Laguna Vere in Tbilisi, Georgia, was once the premier aquatic sports centre in the Caucasus.
This now-ruined restaurant was built in 1968, on the edge of a cliff high above the Black Sea. Nestled in the shadow of a lighthouse, the site commands spectacular views over one of Bulgaria’s largest seaports from its high promontory across the bay.
It isn’t hard to imagine how spectacular this site must once have been; patrons would have dined on a large patio jutting out over the edge of the cliff, while the lights of the city danced across the water far beneath them.
However, in 1997 this popular restaurant was struck by an act of god… a severe landslide caused parts of the sandstone cliff face to crumble away, and as the restaurant’s foundations lost their grip in the moving earth beneath, a large portion of the building fell into the sea. The concrete patio snapped in half, sending tables and chairs crashing down to the water below.
Luckily, the landslide occurred out of business hours and so nobody was harmed. What remains today is a husk of a restaurant perched on the cliff face at Galata; in numerous rooms the tiled floor ends abruptly with a sheer drop, and crumbling walls balance precariously on the brink. The patio can still be seen, hanging over the edge of the cliff, suspended by twisted iron bars inlaid into the concrete.
Getting into the site was easy enough… despite the presence of two armed police officers, sat in a watch post on the unmarked access road that leads from the village of Galata to the lighthouse.
The restaurant has certainly had its share of visitors since the disaster, as is evident from the colourful array of graffiti that adorns almost every surface. Like other popular sites for urban exploration in Bulgaria, the building has been completely stripped of metals; even the electricity cables in the walls have been torn out like sinews, and traded no doubt for some small handful of change at the local scrapyard.
There is a good network of rooms to explore around the ruins of Galatea; kitchens, store rooms, toilets, corridors, and even access tunnels for the pipes which run beneath the restaurant’s floor. However, the outdoor area is the real treasure here, and is the feature that sets the Fallen Restaurant apart from other urbex sites in Bulgaria.
The once picturesque patio commands truly outstanding views across the Black Sea… until halfway across, where the concrete splits in two and the ground beyond falls away to a dizzying forty-five degree angle.
It is even possible to explore the floor beneath this one, and see the cracked balcony from beneath. The lower level is reached by descending down a weather-worn set of concrete stairs, which look as though they could have been designed for the fairground funhouse.
While the interior of the building itself is nothing special – strewn as it is with litter and graffiti – the sight of this once magnificent restaurant, quite literally hanging off the side of a cliff, makes for a unique and powerful image of urban decay.
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