There has always been something captivating for me in relation to abandoned buildings. Maybe it is because of my love for history and curiosity for understanding the past or the thrill I get from exploring and discovering something new. Something I like to enjoy doing is take the time to picture what an abandoned building or historical site once used to look like, what was its purpose and why did it become the way it is now. My curiosity for visiting abandoned locations I would have to say ultimately began with exploring Chernobyl in Ukraine and the nearby towns like Pripyat in early 2017. Prior to this trip I had never visited a country with any direct ties or influence by the Soviet Union, which is a period of history I have always been interested in. When I had the opportunity to see these things up close in personal for the first time in Ukraine, I began to become even more intrigued and felt the urge to see more and learn more. Ukraine is only one country with a soviet past but there is also a small country located in the South Caucasus which also bears this same kind of connection to that period of time, Armenia. Armenia has abandoned soviet locations scattered all throughout the country, however they are most prevalent in and around Jermuk.
Jermuk is located 172 km south east of Yerevan in Vayots Dzor province. It is a stunning mountainous region both wild and mysterious. Jermuk is a mountain spa town known for its hot springs and mineral water pools and has become popular amongst tourists and health services. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Armenia becoming independent there was a small Azerbaijani community living there amongst Armenians up until 1988 when the Nagorno-Karabakh War broke out forcing them to move and head east to Azerbaijan. Below are some photos of some interesting Soviet Union structures within Jermuk.
The abandoned Soviet textile factory of Vayots Dzor Province was once a thriving factory and was one of the best in Armenia with its massive production on a regular basis. The factory was abandoned in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union and the location then became locked in time and a forgotten time capsule. Within this location are still balls of yarn and thread on the old machines, lockers filled with personal photographs and folktale murals on the walls. Immediately walking into this factory you sense the importance it once had during the Soviet Union simply by its size and number of high end machines used for textile work.
Gladzor Spa Hotel was built in 1986 and was a popular place to visit for Russians and Armenians during the Soviet Union days. The hotel originally had 500 beds and many of the rooms are like taking a step back in time with green pastel colored wallpaper and chandeliers to give more of a high end and elegant feel to the rooms. This hotel was a popular place for those with money so the decor was most likely partially chosen in regards to the kinds of guests who used to stay there. Some areas of the hotel had renovations done in hopes to attract new visitors, it reopened in 1995 but no one was very interested and it became abandoned again. Sadly, several other attempts to restore and renovate came to a halt because of finances.
The abandoned Soviet culture center was one of my highlights of Jermuk. Many important concerts, and events took place in this location as well meetings with important and upcoming influential figures in art. People from within and around Jermuk of all ages used to come here to enjoy watching a movie or enjoy their time at the local pool. In the center of the complex are plaster busts of Armenian intellectuals/artists (writers, poets, musicians, painters) most likely friendly to the Soviet Union like composer Aram Khachaturyan, originally from Tbilisi but spent the majority of his life in Moscow, poet and writer Hovhannes Tumanyan who passed away shortly after the beginning of the Soviet Union, poet and translator Paruyr Sevak, as well as priest and founder of the Armenian national school of music Komitas. The building is around 80 meters long and has a Chernobyl like feel to it, almost giving me flash backs to my trip in 2017. The deteriorating complex was seized by an Armenian bank after an Armenian businessman purchased the building with intentions to restore it but ran into financial problems.