THE VILLAGE OF Rummu, in northern Estonia, is home to a geographical oddity: a lake with several offshore buildings that are partially or completely submerged, skirted by pale white hills that taper down to a gentle, beach-like incline. The lake is in fact a former limestone and marble quarry, now shut down and flooded. The site teems with plant and animal life, particularly in the summer, making it a striking blend of the idyllic and creepy – particularly given that one of the sunken buildings is a former prison that once housed the quarry’s involuntary labor source.Read More
SPOMENIK MONUMENT DATABASE, out this week from FUEL Publishing, chronicles the massive, brutalist war memorials spread across the former Yugoslavia. While “spomenik” simply means “memorial” in Serbo-Croatian, the word has come to be associated with the particular form these monuments took from the 1960s to the 1980s: wildly asymmetrical abstract constructions of concrete, stone and metal, often placed incongruously in remote, pastoral settings.Read More
EVEN AMONG THE three former Soviet satellite states known as the Baltics, themselves a curious amalgam of Central European, Scandinavian, and former-Soviet culture, Estonia is an anomaly.Read More
BUILT BETWEEN 1908 and 1910, the former Schöneberg gas storage and supply tank – better known as the Gasometer – remained in active use for over 8 decades. Finally decommissioned in 1995, its skeletal frame still looms over central Schöneberg.Read More
THE SCHARMÜTZELSEE, A LAKE in Brandenburg approximately halfway between Berlin and the Polish border, was a frequent destination for those seeking spa treatments and relaxation during the DDR era.Read More
RÜGEN, GERMANY'S LARGEST island, lies where the eastern Ostsee opens up into the Baltic. Closer to both Sweden and Denmark than to Hamburg, the island has remained remarkably untouched over centuries of changing rule...Read More
Now I know why they call Main Street a drag
– Jeremy Gluck, Sorrow Drive
CIVILISATIONS ARE JUDGED by what they leave behind. Sometime around the beginning of the automobile age – that period in the post-war years when car ownership became not merely affordable but essential – it was determined that there existed a proportional relationship between the speed of travel and the size a sign needed to be in order to convey its information to the traveller. Simply put, as roads grew wider and faster, the signs grew larger.Read More
The forests of eastern Saxony take on a dreamlike, glowing cast in late summer. The relentlessly verdant region is dotted with small, idyllic lakes that range in color from deep blue to turquoise to a deep, irridescent green, and the woods are still and silent, as if saving their energy for fall.
At the state's far eastern edge, just a few kilometers from the Polish border, stands a 150-year-old curiosity: a perfectly semicircular bridge called the Rakotzbrücke. The bridge, along with other equally curious stone artifacts, was built in the 1860s by the local count, and spans a small, eerie lake that is little more than a pond. That it still stands today is a testament as much to its inconvenience as its quality: though crossable on foot, it's tricky in the best of weather, and downright treacherous in winter (to say nothing of the nearby signs that prohibit crossing it at all).
Though technically located in the village of Kromlau, if you're coming from Berlin by train, the closest station is Weißwasser to the south. Sleepy on the busiest of days, and a veritable ghost town on Sundays, the area around the station is dotted with fenced-off village homes and colony-style gardens, interspersed (as is so much of the former East) with crumbling, ruined buildings, complete with trees and other vegetation growing through collapsed floors and open roofs.Read More
THE STRETCH OF road between Goffs and Amboy, California, has been around for over a hundred years, and in that time it has been known by many names. It initially formed a part of the National Old Trails Road, a primitive, mostly unpaved cross-country route that predated the establishment of the US highway system. In the late 1920s it was incorporated into Route 66 and under this designation it served for decades as the main thoroughfare through the Mojave desert.Read More
EVEN IN A city strewn with such a wealth of abandoned architectural oddities, Schloß Dammsmühle stands out as remarkable—both for its age (the main building is nearly 250 years old) and the remarkable (and infamous) pedigrees of some of its 20th-century owners. Built in 1768, it was alternately improved and abandoned through the Weimar era before being commandeered by the Nazis, and in 1940, Himmler made it his base of operations.Read More