Laguna Vere in Tbilisi, Georgia, was once the premier aquatic sports centre in the Caucasus.
After my last report from the otherworldly ruins of Bulgaria’s Buzludzha Monument, this one might come as light relief. It also highlights some of the dangers of exploring abandoned buildings, this particular example posing severe risk of collapse in its heavily fire-damaged state.
You might recognise the building itself from my post exploring off-season beach bars… well, I just couldn’t resist going back and giving the place a proper look. The building suffered a crippling fire not long ago, and despite its prime seafront location, this once-grand building has since been left to slowly fall apart. Later I would learn that it had formerly served an embassy function: as the seat of the Turkish consulate in Varna.
Getting in was easy enough – I managed to climb over a rear wall in the dead of night, landing straight into the patio at the back of the house. From here there were a number of outhouses, full of litter and rags, and a musty human smell which gave the impression they had been recently slept in.
The back door to the property had long since fallen off its hinges, and so I made my way carefully into the main hallway. I was cautious of discovering vagrants or gypsies living inside, but as luck would have it the building was completely deserted… I guess even the desperate and homeless know a collapsing death trap of urban decay when they see it.
Inside, the building was a complete wreck.
Fallen timbers, litter and heavy graffiti filled every room, and in some places the floor had fallen away altogether – revealing a drop down to the basement beneath.
At the front right of the property there rose what appeared to be a great stone tower; this octagonal corner of the house had suffered worst from the flames, and not a trace of flooring was left across any of the four floors. As a result, I was able to walk into the ground floor and look straight up through a tall stone chimney at the stars above.
From here I made my way carefully up the concrete stairs. The floors appeared mostly intact across the first floor, but once or twice I stepped out of place, and my foot went straight through the charred wood. I even managed to find my way out onto the ornate balcony overlooking the street, before heading on up to the higher levels.
At the top of the building, little remained of the roof. The burnt ribcage of beams had long since collapsed in on itself, leaving only jagged spikes of charcoal arrayed in a haphazard mess. Again the floor here was treacherous, and so I was careful not to stray too far from the main joists and concrete supports. This top floor was the true reward of the expedition, though – wood and stone alike were blackened beyond recognition, forming a bizarre alien landscape, open to the night sky and atmospherically lit by the stars above.
The Exclusion Zone.
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