Tuesday, December 27, 2016

16 deserted places we discovered in 2016

The final week of 2016 is here, which means it's time to remember 16 deserted places we discovered during the last year. As always, some of these posts are the ones most viewed by you, while other are my personal favorites. 

2016 was a great year for this blog as we managed to post more photos of deserted places than ever before. A record of 75 posts, which is about 1.5 posts per week. 

Many of those posts (when possible) had a link to Google Maps so you can do your own (online or offline) exploring. Similar links were added to posts dating back to 2012.

Moreover, a promise we gave years ago became reality at last. An index of all deserted places we've explored, arranged by location and type.  

Once more, I'd like to thank you for your visits, comments, suggestions, and for sharing our posts with your friends. 

2017 is going to be the 5th year of this blog, and we're determined to make it a good one.

If you don't want to miss any post, you can always follow us on twitter or like us on facebook.

Wishing you all a happier and healthier 2017!

1. A semi-submerged church in northern Italy

In 1950, the Italian town of Graun im Vinschgau (Curon Venosta) had to be submerged to create the artificial Reschensee lake (Lago di Resia). The town's tallest structure, the steeple of a 14th-century church is still visible all year round and can be even visited on foot when the lake freezes during the winter months. (More photos)

2.  Tour the abandoned Star Wars film sets in Tunisia

George Lucas went to the Tunisian desert to shoot many scenes for his Star Wars movie franchise. Most of the sets are in relatively good state having survived the threat of ISIS, and are visited every year by hundreds of Star Wars movie fans. (More photos)

3.  Michigan Central Station: The most iconic abandoned building of Detroit

Michigan Central Station opened its doors in 1914, being the tallest railway station in the world. Initially, more than 200 trains would depart each day but after World War II railway's decline began. Amtrak made many efforts to revive the station in the 1970's and 80's until it shut down in 1988. (More photos)

4.  The legendary TWA Flight Center terminal of JFK airport

Designed by the famous Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, the TWA Flight Center Terminal of JFK airport in New York City, opened in 1962 for the exclusive use of Trans Air Airlines. Although it was considered revolutionary for its time, the arrival of jumbo jets and the increase of passenger volume, made it inadequate. The terminal shut down in 2001 and has been abandoned since. (More photos)

5.  Inside an abandoned Belgian power plant

Power Plant IM opened in 1921 in the Belgian city of Charleroi. It was one of the largest coal burning power plants in Belgium but also one of the largest polluters, responsible for 10% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions. It has been abandoned since 2007. (More photos)

Monday, December 19, 2016

An abandoned Christmas theme park in Southern California

Santa's Village was a Christmas-themed amusement park that opened its doors in 1955, just 6 weeks before the first Disneyland. Built in the Skyforest section of Lake Arrowhead, it gave Southern California residents a chance to get a glimpse of a 'white Christmas' that would normally be very rare to experience. 

Santa's Village boasted kiddie rides, including a bobsled, monorail, and Ferris wheel; a petting zoo; live reindeer; and shops that included a bakery, candy kitchen, and toy shop. Quickly, the 220-acre (0.89 km²) theme park became one of Southern California's biggest tourist attractions and its owner, developer Glenn Holland, turned it into a franchise, building two similar parks in Scotts Valley, California and East Dundee, Illinois (the East Dundee park reopened in 2011 under new ownership as Santa's Village AZoosment Park).

As years went by, competition became tougher and the park saw reduced attendance and revenue shortfalls. In the late 1970's the park went bankrupt. The Henck Family which owned the land took it over, expanded it and run it until it closed down on March 1, 1998. Three years later the park was sold for $5.6 million, and served as a staging area for local logging operations. The rides remained abandoned forming a ghost town along the Rim of the World Highway. The property was sold again in June 2014 to an owner who plans to operate it as a year-round tourist destination called SkyPark at Santa's Village. The new park opened on December 2, 2016. 

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

The abandoned Vidin Synagogue in Bulgaria

The Vidin Synagogue was built in 1894 in Vidin, a city in northwestern Bulgaria, near the borders with Romania. It was once the second largest synagogue in the country and one of the largest in the Balkans. The large neo-gothic style building was constructed within a year using donations that came from all over Bulgaria and it was a symbol of wealth and pride for the local Jewish community that had flourished for more than five centuries after its arrival from Spain in the fifteenth century.

