9 Socialist Modernist Buildings that Look Straight Out of Science Fiction

1. Bank of Georgia, Tbilisi.

The Lego like building was finished in 1975. One of the architects, George Chakhava, was the client as well, as he was acting Deputy Minister of highway construction. It was a very convenient situation, as he was able to choose the exact location. As you can see, the structure seems to float. The architects employed the ‘Space City Method’ – using minimal building footprint to award as much of the land as possible back to the nature. Hippie indeed! The building is 18 floors tall and has a total surface of 13.500 square feet. Bank of Georgia decided to buy the building in 2007 and renovated it completely, ensuring that future generations will have the chance to admire one of the most striking socialist modernist buildings.

State Department for Traffic Tbilisi

2. House of Soviets, Kaliningrad.

Kaliningrad is an exclave of Russia, basically the closest piece of Russian land to Western Europe. Before 1946, the area and the seaport Kaliningrad belonged to East Prussia, part of the German state of Prussia. Until 1969, Konigsberg Castle, an old Teutonic structure lied where the ‘Buried Robot’ is placed. This picture right here portrays the House of Soviets, a construction erected by the soviets starting with 1970. Starting with, because it was never actually finished. There were a couple of construction problems. First, they realized that building upon the old castle structure was not feasible, thus cutting 7 floors down. Secondly, they ran out of funding in 1985.

House of Soviets, Kaliningrad

3. Slovak Radio Building, Bratislava

The inverted pyramid has been included in the list of 30 most ugliest buildings in the world. Some find it fascinating, though. The 80 meters high construction houses a large concert hall and the Slovak Radio since 1984, a year after it was completed.

Slovak Radio, Bratislava

4. Russia Cinema, Yerevan

The odd construction erected in 1974 houses two movie halls. It was turned into a market place recently.

Cinema Russia, Yerevan

5. State Circus, Bucharest.

The wavy roofed building was finished in 1961 and is now included in the list of protected monuments, rara avis for post-socialist countries. As usually was the cases for such buildings, it was aimed at providing culture for working class neighborhoods.

State Circus, Bucharest

6. Drujba Hotel, Yalta.

Drujba means friendship in Russia, a beautiful choice exhibited by the sheer simplicity and warmth awarded by its symmetry. The hotel was constructed in 1984 by Czechoslovak architects and has a capacity of 400 people. The panorama must be gorgeous.

drujba hotel yalta

 

7. Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex

Demirchyan Complex sits on a hill in northwestern Yerevan. The impressive building hosts four large rooms for concerts, sports, a foyer and diplomatic events. The first years were troublesome, as a fire forced the authorities to close it in 1985, less than two years since the opening. In 1987 it was reopen for the public. An Armenian running a business in Moscow decided to buy the building from the Government. After three years of intense and very costly ($42 million) renovation, the building was found in an excellent shape back in 2008. The Government decided to take it back in August 2014, because the owner’s debt increased.

hamalir, Yerevan

8. Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

When the construction of this building complex started in 1974, the plans must have seemed terribly impressive. Probably at the time of its completion, 1994, it gradually lost some of its grandeur. The golden metal accessories of the 23 stories high main building lit up at night and are knick-named ‘the golden brains’ by the Russians.

Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow

9. Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria

Buzludha is the name of the mountain peak where this alien spaceship rests. The Bulgarian Communist Party decided in 1981 to comemorate 100 years since the the first socialist movement was founded, which happened right in the area. Unfortunately, the Star Trek-like construction fell out of grace and is now in an advanced state of disrepair. Buzludzha is one of the most exquisite examples of futuristic architecture from a socialist country.

Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria

 

6 Impressive Central and Eastern European Castles

Central and Eastern European countries share only one historical commonalty, they have been socialist countries for many decades. However, their architectural heritage is quite diverse and the region houses some of the most impressive castles in the world. Each of these countries possesses impressive numbers of fortresses, castles and palaces, so picking just six of them is quite a burden. Nevertheless, here are six impressive Central and Eastern European castles.

