Some photographers take pleasure in capturing pristine environments. But for others, their creativity is sparked by photographing the beauty of what once was. This is particularly true for Roman Robroek, who merges his love of photography, travel, architecture, cultural heritage, and adventure by seeking out abandoned buildings. One of his most haunting set of images shows a huge variety of churches across Europe in different states of decay.
These religious buildings, once community gathering spaces, have been left to be reclaimed by nature. Whether they were abandoned due to damage during a natural disaster or simply located in an uninhabited village, each space has its own unique story to tell. For Robroek, this work affords him a closer look at the craftsmanship and decadence of the past while allowing him to share these wonders with a wider public.
“I find it important to document a small piece of history that way and open the door for people to peek inside the buildings that they normally wouldn’t see,” Robroek tells My Modern Met. “Next to that, I’m a huge fan of the old architecture in general. Modern architecture is not my thing. This way the old architecture won’t be forgotten.”
Robroek scouts his locations in several ways. One approach is by virtually discovering churches using Google Streetview. In other cases, he plays detective and looks for clues in photographs he finds, or he searches newspapers for mentions of decaying buildings. Lastly, he has a group of trusted colleagues who share his passion. This allows him insight into special locations that have not yet been spoiled. “It’s important to know who you can trust because there is nothing worse than a location getting vandalized, robbed out or sprayed with graffiti because it became too popular to visit.”
Sit back and enjoy these photographs, which will transport you to another world and leave you wondering about the stories behind these mysterious spaces.