During and after World War II the Jewish population fled to Israel and Vidin Synagogue fell into disuse. In the 1970's, the Ministry of Culture of the communist country developed a plan to restore the building and work began began in 1983. In 1989, Bulgaria's communist regime collapsed, and the restoration was abandoned, just when workers had removed the roof. Exposed to the elements since, the synagogue today is in ruins. 

In 2009, ownership of the site was transferred from “Shalom” Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria to the state, in hopes that the synagogue will be restored and used as a cultural center. In 2012, the Ministry of Culture announced plans to adapt the building into a museum complex that will include a library, meeting hall, and spaces for prayer and for the commemoration of the Holocaust. However, no work has taken place until today.

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Monday, December 12, 2016

Prora: Hitler's abandoned beach resort

The beach resort of Prora, on the island of Rügen, Germany, is known for 8 abandoned large structures, part of a Nazi-planned tourism project. Hitler envisioned an ambitious plan for a gigantic beach resort, the "most mighty and large one to ever have existed", under the ideal that every worker deserved a holiday in the sun. The resort would hold 20,000 beds, and in the middle a huge building was to be erected. The resort had to be convertible into a military hospital in the event of war. 

Building took place between 1936 and 1939 as a Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude or KdF) project. The design competition was overseen by Adolf Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer and won by Clemens Klotz. According to the designs, all rooms were planned to overlook the sea, while corridors and sanitation are located on the land side. Each room of 5 by 2.5 metres (16 by 8 feet) was to have two beds, an armoire (wardrobe) and a sink. There were communal toilets, showers and ballrooms on each floor. The buildings extend over a length of 4.5 kilometres (2.7 miles) and are roughly 150 metres (500 feet) from the beach.

All major construction companies of the Reich and a total of 9,000 workers were involved in the project. However, with the onset of World War II, construction stopped. The eight housing blocks, the theatre and cinema stayed as empty shells, and the swimming pools and festival hall never materialized. During the Allied bombing campaign, many people from Hamburg took refuge in one of the housing blocks, and later refugees from the east of Germany were housed there. By the end of the war, these buildings housed female auxiliary personnel for the Luftwaffe.

After the war, the Soviet army took control of the area and established a military base at Prora, demolishing two buildings by the end of the 1940s. In the late 1950s the East German military rebuilt several of the buildings to house several National People's Army units. After German reunification, parts of the buildings were used from 1990 to 1992 by the Military Technical School of the Bundeswehr and from 1992 to 1994 to house asylum seekers from the Balkans. Beginning from the 90s large parts of the buildings were looted and vandalized, with the a exception of Block 3, Prora Center, which from 1995 to 2005 housed a variety of museums, special exhibitions, and a gallery.

Starting in 2004, the site has began being sold off individually for various uses. Some of them are to be converted into hotels, other into shops and apartments. A house for the elderly and a shopping center is also going to be built. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A rare abandoned Russian fighter jet

This rare abandoned Tu-128UT fighter jet was found in an aircraft repair plant in the Russian town of Rzhev by aviation photographer Marina Lystseva. Tupolev Tu-128UT (also known as Tu-28UT) is a training aircraft, based on the Tu-128 (also known as the Tu-28) interceptor. Only 10 of them have been built and this seems to be the only one remaining. 

Tupolev Tu-128 was developed in the late 1950's/early 1960's and introduced in 1964. The Soviets needed a new interceptor aircraft that could cover a large radius and combat NATO bombers like the American B-52, mainly during adverse weather conditions. TU-128, with a maximum weight of 43 tonnes, was the heaviest fighter to enter service. The Tu-128 was armed with four Bisnovat R-4 air-to-air missiles. A total of 198 aircraft had been built when production ended in 1970. It was finally retired in 1990. 

The Tu-128UT pictured below was a training variant of the Tu-128. Their main difference was that instead of a radar on the top, Tu-128UT featured a second cockpit, where the trainer would sit. Because of its shape, it was nicknamed 'the pelican' by the Soviets. 

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