1. Prague Castle – Czech Republic

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is listed as the largest ancient castle in the world by Guinness Book of Records, with an area of approximately 70.000 square meters. The first parts of the castle were erected in 870 AD. The castle is actually an ensemble of religious and administrative buildings. As a result, the architectural style is quite diverse and presents traces of influential trends from the last millennium. Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors used to reside there and now the castle houses the President of the Czech Republic.

2. Buda Castle – Hungary

Buda CastleThe impressive Hungarian castle located in Budapest is old as well. The first completed version is dated back to the year 1265. The hilly castle location allowed Hungarian kings and rulers to have the best gaze over their closest subjects from Pest, located just across the Danube. The present shape of the main building was given in the 19th century. The whole area surrounding the castle is classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, as it contains well preserved medieval and baroque buildings.

3. Hunyad Castle – Romania

Hunyad Castle

The Gothic Renaissance castle is located roughly in the middle of Romania in the Southern Transylvanian city of Hunedoara. The region itself is filled with medieval castles, but the Hunyad Castle is one of the most impressive, even if Bran Castle is probably more famous. Vlad the Impaler, Bram Stoker’s inspiration for the Dracula myth, was held prisoner here for a while by Hungarian leaders. Hunyad Castle was built in 1446, while the last modifications were made in the 19th century. This castle is considered to be one of the most fairy-tale like Eastern European castles.

4. Malbork Castle – Poland

Malbork Castle

The 13th century castle is famous for a couple of reasons. Marlbork Castle is the largest brick building in Europe. Moreover, it is the largest castle in the world by surface area, taking all its adjacent buildings into account. The castle was completed in 1406 by Teutonic Knights, making it one of the most impressive Central and Eastern European Castles. The Teutonic Order who founded the castle called it Marienburg (Mary’s Castle) and the reason they chose this location was to exert influence over the newly conquered territory. What an impressive statement!

5. Bratislava Castle – Slovakia

Bratislava Castle

The second castle from this list neighboring the Danube is the pride of Slovakia. The castle site connects the Carpathians and the Alps so the region is inhabited for several thousand years. The earliest efforts to erect the castle date back to the 9th century. During the 11th and 12th centuries, a pre-Romanesque stone palace is mentioned to have been placed on the site. Maria Theresa was the last ruler to have the widest influence over Bratislave Castle, which was turned into a luxurious Rococo structure. A fire destroyed the castle in 1811, which was partially rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s.

6. Otocec Castle – Slovenia

Otocec Castle

Otocec castle is the only water castle from Slovenia. The 13th century building has a certain charm which helped it become a successful five stars hotel. Otocec Castle lies on an island on the Iazy Krka River. Historically, lords and noblemen inhabited it and the present day aspect was shaped during the Renaissance. The classical castle doesn’t need thorough description, as the picture accurately conveys the dreamy atmosphere only a water castle can possess.

 

9 of Dita Pepe’s Self-Portraits with Men

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Photographers don’t just have to push a button and that’s it. There’s much more to their work than we generally believe. They have to think of concepts, and messages, and compositions and atmosphere. The fact that all of us can become popular artists nowadays with the help of all sorts of applications doesn’t make us worth the boast. So let’s take a look at what a Czech female photographer, Dita Pepe has been up to lately. Here are 9 of Dita Pepe’s self-portraits with men. All the photographs from this post belong to Dita Pepe.

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Who is she?

Dita Pepe was born in 1973 in Ostrava, and belongs to a generation of Czech artists initially working under an atmosphere of intense attention from the West regarding her country’s artistic developments, just what generally happened towards other countries from the former Soviet bloc. This attention was meant to consolidate the entrance of art rising from that territory in a larger artistic circuit from which it was deprived during the forty years preceding the Velvet Revolution.

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What did she do to get where she is right now?

After moving to Germany at 19, she spent her first pay-check on a camera. Having been raised in a communist country, she became fascinated by the way Germans lived their lives and started documenting her experiences. Soon she turned the focus on herself, and that’s when the specific trait of her art started to fall into place.

