Mother Nature Fights Back: Places Around the World Being Reclaimed by Nature

Mon Apr 03 2023

We’ve been seeing a lot in the press about nature’s struggle against mankind, and we think it’s high time we focus on something positive. So we dug around to find places all around the world where Mother Earth is putting up a fight – and winning. Check out the locations where nature is reclaiming its ground.

Shopping malls, five-star hotels, or boarding schools; it’s all the same to Mother Nature. Plant and animal life finds a way of taking back places and making them it’s own – and the result is visually stunning. It makes us feel good to see the remarkable resilience nature has, even in the most unlikely situations.

Valley of the Mills, Italy

This gem is hidden away in Sorrento, Italy, within a deep and forested valley. The valley itself is around 35 thousand years old and often contains within itself a thick fog. To add to the mystery of this place, it has an ancient ruin that’s being eaten up by the surrounding foliage.

And here’s the thing – you can’t go down into the ravine. It was abandoned in 1866, having previously been a lively center for making fresh pasta. But now, the angle you’re seeing it from is the closest anyone can get to the protected area. So everyone is none the wiser as to what might still be inside.

Home in Tehran, Iran

Iranian photographer Gohar Dasht captured this unusual spectacle in an abandoned house in her home town. She wanted to explore what happens to these living quarters when people let go of them, and the results are a spectacle to behold. In this photo, a meadow of flowers grows from the earth that has replaced the flooring.

Gazing at her interior photography, we are left with two thoughts. The first being a recognition of how much of an impact people make on their natural surroundings. Secondly, we appreciate on a deeper level just how resilient nature is; people are only borrowing these spaces for a time.

Shopping Mall in Bangkok, Thailand

It’s hard to believe this one’s real. An abandoned shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand has become a home to some unexpected creatures – fish. Catfish, carp, and tilapia are among the majority, having rid the mall of a large mosquito population. Who would have thought that the flooding would make way for even more life?

It has been in this abandoned state for years, ever since Thailand’s Supreme Court ruled that seven of the 11 floors had been built illegally. It had to undergo a demolition, leaving what was left of the mall exposed to the elements. And since it’s been illegal to enter the building, Thailand’s wildlife has flourished in the depths.

Aral Sea, Kazakhstan

We doubt that this is what they thought would become of their abandoned ships when they were left near the Aral Sea. Located on what was once the sea bed, some new animals have moved into the area. Today, a shoal of camels takes refuge from the sun under the hull of the boats.

In what can be suffocating temperatures, these camels have found a use for the man-made objects. They’re now completely uninhabited by human life, which has allowed others to make use of the sizeable objects. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In this case, of course, they’re not men at all!

Hachijo Royal Resort, Japan

Come aboard this luxury hotel in Japan – just make sure you have somewhere else to stay for the night. Having opened in 1963, the Hachijo Royal Resort was one of the largest hotels in the hotel country. But it grew out of favor once the tourism boom had ceased, and was finally closed in 2006.

While some rooms are piled high with rotting trash, others like this bedroom suite have had an eruption of flora. Plants have sprung up all around where the plush carpet once was, and mold has consumed the soft furnishings and wallpaper. Today, it looks like the stuff of dreams – or maybe nightmares.

Lava Ravaged Church, Mexico

When a volcano erupted in the Mexican state of Michoacán in 1943, it consumed the village of San Juan Parangaricutiro with volcanic ash and lava. The whole city, slowly, got covered over in a process that took close to a year. The lava melted around every building and every object. Luckily, its slow speed allowed for all the residents to evacuate without harm.

The only thing that remains is the very top of the town’s church. And this natural occurrence left behind a bizarre, mostly submerged underground, place of worship. It is now stuck in the ground for good, as the lava has hardened into solidified rock. Mother nature really did a good job reclaiming this town.

Fishing Village, China

Off the coast of Shanghai, one of the Chinese Shengsi islands has been overrun with vegetation in a now-abandoned fishing village. Houtouwan once housed more than 2000 fisherman and their families but was left behind by them in the 90s due to its isolated location.

While there are still a few people who continue to live there, greenery has now washed over the entire village. It was a once-bustling location that has completely changed appearance due to the growth of vine plants. And it’s really rather beautiful to behold a village that’s densely blanketed in vegetation.

