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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.