The cabaret theatre was found inside an abandoned three-storey building surrounded by taller apartment buildings. After tons of rubble were removed from its interior, a 300 square metre (3230 sq feet) ballroom with wall paintings and metre-high stuccoed ceilings was revealed. The kitchen on the ground floor had a special lift to send up food and drinks to the hall on the second floor. LAVA architecture firm undertook the task of restoration of the building in order to be used as a space for performances and exhibitions, studios, meetings and conferences, and luxury apartments for short term and executive rental.

All photos by Moritz Gruppe GmbH/Ronny Goyn/

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Fort Jefferson: An abandoned island fortress off Florida

In the lower Florida Keys, within the Dry Tortugas National Park there's an unfinished and abandoned island fortress, which is the largest masonry structure in the Americas. Fort Jefferson was built by the U.S. Army in 1846 to assist in the fight against piracy in the Caribbean Sea

The design called for a four-tiered six-sided 1000 heavy-gun fort, with two sides measuring 415 feet (126 meters), and four sides measuring 564 feet (172 meters). On the parade ground inside the fort's massive brick walls there were living quarters for soldiers and officers, gunpowder magazines, storehouses, and other buildings required to maintain the fort. An important part of the construction was carried out by slaves. 

Fort Jefferson's peak military population was 1,729. To support such a large population in an area lacking fresh water (hence the name 'Dry Tortugas'), an innovative system of cisterns was built into the walls of the fort. However, the system was never used in practice, cracks were created in the cisterns due to the enormous weight of the outer walls, allowing seawater to contaminate the fresh water supply. 

During the Civil War, with construction still under way, Fort Jefferson was used as a prison for deserters. In 1867, a Yellow Fever epidemic killed many prisoners. By 1888 the Army turned the fort over to the Marine Hospital Service to be operated as a quarantine station as the cost of maintaining it due to the effects of frequent hurricanes and tropical climate could no longer be justified. 

On January 4, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited the area by ship, designated the area as a National Monument, while in 1992 the Dry Tortugas, including Fort Jefferson, was established as a National Park. Today, tourists can reach the island by ferry or by chartered seaplanes and private yachts and tour the abandoned Fort Jefferson. 

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Yekaterinburg TV Tower: The tallest abandoned structure in the world

The Yekaterinburg TV Tower is one of the landmarks of the major Russian city and also has the title of the tallest abandoned building in the world. Its construction started in 1983 but it was put on hold during the collapse of USSR. The tower today stands at 220 meters (720 feet) while, according to plans, it was intended to be 400 meters (1,300 feet) tall, after an antenna was added. The elevators were never installed and anyone who wants to go up its 26 floors (not including the tower's base) has to take the stairs.

Due do some construction errors, the tower today is slightly leaning. During the 1990s, Yekaterinburg TV Tower was illegally  used for BASE jumping but after some fatal accidents it was eventually sealed in 2000. Throughout the years there have been plans to renovate and use the tower but until today nothing has been decided.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

An abandoned Moscow water park

The construction of the Akvadroma water park was approved in 1997, in preparation for the 1998 World Youth Games in Moscow

The ​​43,500 square-meter (468,000 sq. feet) building was 9 floors tall (with 3 more floors below ground) and included 5 swimming pools, water slides, track and field, guest rooms for athletes, offices, cafes, and a physiotherapy and medical center.

Akvandroma wasn't ready for the Games but its consruction went on until February 2002 when the site was abandoned. In July 2007, the building was purchased with plans to be converted into a shopping mall. All pics via

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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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