back to top

16 Abandoned Places That Show What Life Will Be Like After Humans

"Every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable." —John F. Kennedy

Posted on

Nikon teamed up with urban explorer David de Rueda for a remarkable 44-day journey, spanning nine countries and some of the most secluded and mysterious abandoned locations in Europe.

Here, in his own words and images, is a breathtaking glimpse into what life will be like after humanity...

1. Abandoned radar station in the mountains of Italy

David de Rueda

"After almost three hours of walking through snow 50 cm deep, we reached these huge frozen antennas. A full moon, clear sky, and snow everywhere: The atmosphere was unreal."

2. Inside the cooling tower of an abandoned nuclear power plant

David de Rueda

"This is inside the cooling tower of a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl that was never completed. Cooling towers are impressive from the outside but even more so from the inside. In the middle of this raw architecture, my character is looking at the forgotten grandeur."

3. An abandoned space program

David de Rueda

"This image is the result of 180 kilometres of off-road driving in the Kazakhstan desert, followed by 45 kilometres of walking in a highly restricted area. We arrived and there they were; two relics of the Soviet space race in a huge abandoned warehouse. It may be the single most epic scene I’ve discovered since picking up a camera."

4. Amusement park after the nuclear fallout

David de Rueda

"I asked myself how I could capture the famous ferris wheel in Pripyat from a new and original point of view. Luckily, my wish to have some snow was fulfilled, providing a dreamy ambiance that totally changed Pripyat. Positioning myself on a rooftop next to the wheel, I finally captured the picture I was looking for."

5. Inside an abandoned hospital

David de Rueda

"This is an unknown room in a former Pripyat hospital and one of the first buildings I explored in Pripyat. The oven appears to have exploded in the centre of the room and destroyed everything around it."

6. Visiting the hospital's waiting room

David de Rueda

"This is the waiting room in the remains of the Pripyat hospital. The room caught my eye with its colors and decaying plant life – you get the sense that time has frozen here."

7. What was once a concert hall

David de Rueda

"Linnahall is a former concert hall in Tallinn, Estonia. With a two-minute exposure, I could reveal the architecture of the place, which otherwise sat in darkness. The central framing gives the photograph its power, drawing the eye right to the centre. To me, it almost looks like a spaceship."

8. A forgotten aircraft

David de Rueda

"Somewhere in a deserted area of Iceland’s south coast lies this long-forgotten wreck of a Douglas DC-3 aircraft. I arrived there at 4am and, as we waited, polar lights gradually appeared on the horizon. I admired this magic show until dawn and used a 90-second exposure, with some light painting added inside the plane, to capture this image."

9. The train graveyard of Budapest

David de Rueda

"In Budapest, I explored this derelict train graveyard. Located in the middle of an active train depot, I felt like a child escaping reality to walk for a few hours in an imagined world of steel monsters."

10. Entering an abandoned power plant in Hungary

David de Rueda

"Scouting, crawling, and climbing were part of the mission to access this abandoned power plant near Budapest, Hungary. We had to enter the plant through the coal shaft, a 100 metre-long rising corridor full of dust and sun rays: the ideal location to create this ‘apparition’ and reference the ghosts of this structure’s heritage."

11. Once inside the power plant

David de Rueda

"Inside the abandoned power plant was an impressive place with a huge sense of scale, abandoned machinery everywhere and a strong, haunting atmosphere. I felt like I was in a science-fiction movie and wanted to create my own world with this photograph."

12. What was once a café before the nuclear fallout

David de Rueda

"This is a former cafe in Pripyat. I wanted to highlight the beautiful glass work and create something unique with a long exposure and light painting. We constructed one main source of light inside the building, a second light behind the Pripyat sign to create a sense of depth, and a third one illuminating the café’s original sign."

13. A disused experimental power facility

David de Rueda

"This picture was taken in a disused experimental power facility near Moscow, which was closely guarded by half a dozen dogs. After a little persuasive discussion, the caretaker let us in. As the sun was setting, I had a few minutes to find the perfect point of view. A chance bird flying overhead added further poetry to the scene."

14. A forgotten 19th-century factory

David de Rueda

"In Saint Petersburg, we explored an old factory built during the 19th century. The place was huge. I liked this particular room because of its shape, the light, and the creative potential I could add to it with my model. She’s the focal point in the picture."

15. Ghost town at dawn

David de Rueda

"In the abandoned town of Pripyat, I had the chance to witness a sunrise from the top of Pripyat’s highest building, the Fujiyama. Sun rays ran in the middle of the dead city, bringing the whole place back to life for a few short seconds."

16. Monuments of past empires

David de Rueda

"This is the Buzludzha monument in Bulgaria. I decided to explore it at night, defying the thick fog wrapping the mountain, to experience a close encounter of the third kind!"

To view more of David's photographs, be sure to check out his website at davidderueda.com

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss