Urbex Photography Finds the Beauty in Decay

By Barbara Fletcher


Because images of the forgotten remind us of where we’ve been — and what we’ve lost. 

Abandoned homes. Deserted buildings. To some, an eyesore or a troubling reminder of loss. But for urbex photographers like Jascha Hoste in the Netherlands, derelict buildings hold a special beauty and fascination — in both the challenge of the capture itself and telling a decades-old story.


Urbex is a branch of urban exploration where artists and adventurers seek out ruined manmade structures — often at risk of personal injury or punishment for trespassing. But why photograph peeling wallpaper, dusty furniture and cobwebbed windows? What’s the fascination?

“People need someone to show them the beauty of these places, because they can’t see it themselves,” says Hoste via email. “And when they see it, they are able to imagine how it must have been, living in these places, in those times.” Which can be an exciting, mysterious or even frightening experience.

photo of bedroom with grass being grown on bed, torn curtains, dilapidated walls

Berghotel Deluxe, Germany

The Netherlands-based Hoste has been an urbex photographer since 2007, capturing hundreds of old mansions, abandoned hospitals, crumbling churches and other building ruins in Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium. His mission: ”There are so many empty buildings in Europe, especially former East Germany, rotting away. Such a shame. With my photos, I hope to immortalize this beauty before it has totally rotted away.” 


Connecting with the forgotten can be especially poignant. Hoste recalls the experience of photographing Maison Heinen in Luxembourg: ”When you walk in this room … you have the feeling you walk into another time in history. It looks like a fairy tale, like time stood still — incredibly beautiful. You just can’t believe that it’s all still there, hardly touched by time or anything. Like you’ve gone back in time 50 years. It’s unbelievable that no one looks at it, cherishes it.” 

Thanks to the deft fingers and keen eye of Jascha Hoste, we can look at it, can cherish the “beauty of decay” — whether online or at his latest photography exhibition, running until May 22 in Schiermonnikoog, Netherlands.

Color photo of room with table in middle and chairs with wooden cabinets, artful celing

Maison Heinen, Luxembourg

Color image of exterior of dilapidated home

Villa Lambin, Belgium

color photo of black and white tiled floor, orange walls and white piano to the right

X-Press, Belgium

Inside of a bedroom with wall papers and wood planed ceilings and a wooden bed

The Tree Mansion, Belgium

Color photo of dining room with crucifix, dining room table and 4 chairs with rug

Maison H3, Belgium

Color image looking up circular stairwell to the ceiling

Maison Heinen, Luxembourg: Most of the walls and ceilings are decorated, and several rooms still have the antique furniture inside. It’s difficult to say how long this building has been abandoned, but inside there are several documents from the 1950s.

Image of old television on wooden cabinet with brown printed wall paper

Hotel HH, Germany: This hotel could hold 200 guests. In the GDR era, many people spent their holidays here. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it deteriorated rapidly. It has been abandoned since the early ’90s.

color image of inside of bathroom looking towards the window with landscape seen

Lindau Sanatorium, Germany

Color photo of interior of bedroom with wooden headboard and night stand and a scale on the floor

Maison Kirsch, Luxembourg: The house has been empty since the mid-’60s. The electricity was turned off five years ago because of the wiring — leaving it on would have been a fire hazard. Everything you see originally belonged inside the house, but not necessarily in the place you see it. The owner is still alive, as are the heirs.

color photo of inside of bedroom with wooden bed frame, dresser

Maison Heinen, Luxembourg

Dilapidated stair case with blue tones, cracked paint and graffiti on wall

Hospital L, Germany

photo from inside empty older room looking towards the shaded windows with sun coming through

Beelitz Heilstätten, Germany: This lung hospital and sanatorium was built between 1898 and 1930 in the forests around Beelitz. The site was huge and one of the biggest hospitals of its kind.

Jascha Hoste is a photographer from Groningen, Netherlands. More of his urbex photography is available on his websiteFacebook and Instagram.