(Not) Only in Russia: 7 Deserted Wonders of the Former USSR

Russian and Soviet Urban Abandonments

There are amazing abandonments in America but the former Soviet Union has some of the most interesting, unique and strange abandoned buildings. The complex political, military and social history of the country has led to everything from almost-finished buildings abandoned before actual use and entire abandoned cities to chilling gulags in which tens of millions of prisoners met their end. Check here for some creatively adapted British military sea forts and also be sure to check out part two in this series of amazing Russian abandonments. Also see more under: 100+ Abandoned Buildings, Places and Property.

Post-Soviet Collapse Abandoned City

Deserted Rural Russian City Buildings

Abandoned City: Promyshlennyi, Russia was abandoned with the fall of the Soviet Union, cut off from communication with and support from the government. When utilities and electricity stopped working, people simply left to find a home and work elsewhere, leaving buildings behind and many belongings in the wreckage. Today, the remnants of the things they owned and buildings they inhabited remain relatively untouched.

Top-Secret Abandoned Submarine Base

Abandoned Russian Underground Submarine Base

Abandoned Submarine Base: Balakava is a small town on the Black Sea Coast that was once the secret home to a Soviet nuclear submarine base. People with resident family members were not even allowed to visit the town without special dispensation from the government. Today, all of the submarines are gone but the base remains remarkably intact and can be visited by urban explorers from around the world.

Abandoned Prison Camp Complex

Russian Gulag Abandoned Historical Buildings

Abandoned Prison: Like concentration camps in Europe, the gulags are unique to Russian history. Abandoned gulag buildings are the physical evidence of mass imprisonment, forced labor and tacitly approved extermination. “Roosevelt observed that capitalism is unequally divided riches while socialism is equally divided poverty. Gulag prison life meant an equal distribution of death among the rich and poor, old and young.”

Abandoned Unused and Unfinished Buildings

Unfinished Russian Structures Under Construction

Abandoned (Never Used) Buildings: In most countries, abandonments remain in the wake of long-deserted structures that once saw heavy use. In Russia, some industrial, medical and administrative abandonments are merely the remnants of failed projects that were nearly completed but never put to use. In a way, these tell a unique kind of history .. a history of corrupt and confused leadership, a history absent of the normal metaphorical ghosts that haunt the halls of once-used structures. In short: a history of could-have-beens.

Abandoned Missile Silo Complex

Abandoned Russian Nuclear Missile Silo

Abandoned Missile Silo Complex: Of course, the breakup of the Soviet Union was followed by a significant nuclear disarmament leaving deserted silos scattered about the Russian countryside. The particular complex shown in the image above is located in Latvia and contains four silos as well as a central command and technical support bunker. Now decommissioned, some such silos are open for public tourist visitation.

Abandoned Waterfront Military Bunker

Abandoned Russian Military Fortress Structures

Abandoned Oceanside Fortress: Water fortifications were deemed necessary on the east coast of the Soviet Union to protect against possible attacks from Japan. In the southeast of Russia, Vladivostok is the largest port city on the Pacific Ocean. The fort and miles of tunnels featured in the photographs above have since fallen in disarray, but were once a highly prized (and extravagantly expensive) Russian defense construction project. Today it is a destination for Russian and other visitors complete with antiquated bombs and guided tours.

Abandoned Massive Heavy Equipment

Abandoned Communications and Mining Equipment

Abandoned Heavy Equipment: It is somewhat hard to imagine how incredibly costly and complex industrial and communications machines could ever be worth abandoning, yet in Russia one finds giant mining contraptions and satellite arrays left largely to succumb to the elements. The giant communications dish above is the size of a soccer field yet sits essentially idle today.

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