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Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Bird's-Eye View Of Eastern Europe

Published 1 February 2016

While Western Europe and the United States have tightened laws on drones, countries of the former communist bloc have been slower to close their skies to unmanned aerial vehicles. Over the past two years, RFE/RL photographer Amos Chapple has made the most of the free airspace to capture a series of unique photographs of monuments dating back to the Soviet past and beyond.


Yerevan, Armenia. A dusting of snow coats the Genocide Memorial.


Central Balkan Mountains, Bulgaria. The abandoned communist monument of Buzludzha.


Loket, Czech Republic. The town is named for the Czech word for "elbow," a reference to the river that surrounds it.


Moscow, Russia. Red Square on a clear autumn morning.


Bucharest, Romania. The imposing Palace of the Parliament in downtown Bucharest.


St. Petersburg, Russia. The Church on Spilled Blood in low autumn light. 


Oswiecim, Poland. The remnants of the buildings that housed the prisoners of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.


Budapest, Hungary. The Liberty Statue, overlooking Budapest. Built in 1947 for the "Liberating Soviet Heroes," the inscription was amended swiftly after the U.S.S.R. collapsed. Today the monument is dedicated "To the memory of all those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary."


Brasov, Romania. Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle.


Gagra, Abkhazia. Russian holidaymakers packed tight on the pebbled Black Sea coastline. The breakaway Georgian region, which claims statehood but remains overwhelmingly unrecognized, is a popular destination for working-class Russians.


Kosice, Slovakia. The main boulevard of Kosice looks like it was unzipped just wide enough to fit St. Elizabeth Cathedral.


St. Petersburg, Russia. A carpet of fallen leaves in the Summer Garden.


Moscow, Russia. Hotel Ukraina lit up at dusk. The hotel is one of the iconic "Seven Sisters" -- skyscrapers built during Stalin's reign.


Moscow, Russia. The stainless-steel statue of Worker and Kolkhoz Woman striding into the future that was.


Brno, Czech Republic. The needle-sharp spires of the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul dominate the skyline.


Tbilisi, Georgia. An Orthodox Christian church above the Kura River.


Gali, Abkhazia. A ruined college in the south of Abkhazia, near the de facto border with the rest of Georgia. After a vicious ethnic conflict in the early '90s and a brief war that ushered in Russian occupation in 2008, the region remains a twilight zone of empty buildings and overgrown farmland.


Sofia, Bulgaria. St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.