“One of the main reasons I went to Germany was to get away from my dominant father whose influence on me led to my low self-esteem,” Pepe wrote via email. She went to therapy, spent time in libraries, took on a variety of odd jobs, including working as a waitress and a cleaning lady, and eventually married an older psychology student named Francesco Pepe, whom she divorced later in her life, but who had supported the beginning of her career and her goals.

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What’s Self-Portraits with Men all about?

In 2003 she got a master degree for a series of pictures connected with “the Self-portraits”. For this theme she took pictures of herself and men, as their current partner or even wife. These pictures were made in exterior with the use of artificial light. The main purpose was to capture the tie of the photographed people with their reality and their environment. This project has not been finished yet and in the course of time Dita adds new works to it. Some of te men she already knew, some she didn’t. Moreover, the little girl that sometimes appears in these photographs is Dita’s daughter. Pepe’s presence in her own photographs perfectly mingles with the details of intimacy present in the pre-existent world she enters, profile and social background of the person she is portraying, that makes us wonder about the identity of the artist herself. Dita Pepe suggests two narratives: one of going in and out of the skin of the people she portraits, and the other of the personal story of each of those people, which can be presumed through their personal objects.

“Taking self-portraits with men made me realise how different partners influence one another,” Pepe wrote.

The book about Dita Pepe

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Dita Pepe Self-portraits is the first book about her and especially about her working on this collection. It was published in 2012 and written by Vladimir Birgus. It basically portrays her as a woman of many faces, infinite faces. Daughter, granddaughter, sister, or friend of many women, wife, lover, or friend of many men, mother of many children. Chameleon. Dita Pepe has created dozens of meticulously staged self-portraits in which she changes her age, character, and social status, and adapts to the people with whom she is photographed. It’s one of the best-photographed social-documentaries of our time.

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6 of the Most Impressive Subway Stations in the World

We spend an unimaginably long time travelling by subway. If you come to think of it, it’s a rather strange behaviour we humans have, but the advantages defy any discussions related to this odd mean of conveyance. We use it, and it helps us a lot to get from point A to point B, all across town. But there are a few places on Earth who have subway stations that stand for real museums, and tourists come from everywhere just to visit them. So therefore oddity is transformed in art in its strictest sense. Here are 6 of the most impressive subway stations in the world.

# 1. Moscow’s Central Ring

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Moscow has its central subway route like a ring around city center, marked by impressive stops. The thing is that the Russians have kept all their post Communist pride inside these subway stations, which are absolutely stunning. With huge statues representing the workers and their leaders, fancy lamps and mosaics representing glorious phases from the history of Russia, they are worth every stop. In case you don’t have time for all of them, at least go visit the Kievskaya and the Komsomolskaya stations.

# 2. Stockholm’s subway

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In Stockholm, the Tunnelbana is often considered the longest art exhibition in the world. The word actually stands for “underground” in Swedish. The station we’re talking about here is also referred to as the T-Centralen station, which is the core of the Stockholm Metro. Back in the 1950s, artists Vera Nilsson and Siri Derkert proposed that art should be part of the new subway system. The Tub3 section of the station is where the Blue Line runs, thus the blue and white artwork, which dates back to the 1970s. Inspired by the two, there are now more than 140 artists represented in 90 of Stockholm’s subway stations, including both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Also check out Kungstradgarden Station, inspired by the Makalos Palace.

# 3. Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel

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Actually the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel is not a subway stop. As the name “sightseeing tunnel” suggests, it is a touristic tunnel, running below the Huangpu River. It was originally planned to be a moving walkway to shuttle visitors from the Bund to Pudong, but this concept proved to be much more thrilling with flashing colored lights and exciting surprises.

# 4. Lisbon’s Olaias Station

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The purpose of the Olaias station was to link the inner city with the Expo ’98 area. Portuguese architect Tomás Taveira and a team of Portuguese artists, including Pedro Cabrita Reis, Graça Pereira Coutinho, Pedro Calapez and Rui Sanchez, designed it. Like many others in Portugal, it has a contemporary interior design, including dramatic coloring and exquisitely crafted tiles.

