5 Pillars of the Abandoned World: Fallen Institutions, Lost Industry & More

Time is the great equalizer, and as the world has advanced and science progressed, many great structures and institutions have dwindled or fallen.  From industrial relics, giant skyscrapers and grand mansions left unfinished or unwanted, to abandoned religious, financial and urban structures, the changing nature of our time has given rise to an alternative urban landscape where the forgotten and the modern coexist.  These five fascinating pillars of the abandoned world represent just a select few of those institutions.

(Images: Juan Salmoral, cc-nc-nd-3.0; Richard Carter (see website), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Valley of Mills (Vallone dei Mulini), Sorrento, Italy: This incredible valley near the coastal town of Amalfi was once at the heart of the Campania region’s thriving paper industry from the Middle Ages until the 19th century.  Deserted during the 1800s, this striking industrial ruin is one of a network mills that still stand in the valley, capturing the imagination of photographers and urban explorers alike. (Read more about Sorrento’s Valley of the Mills.)

(Images: Paul-Henri S (see website), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

Chateau de Noisy, Belgium: Originally named Chateau Miranda, this abandoned mansion was reportedly designed in 1866 by an English architect and resembles the setting of a gothic horror film.  Once the grand residence of an affluent family, Chateau de Noisy was allegedly occupied by the Nazis during World War Two before becoming an orphanage.  The castle has been abandoned since 1991 with little apparent will to restore it.

(Images by Detroiturbex.com, reproduced with permission)

St. Agnes Catholic Church, Detroit: Completed in 1924, this grand church was built to replace a temporary structure that had served St. Agnes Parish in Detroit since about 1914.  St. Agnes became a  Martyrs of Uganda parish after 1989, and finally closed due to financial difficulties in 2006.  According to Detroiturbex, the organ pipes, chandaliers, altar and stained glass windows were still extant in 2007.  But they had gone by 2009, and the former Catholic church’s condition has deteriorated heavily due to water damage.

(Images: Daan Oude Elferink (see website); Cédric Mayence (see website), all rights reserved)

Abandoned Stock Exchange, Antwerp: Urban explorers haven’t shared much information about this spectacular building, and it’s no surprise that those in the urbex community want to protect it against vandals and other unwanted visitors.  Reportedly the old Stock Exchange building in Antwerp, the wonderful stonework, ornate glass and steel roof, and eerie emptiness make this abandoned building a Holy Grail of urban exploration. (Explore Antwerp’s abandoned Stock Exchange in more depth.)

(Images: Axel Drainville (see website), cc-nc-3.0)

Abandoned Skyscrapers in Bangkok: When Thailand’s housing market collapsed as a result of the financial crisis, construction work ceased on these skyscrapers, which have been abandoned ever since.  Unlike other structures that were occupied for generations before falling into disuse, these giant abandonments loom above the Bangkok skyline like ghostly concrete skeletons.  Perhaps one day they’ll be completed, like the notorious Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Part Two – 5 (More) Amazing Pillars of the Abandoned World: From Grand Theatres & Asylums to Stately Homes



  • Very cool, how awesome would it be to visit these locations and go exploring!

  • Tom

    Thanks a lot for your feedback Riggy – I definitely agree there are some awesome places out there!

  • Arch

    Brilliant piece and some very nice pictures.

  • Dave

    That valley of mills is stunning. Definitely one of the coolest locations I’ve seen in ages. FYI, the stock exchange is in Belgium, not Luxembourg.

  • Tom

    Dave, that’s awesome – thanks for the feedback and the correction, and glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Tom

    Thanks Arch, much appreciated!

  • You’ve confused “alter, to change” with “altar, a table or flat structure used for religious ritual, from Latin ‘altare’ meaning ‘burning place’.”

  • Tom

    Thanks for the heads-up Tony and good spot there.  I need to be more thorough when editing!

  • Tom

    Well spotted Tony! Thanks for the heads-up and mistake corrected!

  • Tom

    Thanks for the heads up, Tony!  Error corrected.

  • You should explore Aberpergwm House near to Glyn-Neath South Wales UK. A very old house which is now sadly a ruin.

  • These are truly stunning photos!

  • potedude

    How amazing is that stock market? It looks like the inside of a church! And the actual church in Detroit, how did that fall into ruin?

    Living in a relatively affluent and young country (Australia) I find this stuff fascinating. We have very few ruins, certainly nothing of this scale. The only area we have is Maralinga which is guarded and in the middle of nowhere.

    Great stuff…

  • This is insane. Can’t believe that those are abandoned. They are very interesting and intriguing though.


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