Archive for November, 2010

Fort Campbell, Malta

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Malta

Malta is one of my favorite destinations. I just loved the place. The singularity of the country, between Europe and North Africa, the easy communication (English is spoken by 99% of the population), the variety of things to do, the mysterious landscape… and the list could go on and on. But anyway… anyone looking at a map will immediately understand the strategic position of the islands of Malta. And a strategic position means involvement in war. And involvement in war means ruins. Which is what this blog is about. For today’s article I picked Fort Campbell.

The place was built shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War by command of the British governor Bonham-Carter following his understanding of the need to protect the approaches to Mellihea and St Paul bay by sea. Works started in late 1937. Leaving behind dated concepts of military architecture, based in thick walls to hold infantry attacks, Campbell was built to face air strikes: its walls were thin, looking like the nearby civilian constructions in order to confuse attacking pilots. There were two platforms for 6″ guns plus several machine-guns positions. Inside the perimeter one would find a command post, barracks, ammunition storage buildings, water tank and battery observation post. Some distance far, three emplacements for search lights were prepared.

 



 

Getting to the place is possible either by car or public transportation. I’m providing a Google Maps link with the location of Fort Campbell. Unfortunately I can’t remember which bus drops you in the main road, close to Selmun palace (a must see place). From there it’s a short 15 min stroll to Fort Campbell, with easy orientation supported by visual contact.


Further information and galleries about Fort Campbell:

www.mellieha.com
www.killfish.f9.co.uk



Although I lived a few hundred meters from this place, back in the 90’s, it was only in 2006 that I visited for the first time. Typically the site is accessed after a 10 min ferry crossing from Lisbon to Cacilhas (departures from Cais do Sodré ferry station, which is served by Metro). Once in Cacilhas, one should walk West (i.e. to the right as we leave the ferry), always close to the water. After a great walk of about 1 km (which worth the visit for itself) one reaches the abandoned facilities.

The first building in the spot was a fortress (Forte da Pipa), abandoned in the 17th Century. Immediately after that the Arealva Farm was created. The company was inspired in the most modern methods and soon grow as a producer and distributor of top quality wines, developing some parallel activities like dealing with olive oil. In 1861 the local business man Domingos Afonso, who largely invested in the wine industry, was the owner of Vinhos da Arealva. Later, the ownership moved to Sociedade Vinícola Sul de Portugal, which hold the company until the end.

There are no projects to revive the place although some talk has been made about the pathway along the river. The potential of the whole area it’s obvious. It’s close to the populational heart of the country, namely to the capital Lisbon, and the beauty and interest of the place it’s an asset which has to be considered.







 

Coordinates:  38° 40.901’N    9° 10.039’W

Another gallery available online: http://ruinarte.blogspot.com/2010/05/quinta-da-arealva-almada.html

Ondaparque, Lisbon, Portugal

Posted: November 20, 2010 in Portugal

July 1993. In a tragic day, two children playing in a water park called “Aquaparque” (Restelo, Lisbon) are sucked into the pipes system and die. In the sequence of the case authorities unleashed an inspection campaign focused in dozens of similar spaces all around the country. By then water parks were on a boom in Portugal. Most of them were victims of the Aquaparque incident, not only due to following strict enforcement of security rules but also to the generalized fear which hit the Portuguese population.

Ondaparque, located in the north bank of Tagus river, about 20 km far from Lisbon was one of the water parks who couldn’t face the crisis. For my generation Ondaparque was a reference. It was a usual weekend destination for my high school mates. I never been there myself, as I was never fond of these spaces. But I was aware of the importance of Ondaparque. Anyway, the abandoned structures are still there and as far as I know there is no solution on sight. Apparently the area will be as it is for the forthcoming years.


You can easily hear the “ghosts” of thousands of youngsters there. Socializing, flirting, having the time of their lives. From there to Costa da Caparica, the main beach area serving the population of Lisbon, it’s a short ride and many people were combining both in a single weekend day.

To get there you should take the motorway leading to Costa da Caparica. These are the best coordinates to park your car and explore around: 38° 39.257’N 9° 13.563’W

The most direct way to get to Ondaparque is by crossing private grounds. I don’t foresee any troubles by doing so, but if you feel uncomfortable, you can walk around (direction NW) and enter from the upper hill.Either way I strongly advice you to walk up the hill, as the views from there are impressive, both to the whole water park complex and to the oceanic coast.





Buzludzha, Bulgaria

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Bulgaria


 

The first real post in my new blog dedicated to Urban Exploration will be about Buzludzha. This spot, which I visited during my recent trip to Bulgaria and Romania, was one of the highlights of the trip. Actually I was surprised by the lack of information for the lover of these things in Bulgaria. I “googled” a lot but found nothing but Buzludzha. Not complaining though. This one really worth the trip by itself. But let’s present some background.

In 1891, shortly after the independence from Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire, following the Russian-Turkish war of 1878, a strange meeting took place not far from the spot where today we can find this impressive building: a group of Bulgarian socialists, led by Dimitar Blagoev, gathered to discuss strategies for the forthcoming times. It’s not surprising that the spot became a holly place, about 50 years later, when the Communists seized power in the country. Coincidentally, it was there that the last resistance following the failed raising of 1868 fall to the Turkish troops.

The construction of the building involved Engineering Units from the Bulgarian Army which worked side by side with volunteer artisans and artists, including some notorious painters and sculptors. The creator of the project was the architect Guéorguy Stoilov  and the chief engineer was the general Delcho Delchev. After the ending of the works, every year a good number of people (about 40.000) gathered there to celebrate the past events, usually in late July or early August.

After the fall of the Communist State, the monument was abandoned. Several adornments were stolen and representations of the Communist leader Todor Givkov were vandalized.

Getting there is pretty straightforward. It just takes a car and a good map and you will find the spot, no difficulties expected. Be aware that Winter conditions can be harsh there and roads may be blocked. The whole place it’s spectacular. The building is one of the highlights, but the views from there are not to be ignored. Lower in the mountain you will find a couple of challets and restaurants and additional (small) monuments. It’s possible to park the car in that area and go up, as I suspect people would to for the gatherings, all the way to the main building.

My way in and my way out.

 

Obviously all my pictures were taken in the same day, in October, and there was already snow there. I wonder how the place will look like in other seasons. Once there you will find several openings which you can use to get in. No problems at all, and nobody will care for sure.

 


 

Further information and pictures:

Opening note

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Messages from the Editor

I created this blog to share my experiences as an explorer of abandoned places. I am aware that there is a crowd of us out there, people who like to breath the unique atmosphere one can find in such spots. To hear the ghosts of other times, lost amidst ruins. To imagine the splendor of a place which doesn’t exist anymore. I apologize to the international readers as most of the posts will be about locations in my own country, Portugal. But as an avid traveler, posts will cover a wider area, I dare to say, the Globe.

Pictures will be posted along with the texts as well as detailed information about how to get to the places, rumors regarding plans to demolish or recover ruins, need to trespass and expected penalties. Enjoy!