# 5. Kaohsiung’s Formosa Boulevard Station

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Formosa Boulevard is one of the busiest stations in Kaohsiung city, is also the location of the Dome of Light that’s located on the upper part of the station and is known as the biggest public art installation all over the globe. Artist Narcissus Quagliata is to be thanked for putting together the dome in a little less than four years, which included shipping pieces of colored glass directly from Germany.

# 6. Dubai Metro Stations

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Dubai’s railway stations were designed by Aedas of Birmingham to combine both traditional and modern architectural elements. All trains and stations are air conditioned with platform edge doors. For instance the Khalid Bin Al Waleed station has interiors inspired by the four elements: water, air, earth and fire, along with oversized chandelier lamps in the shape of jellyfish.

So now you’ve got a good reason to plan your trips accordingly, and have no excuse to go back to your hotel when your feet are a bit tired of all the sightseeing. Get a ticket and enjoy the subways!

7 of the World’s Strangest Museums

When it comes to traveling, visiting museums is basically the main interest. You take your most practical shoes out of the closet and start walking and walking and walking, until your knees go stiff. But the mirage of discovering unique cultures apart from our own is always rewarding. If an unconventional visiting trip is what you are looking for, maybe some stranger museums would be your cup of tea. So let’s take a look at 7 of the world’s strangest museums.

1. Parasite Museum, Tokyo

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A visit to Japan, Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum can change the way you generally see parasites forever. Probably because it offers you the unique occasion to actually take a look at what crawls on your inside and outside. This research facility is the only one in the world that invites guests inside to explore exhibits on parasites and their life cycles with over 300 actual specimens on display. The piece de resistance is a 30-foot tapeworm pulled out of a woman who had reportedly picked it up eating sushi. It has no entrance fee whatsoever, so there’s more to spend on posters with intestinal parasites.

2. Museum of Funeral Carriages, Barcelona

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The vehicles used to transport the deceased have always intrigued many due to their unusual energy, but they definitely have grandeur, as you can simply witness by exploring the Funeral Carriage Museum in Barcelona, Spain.  The exhibit consists of 13 beautiful funeral carriages and six coaches that were used to transport departed citizens to their eternal resting place.

3. Phallus Museum, Reykjavik

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According to its website, it houses more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals found in Iceland. Ranging from displays of blue whale members to those from mice and shrews, the museum also has a section on folklore with examples it claims are from elves, trolls and sea monsters.

4. Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, New Delhi

Sulabh international toilet museum

Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak offers a unique perspective regarding the history of toilets for the past 4,500 years. It underlines the historic evolution of the toilet and looks at how toilets vary around the world.

5. The Garbage Museum, Stratford

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The Garbage Museum features a huge dinosaur made from a ton of trash, which is the average amount produced per year by a single person. Visitors can gain unique perspective on Connecticut’s garbage by walking through a giant compost pile and following the recycling process from start to finish. In other words this goes out to the ecologist in you. It’s rather educational for kids, who can actually learn what garbage is, how much it actually is, and how one can help save the world. Go Planet!

6. The Museum of Human Disease, Sydney

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The Museum of Human Disease offers a bird’s eye view on a huge variety of diseases as well as their effects on the human body. It’s the best way to understand death in a unique perspective due to the fact that you can take part dissection workshops or explore some of the large number of vital organs on display. It is a somewhat successful attempt to explain the phenomenon of death in an unusual, yet practical manner.

7. Leila’s Hair Museum, Independence

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The Hair Museum proves that hair can be used when creating works of art. It contains thousands of wreaths and various creative jewelry pieces made out of real human hair, very popular in the Victorian period. There are also multiple pieces containing hair from famous people, including the likes of Queen Victoria.

The thing is that you can find museums on almost everything. An accurate city guide is the right thing to carry in your pocket in case you decide you want to see something else rather than the classical British Museum or The Louvre. Happy travelling!