Believe it or not, the Nazis dreamt of their own version of Butlin's. Hitler himself gave orders to "construct an enormous seaside resort, the grandest and most impressive ever". The result was Prora: a monstrously vast and ugly stretch of block-like buildings, built on the German island of Rugen. Almost three miles long, the string of structures were designed to accommodate up to 20,000 people at any one time.
The dawn of World War Two scuppered the Nazis' holiday plans, and the buildings were never put to their intended use. For decades they have stood empty: a creepy monument to misguided Nazi vanity. Parts of the structure have served as a hostel in the past, and now a section is slowly being transformed into luxury apartments. Though whether the new residents will be put off by the remaining swathes of empty building, with their graffiti and broken windows, remains to be seen.
THE HOUSE-MONUMENT OF THE BULGARIAN COMMUNIST PARTY
On a mountain peak in Bulgaria stands a surreal sight. Resembling a round, grey UFO that's casually landed amid rugged countryside, this is the House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party, which was opened in 1981 by Communist leader Todor Zhivkov. On opening day, he came out with words which would prove ironic: "Let the pathways leading here, to the legendary Buzludzha Peak... where the first Marxists came to continue the work of sacred and pure love... never fall into disrepair."
Well, the monument is now in such a state of disrepair that visitors risk being cut by broken glass, being hit by errant concrete, or falling through a rotten stairwell. Yet the place still fascinates as a ruined relic of the Eastern Bloc, with its vast assembly chamber adorned with faded mosaics of Communist icons. And then there's the poignant graffiti left by wry visitors. The word "Communism" in the shape of the Coca-Cola logo, and the words "Never Forget Your Past" over the bolted entrance.
If you were to fly over the town of Mirny in Russia, you'd be forgiven for thinking it had narrowly escaped being flattened by a meteorite. Right next to the streets, there's a vast, deep crater, stretching almost a mile across. This is actually the Mir mine, an immense open pit which once helped fuelled the expansion of the Soviet Union, and the Cold War itself.
Developed in the 1950s after Soviet geologists discovered evidence of diamonds in the area, the mine was built in the harshest conditions imaginable. The climate got so cold that car tires would shatter, and workers had to aim aeroplane jet engines at the ground to thaw out the frost. A treasure trove of diamonds was dug out - the largest gem was given the resolutely unromantic name, "26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union". Today the mine lies dormant: a weird abyss in the hostile landscape of Siberia.
Lying around 10 miles from the city of Nagasaki, is the eerie Japanese island of Hashima. Known as "Battleship Island" because of the ship-like silhouette it casts on the horizon, it was once a self-enclosed city populated by workers who would descend to treacherous undersea coal mines. At its peak in the 1950s, well over 5,000 people lived on this chunk of land, which had its own hospital, leisure facilities and shopping areas.
The mines were closed in the 1970s, and the island was abruptly abandoned. It's now a shattered maritime ghost town, and all the more ominous for the dark chapter during the 1930s and 40s when Korean civilians and Chinese POWs were put to slave labour on the island. The area is now familiar to cinema goers as it inspired the look of the villain's lair in James Bond film Skyfall.
Ryugyong Hotel juts up into the sky like one of the Ministries in Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is fitting because it sits within the nearest thing we have to a real-life Orwellian state: North Korea. This triangular monolith was constructed decades ago, but construction was halted in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived North Korea of its biggest benefactor.
The strikingly ugly building was simply left empty for decades, looming over the landscape like a giant's tomb. Little wonder that one magazine dubbed it "the worst building in the history of mankind". Surprisingly, it came back to life in 2008, when - thanks to foreign investment - the towerblock was suddenly covered in over £111 million worth of glass, drawing comparisons to the Shard in London. Its long-heralded opening never happened though, and it's still unclear whether this gigantic folly can ever be put to good use.