Boarding School, Croatia

On a self-assigned mission to “explore lost places” across Europe, German photographer Michael Schwan dug deep to find some extraordinary locations. While in Croatia, he stumbled upon an abandoned boarding school with more than a few surprises. How many of us are familiar with having a bar in our school?

As an elite school, however, this wasn’t like the rest of them. Specializing in political education, it was built in 1981 only to be abandoned in 1990. But since then, it’s been hosting different types of life forms. Check out the plant-life that’s reclaiming the ground once more.

Amusement Park in Nara City, Japan

Having closed in 2006, this theme park was once a frequented and fully functional place for over half a century. It’s located in Nara City, Japan, in what was once the capital city of the country. But the park has since been forgotten by the people, allowing for the natural landscape to thrive there instead.

Just take a look at this rollercoaster. What was once a lively playground of flashing lights and screams has turned into something new. Vines creep evermore up its metal frame and threaten to swallow it whole someday. It makes us wonder how long it will until we can’t see the rollercoaster at all!

Spider Web Beach, Greece

Take a look at this bizarre natural phenomenon. Residents in Aitoliko, Greece, woke up one morning to their 1000 foot-long spider web all along the coast in 2018. It blanketed the foliage in particular, as it’s the spiders favored place to set up camp.

Needless to say, the locals were startled. They described it as “swallowed” up by webs, in one of the eeriest occurrences to have happened. Interestingly, the area is bustling with life and not an abandoned site. But people assumed it was the spider population’s way of trapping insects while temperatures were hotter than usual.

Home in Tehran, Iran

“The photographs reveal the power of nature to consume and conquer a home,” claims the photographer, Gohar Dashti. She created a series to reflect how “People are transient while nature is a constant,” having stumbled upon places that had been abandoned in her home town.

She chose to focus on this space in order to make a point about nature flourishing without the disturbance of people. In the absence of human life, other types of life have space to grow – and they do so very successfully. But to see such a familiar location overwhelmed with shrubbery is startling. As she puts it, it shows “what happens when one’s home is left behind.”

Ski Resort, Japan

In something that looks straight from science-fiction, moss has found a clever way to grow. It’s not just making use of the ground, it’s consuming the furniture as well giving a whole new meaning to the term table cover. The chair lining the tables give us a clue as to what this space used to entertain.

To think, this is what’s become of a luxurious ski resort in Japan. What was once a flocked to be well-pocketed tourists would now not look out of place in Blade Runner or any film set in a post-apocalyptic world. When all is said and done, nature prevails.

Country Home, Norway

One house in Norway has succeeded in assimilating to its environment more than others. We’ve seen turfed roofs before where people create carefully maintained garden on the top of their homes, but nothing quite measures up to this one. This gives a whole new meaning to the word treehouse.

It’s actually common practice to have plants growing on top of single-home houses. It’s said to root the house better into its environment, something which this house has taken to the next degree. Trees are sprouting far past the brick chimney. We can’t help but wonder what the roots look like inside.

Train Graveyard, Hungary

No people; no problem. This abandoned carriage has been put to good use by the surrounding flora that clings to the side of the train. And the end result is a beautiful marriage of man-made machine vs nature. Of course, it’s not the end at all, and if left untouched it will continue to consume the old mode of transport.

Despite being sheltered by an equally abandoned building, the light that leaks through has succeeded in giving new life to Hungary’s vegetation. It’s a nice reminder that while objects and people come and go, nature will continue to rile its head regardless.

Prison on The Devil’s Island

We’ve always been told that the roots of a tree are strong and run as deep as what we see above ground. This place couldn’t be more of a testament to that idea, as we see the roots of a great tree overwhelm the space that once held prisoners. We can see how far it travels down the long corridor.

And the roots of a tree can be incredibly destructive – many homes have been dislodged or cracked open due to overgrowth. Still, this ex-penitentiary on the Devil’s Island is a stark reminder that nature can and does come back with a vengeance.

Abandoned Office, Unknown

Mother nature has treated this abandoned office room to a whole new carpet, and the result is rather beautiful. The moss-covered floor is an array of greens, browns, and caramel colors that make it almost look like it was designed that way.

