(All images by Odin’s Raven, reproduced with permission)
Abandoned buildings, especially vast urban civic structures, are arguably among the most compelling facets of the urban landscape. But there’s something particularly intriguing and melancholy about forgotten churches, impressive places of worship that once welcomed large communities of parishioners before falling into decay, victims of shifting demographics and declining religious beliefs. This article features a number of abandoned churches from Europe to the United States, photographed by urban explorer Dan Raven.
Some abandoned chapels and churches have been converted for a variety of modern uses, one of the most impressive examples being the 700-year-old Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen, which is now a bookshop in Maastricht. But others, like the magnificent Church of the Transfiguration in Philadelphia, have been demolished. Above, another grand Pennsylvania church, its pews still in place, lingers on in silent dereliction.
From vast inner-city cathedrals to small rural chapels, older churches often display stunning examples of craftsmanship in their designs, which only serves to make their abandonment all the more incongruous with the work of the skilled masons who created them.
While some remain eerily silent, devoid of their congregations but in otherwise intact condition, others, such as the spectacular building below, have become dumping grounds for all manner of garbage. Time will tell whether these abandoned churches find new leases of life or fall victim to the wrecking ball. But their vast empty shells will continue to attract the attention of urban explorers intent on documenting the hidden world within our towns and cities.