Abandoned buildings have a strange and mysterious allure to them, drawing you in to explore and think about how they may have been all those years ago, while at the same time scaring you a bit. It doesn’t matter if it is an abandoned factory, a disused railway, a burned-out vehicle or a half-collapsed church… Seeing one of these always makes you think about how things were when these hunks of stones, concrete and metal were bustling with activity and what they could have been used for.
“Urbex” (meaning urban exploring, but it pretty much means exploring abandoned buildings) is quite popular these days, but it is also somewhat restricted by pesky things like health and safety regulations and of course trespassing being illegal. Some people want to climb the highest old factory chimney, some want to do a fun, post-apocalyptic photoshoot and some do graffiti. I usually just get a thrill out of climbing over half-collapsed walls, exploring odd buildings, searching for clues about previous use, taking photos and getting an adrenaline rush from all of this.
Let’s get something out of the way here: I’m not trying to encourage you to climb into the nearest abandoned factory, because it’s probably dangerous and illegal. However, if you do, it is a really thrilling and fun experience, but please be smart about it. It’s not a great idea to get eaten by guard dogs or fall down collapsing stairs…
Since I’ve arrived to Granada, I just seem to keep bumping into cool abandoned places that are great for exploring. First off, along the hiking route “Vereda de la Estrella” there are a series of abandoned mining facilities and you can also see the remains of an old tram line on the way there. At one of these mines called Cortijos de la Probadora, you even have the mine shaft itself open and you can just walk in. I explored that a bit when I was there, but honestly, I didn’t want to get lost, alone in a mine deep under the mountain. But it would be exciting to see what you can find if you go there with the right equipment!
As I was flying my drone around Los Pinillos I found this interesting old building complex next to a quarry. It seems to have been linked with that in some way, but I didn’t exactly manage to figure out what its purpose was.
In Alhama de Granada, there is an old mill that is down in the canyon, pretty much in the village, that you can just walk around. Some of the buildings are completely collapsed and some are well preserved. You can’t really get into any of them, but walking through the complex is already fascinating and the canyon walls towering over the place makes the whole thing that much more epic.
But my favorite recent discovery was the abandoned sugar factory in the outskirts of Granada called Azucarera San Isidro. It is a huge complex of buildings covering a large area. The vegetation is pretty dense, so sometimes it is difficult to move between the buildings, but it is super interesting. Almost all of the them are open and some things have been preserved extremely well. In one of the buildings we found a bunch of paperwork, like work logs and payslips from as far back as 1924! The great thing is that they are just left there and nobody takes them home. Here, the “Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints!” principle applies just as when you are out in nature, so the people coming after you can see and experience the same cool things!
The other thing that really struck me was the graffiti. I’m used to abandoned buildings being covered in graffiti, but the quality of the work in this complex is truly amazing. There are so many awesome pieces of art here that very few people ever get to see, so I’m so glad we visited!
Seeing these abandoned buildings is a special thing to me. On the one hand, it’s a huge adrenaline rush and the inner child just loves the idea of exploring something spooky, being somewhere I’m not necessarily supposed to be. On the other hand, the archaeologist in me is looking for clues to explain what a place was for and how it was used and I also feel privileged to have seen these places before they totally collapse or are torn down for new developments.