Look at it this way; you wouldn’t be worried about accidentally staining the floor. What’s impressing us is that nature’s fight with civilization has, so far, only been contained to the floor space. The rest of the room looks untouched. But give it a few more years, we’re sure this office space would look a whole lot different.

Châtillon Car Graveyard in Cologne, Belgium

This poignant photograph of a car graveyard shows around 250 abandoned automobiles in a rural Belgium area. Naturally, as they’ve been left untouched, the surrounding wildlife began to move into the territory and make it their own.

As well as giving us a show of retro cars, we can see the fight between machines vs nature. It is a forest treasure of cars from the Second World War period that were too expensive to be shipped back to America when the fight was won. So here they lie, losing their fight with Mother Earth.

Ferris Wheel, U.S.A

These vine plants aren’t playing games. If you leave something around long enough, they will completely engulf the item no matter the height or material. This abandoned amusement park didn’t stand a chance once it was deserted by humans.

This image was captured by a 27-year-old photographer during his travels across North America. And this abandoned Ferris wheel has become a thing of beauty and part of a natural wonder, showing how nature has no prejudice about what it won’t try to reclaim.

Temple at Angkor, Cambodia

Named Ta Prohm, this once was a temple in the Siem Reap Province of Cambodia, built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. It was also a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university, founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII, and is now a preserved conservation site of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Other than it’s historical relevance, we can easily see what makes it so special. Somehow, a tree was planted on top of the temple and over many hundreds of years, has built itself a sturdy base. We can even see the roots of the tree spreading all across the building’s facade, making it the centerpiece.

Dreamland Theme Park, Japan

The wildlife of Japan is succeeding in taking this deserted rollercoaster for a ride of its own. The vegetation has grown as tall as the ride itself and has now started wrapping itself around its twists and turns. If it continues to consume the ride, it’s gonna one heck of an interesting looking plant!

The vine plant almost looks like a snake suffocating its prey. And now it’s reached the top of the construction, it will only be subject to more undisturbed sunlight and nutrients. We look forward to seeing this in a few more years once there’s no more of the rollercoaster we can see.

Deserted Garage, Belgium

This automobile is a little beyond repair. In an abandoned garage in Belgium, this car is being eaten up by more than plants. Numerous trees have somehow sprouted underneath the car’s shadow and through the hood. It’s really quite miraculous to see how strong the will to survive can be.

Somehow, the trees are thriving in their unusual circumstances. They couldn’t move the automobile, after all, so they grew into it. This photo really shows how resilient nature is despite the challenging circumstances.

Abandoned Factory, Ohio

When this factory in Ohio was deserted, it didn’t take long for Mother Nature to move in. And the result, as it stands today, is beautiful. Vine plants make their way up the high factory walls, threatening to engulf its already enormous size. When left untouched, these plants can grow for miles on end.

Ivy is known for growing as tall as any object would allow it, hugging the twists and turns as it makes its way to the top. As we can see, it can completely transform the look of anything, as long as the object stays in one place.

Subway Station, New York

Did you ever think you’d see such a tropical wonderland in New York City? We know it’s hard to believe, but this place really is in the big apple. This subway station may have been abandoned by humans, but it’s teeming with a different kind of life, despite the dark conditions.

Who would have thought that such a narrow light source would be enough to feed all these plants? They are growing from within the old railway tracks and transforming a place completely void of nature into its own. The once wood and concrete floor has become a bed of leaves.

Home in Tehran, Iran

Gohar Dasht stuns us with this breath-taking photo of an abandoned mansion in Tehran. It seems more like a dream or a scene from a psychedelic movie than real life, as we catch this glimpse of a familiar environment that is overrun with plants on the floor.

It almost makes us question if the house was even there first – it looks as though it could have been dropped on top of a field of plants. But that’s the beauty of this image; it shows the fight between people vs nature. Ultimately, it appears that nature always prevails.

Ardtully Castle, Ireland

Check out how this majestic Irish castle has been overwhelmed with lush vegetation from the inside out. Situated near the village of Kilgarvan in County Kerry, Ireland, it is a Scottish-Baronial style house that was built in 1847. With no one attending to the building, trees have been allowed to dominate the space and even break open the roof.

