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Forgotten 'Stalinist Utopia' Perches Above the Caspian Sea

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Neft Dashlari is a city built on stilts in the Caspian Sea, the largest offshore oil city in the world. It, like many other Soviet Era developments and wannabe utopian villages, is now a shadow of what it was built to be. Created in 1949 at the behest of Joseph Stalin, who, according to the recent feature by The Atlantic Cities, relied on the oil-rich sea to provide fuel and moolah during WWII, Neft Dashlari aimed to house a population of 5,000 workers and their families. Nowadays it's home to less than half that number. What's more, those who've stayed, The Atlantic Cities writes, are "constantly fights against natural forces that want to drag it down into the dark waters."

The city, about 40 miles east of the capital of Azerbaijan, includes a series of eight-story apartment buildings, plus a 300-seat movie theater, bakery, bathhouse, soccer field, and lemonade factory. It also, according to Germany's Der Spiegel, inspired the creators of the 1999 Bond film The World is Not Enough to film Pierce Brosnan dodging bullets as he runs through "a labyrinth of pipes and bridges."

Spiegel, which dubbed Neft Dashlari a "Stalinist utopia for the working class," said that in its prime, the city boasted some 2,000 drilling platforms connected by bridges that stretched across 186 miles. It had a vegetable garden and a park. Indeed it became something of a symbol for the U.S.S.R.'s hope and industriousness. As the newspaper writes: "A Soviet stamp from 1971 summed up the gigantic hopes it embodied in a tiny image: against the black outline of a drilling rig, a road made of bridges snaked its way across the deep blue sea towards further rigs and a red sun on the horizon." Have a look at it now, below.

· Forbidden City of Oil Platforms: The Rise and Fall of Stalin's Atlantis [Der Spiegel via The Atlantic Cities]
· 13 Oddball Examples of Reclaimed Soviet Architecture [Curbed National]
· Here Now, a Look at Eight Utterly Failed Pop-Up Cities [Curbed National]
· All Abandonment Issues posts [Curbed National]