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Abandoned Architecture of the World

Updated on June 19, 2013

For as long as I can remember I have been intrigued by abandoned places. Hospitals, amusement parks, schools, even whole towns. The spirits of these places are frozen in time while the buildings themselves are left to crumble. Some of these ruins are very well known, such as Pripyat or San Zhi, while others are rather obscure. Below are a handful of abandoned places that I have chosen because of their architectural beauty.


Bokor Hill Station: Cambodia

Built: 1925

Abandoned: Late 1940s, 1972

History: Bokor Hill Station, made up of a hotel, casino, church, and several shops, was built as a resort for French colonists. Nearly 1,000 Cambodian laborers lost their lives during the construction process. The Station was abandoned by the French during the First Indochina War, and after the war ended the Khmer Issarak Cambodians moved in. Bokor Hill was once again abandoned in 1972 when Khmer Rouge took over.

Today: Bokor Hill is open to tourists although the trip can be difficult. There are plans underway to develop the site, including repairing the existing buildings and erecting several new ones.

Bokor Hill


High Royds Asylum: Menston, England

Built: 1888

Abandoned: 2003

History: For 115 years High Royds Asylum served as a self sustaining community. It was equipped with four farms, a bakery, a laundry mat, a fire station, and mortuary. The original building held 1,440 beds; two more blocks were added in 1898 and 1902, raising the capacity to 1,526 patients. The hospital was closed in 2003 after it was decided that the facility was outdated and no longer suitable for treatment.

Today: Redevelopment of High Royds began in 2007 and is ongoing. The town will feature new luxury apartments as well as several of the remaining hospital buildings.

High Royds Documentary


Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church: Detroit, Michigan

Built: 1910

Abandoned: 1990s

History: In the early 20th century Detroit was experiencing significant growth. By 1907 it was decided that a new Presbyterian Church shall be built to serve the expanding North end of the city. Cleveland architecture firm Badgley and Nicklas designed the church and the cornerstone was placed January 1, 1910. By 1921 the church had 2,204 members, making it one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in Detroit. Beginning in the 1950s middle class families began leaving the city to live in the suburbs and church attendance dropped. In 1993 services ended and the building fell into disrepair.

Today: Between 1993 and 2009 the building declined and was vandalized. In 2009 the Cathedral of Praise Baptist Church purchased the building with the intention of returning it to working condition. Insufficient funding has continued to delay the renovation.

Panoramic View of Woodward Avenue Church


Chateau de Noisy (Miranda Castle): Celles, Belgium

Built: 1866

Abandoned: 1991

History: Designed by an English architect named Milner, Chateau Miranda was intended as a summer house for the Liedekerke de beau family. The family resided in the house until World War II, when it was taken over by German troops. After 1950 it was used to house children of railway workers as well as orphans. A fire destroyed much of the interior in 1991 and the Chateau has sat empty since.

Today: The city of Celles has offered to buy the building, however the family has refused. They reportedly wanted to convert the Chateau to a hotel but could not find funds. The building has fallen into a derelict state.

Chateau de Noisy Photoset

Urban Exploration

Someday I hope to visit these places (and many, many others!). If you have any experience with urban exploration, or a favorite abandoned/forgotten place I would love to hear about it.


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