In 1921 the Irish War of Independence was in full swing and Sir Richard Orpen Townsend, the man behind the two-storey masterpiece, had his home burned down by the Irish Republican Army. Never having been rebuilt since then, mother nature knew it was her time to shine.

Abandoned Jet in Mazovia, Poland

Deep in the Polish country, a British tourist caught a spectacular image from his drone camera of an abandoned aircraft. It is situated in the middle of farmland, located in the small village of Wolka Nosowska in Mazovia. Somehow, this jet got stuck in the groove of the land and was simply abandoned.

It is thought that the pilot had to crash land the aircraft and it was deemed more effort than it’s worth to remove the jet and repair it. Therefore, this PZL TS-11 trainer jet is simply left to rust away in the natural environment. It’s definitely not what you’d expect to see among an agricultural landscape.

Al Madam, Dubai

60 km away from the city of Dubai lies the ghost town of Al Madam that’s being swallowed up by dry desert sand. These houses were built during the ’70s and ’80s and were inhabited by the Al Kutbi tribe (one of the three biggest tribes in the area.) Spookily, neighboring locals aren’t too sure why they were excavated.

Today, it’s called the “buried village” by Emirati people and it’s easy to see why. The buildings look as if they are half-submerged in the barren landscape and it’s just as bizarre inside. There’s even an abandoned Mosque in the area. We wonder how long it will take until you can’t see any more buildings.

Overgrown Plant Nursery, Ohio

A greenhouse is meant to protect plants that don’t do well in cold weather. But this plant nursery was a little too successful, as the flora has been flourishing since it was abandoned. Every inch of this conservatory is covered in plant life, going to prove that mother nature doesn’t need our help at all.

Interestingly, there’s so much foliage on the roof of the greenhouse that the light can barely get through one of the sides. Furthermore, some of the windows are broken, so it’s not an efficiently functioning conservatory. Still, the plants are growing strong despite the little sun they get and exposure to the elements.

Star Jet Roller Coaster, New Jersey

This insane photo shows the steel roller coaster Star Jet, that was operating in the Casino Pier amusement Park in New Jersey. It was only 10 years old when Hurricane Sandy swept it away into the Atlantic Ocean in 2012, only for it to be half submerged. Amazingly, it was largely intact after the unplanned relocation.

Naturally, they weren’t going to leave it by the ocean shore indefinitely. It took four days for a crew to remove it the following year, meaning there were several months where people could still see it in Seaside heights. If we ever forget just how powerful mother nature is, this should serve as a proper reminder.

Banyan Tree Building in Guangzhou, China

In an incredible display of nature and man cohabitating, there is a huge Banyan tree growing within a building in south China. For over 40 years, this tree has been allowed to expand and adapt to the unusual environment, and proved that nature can adjust to mankind in amazing ways.

The large and intricate root system is embedded in the walls in such a way that it extends from the top of the building to the bottom. Somehow the four-story residential building in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, is habitable and has several occupants living there. We would love to see it.

Bicycle Eaten by A Tree on Vashon Island, Washington

In a photo that proves nature is more powerful than man, this old tree has swallowed up a bicycle that was once firmly on the ground. After many years of leaning on it, the tree has continued to grow around the two-wheeler and even lifted it off the floor as has advanced in height.

Hidden in the woods of Washington on Vashon Island, this retro throwback is definitely a treat for any hikers that stumble in its path. It’s close to Vashon highway, where you could jump out of your car and go explore. Nature may be slow but if you give it the time, it puts up a hell of a fight against mankind.

Gostwyck Chapel All Saints Anglican Church, Australia

This magical place is Gostwyck Chapel, All Saints Anglican Church located in New South Wales, Australia. It was built in 1921 and despite initial assumptions, it’s not been abandoned. Virginia creeper ivy has covered all of its sides, turning the Church into a glorious scarlet red.

It was originally built in memory of Major Clive Collingwood Dangar who gave his life while fighting in World War One. It’s made entirely of bricks and hasn’t been renovated, making it a beautiful relic that’s providing the means for new life to grow on top of it.

