Paisley and pin-ups in a Bulgarian military ruin.
On Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, there lies a popular resort town known as Golden Sands. This modern holiday destination consists of a cluster of high-rise hotels, apartment blocks, restaurants, swimming pools and other seasonal attractions. Outside of the resort however, scattered far and wide along the scenic coastline, lie the unfinished remnants of holiday homes that never made it to completion.
The eight main buildings here were intended as luxurious holiday apartments, facing inwards onto a central garden and swimming pool.
With a little imagination, it is possible to picture how grand these dead concrete husks could eventually have been. At one end there stands a half completed multi-storey car park, while another building was clearly designed to house a reception area and restaurant. The site lies obscured by heavy foliage, no more than a minute’s walk from the beach.
Many of these hotel complexes are mafia-owned, and unbeknown to the crowds of British, Scandinavian, German and Russian tourists who flock here every summer, quite a few serve as money laundering operations. This particular project clearly ran out of funding at some point, and as a result was abandoned to the elements, mid-construction.
From the impressive growth of vines and brambles that cover the site, these buildings have clearly remained undisturbed for a good many years. In some places, young trees have sprung up right in front of doorways or windows – which gives an idea of just how long this site has been left abandoned. Inside buildings, not even graffiti mars the rough concrete and brick surfaces.
The two-storey buildings closest to the water are the easiest to gain access to. By scrambling up onto the window ledge you’ll soon find yourself inside the bare concrete cell of one of the ground floor apartments… and from here, you have a free range of the entire site.
A flight of weathered, moss-eaten stairs leads up to the first floor, where concrete balconies offer a superb sea view. The main entrance to each unit opens inwards onto the heart of the complex, where the lawn has now erupted into a chaotic tangle of vegetation.
From here it is possible to force your way through the brambles, to reach the taller buildings on the other side of the complex. This row of apartment buildings each feature three floors above ground, as well as a basement. I explored a couple of these pitch-black underground chambers, which were littered with animal carcasses and the musty odour of foxes.
More developed sites are usually preferred for urban exploration, as they allow the explorer to step inside the relics and trappings of a lifestyle abandoned to ruin.
Nevertheless, this barren site has its own unique charm. The size of the project alone makes it an interesting find, and it seems strange that such a prime seafront location would be left to waste, after so much work has already gone into it.
Walking around this derelict holiday village, the absence of graffiti and litter is also a welcome change from many of the more highly trafficked abandonments in the area – the feeling of exploring this site really is one of discovery, and of finding something that for many years has lain forgotten underneath the hungry tide of vegetation.
In this forgotten holiday park, you get an idea not only of the grand design which has fallen to waste, but also a sense that here at least, nature has won – as carefully laid bricks and mortar are slowly pulled back down into the earth by the inescapable grip of roots and vines.
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