Ghost City Prypiat, Ukraine

After the disastrous events at Chernobyl’s Nuclear Power Plant in 1986, the nearby town of Prypiat had to be evacuated. It was essentially abandoned and has since become a ghost city, where the trees, plants, and wildlife are free to populate the area. Check out this incredible aerial view of the town.

We can see how the treetops have grown to the height of buildings that are many several stories high. They’ve also grown in numbers, so much so that the entire area looks like a forest. After less than 40 years left untouched by mankind, it has blossomed into an area full of life and vitality.

Ancient Ficus Tree, Australia

This tree has a serious determination to live. It’s an old Ficus tree along the North-East coast of Australia, where it is just one of several trees running along a 20th-century pavement. It’s a great example of nature fighting to stay alive in an urban environment.

Unlike its counterparts, the root system has actually grown on top of the pavement bricks. They have grown into grid-like shapes, adapting to the crevices where they can get nutrients. The end result is this intricate design, that shows us just how strong and resilient nature can be.

Abandoned Cars at Fukushima, Japan

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 forced locals to flee the area quickly. 160,000 people had to evacuate their homes within a 20km radius of the radioactive exclusion zone. Because of it, incredible scenes like this exist, where a graveyard of cars occupy a space where there once was a road.

Now, there’s no road that can be seen from an aerial shot. plants and trees have grown over, even enveloping some of the cars entirely. In a few more years, it’s likely that all the vehicles will be buried underneath the flora. If left undisturbed by us, mother earth has a way of recovering the lost natural world.

Overrun Silos in Magnolia Springs, Georgia

On a farm in Southeastern Georgia by Magnolia Springs State Park, these two silos have been left in disarray for many years. With no maintenance, trees have been allowed to root on the roof of one of the grain towers, with ivy’s climbing right to the very top. The metal wiring around along their walls has made it easier for them to grow.

It’s amazing to see nature find a way to absorb even the tallest and most unnatural structures into its ecosystem. Now, these plants depend on the solid cylindrical structures, and it would do more harm to the environment to remove them. We think it’s rather beautiful this way, too.

Tickle Me Elmo, Unknown Woods

Most of us will know about Elmo the muppet character in the popular children’s TV show Sesame Street. You’ll remember his bright red fur and his big yellow nose, which made its way into the toy world with the Tickle Me Elmo. It encouraged the user to tickle its fur, which would activate it vocal component.

This Elmo, however, has long been deceased, as it was discarded on the floor bed of an unknown wooded area. But that didn’t mean it couldn’t still be of use – moss has grown all over Elmo’s soft material, leaving it a luscious green instead. The only thing that remains intact is his eyes…

Victorian Treehouse, Florida

This cornflower blue Victorian treehouse is one for the books. Not only is it suspended above the ground, but it also has two ancient trees going straight through the front porch! It’s long been abandoned by its tenants, who were clearly quite wealthy. The home boasts of many luxuries from a bygone era.

Not only is the property spacious, but it has huge bay windows, three story’s, and a grand entrance. But since it has been abandoned, plant life has sprung up in several corners of the property. And with those great trees piercing through, it looks like it jumped straight out of a fantasy film.

MS World Discoverer, Soloman Islands

This great ship was once an MS World Discoverer, but now it’s just a monument in the sea. It was a German expedition cruise ship that came into collision with an uncharted reef in the sandfly passage, and never made it back to shore. It’s was deserted in April 2000.

The waters weren’t deep enough to completely submerge the vessel, meaning that plants and trees have spectacularly found a home on-board the ship. Busting out of the portholes and on the front deck is a variety of flora growing up towards the sun. Even on a slanted surface.

City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana

Take a look at this abandoned City Methodist Church from 1925. Located in Gary, Indiana, it was part of a compound that included commercial retail spaces, an education building, and a theater. It had over 3,000 members but, after it was dropped by the city of Gary, only 150 remained.

The church closed officially in 1975 and has been at the mercy of mother nature ever since. As we can see, the strong church walls are holding up fairly well after almost 50 years of neglect, but the windows and the roofing is another story. In the winter, snow builds up on the surfaces to create a serene white carpet.