December 8, 2019

The Beauty of Abandoned Palaces

“Building wrecks come in all shapes and sizes, but when a palace falls apart, it tends to attract a greater level of fascination.
That’s the premise behind a new book, “Abandoned Palaces,” which examines some of the most striking ruined chateaus, mansions and palazzi around the world.

Among them are the homes of kings, military commanders, dictators, business magnates — some destroyed by fire or natural disaster, others left to crumble after their occupants fell from grace.

The author, historian Micheal Kerrigan, says his fascination with forgotten places began in childhood when his playground was a derelict rail yard behind his house in Liverpool, England.

The more palatial wrecks assembled in the book, he says, share an affinity with the grittier surroundings of his youth.

“There was this sense that these ruins could be a playground,” he tells CNN Travel. “These things do touch the imagination at a very basic level — this sense of the past, in the present.”

He says that while any abandoned building can have a certain past-meets-present allure, there’s something especially intriguing about such impossible grandeur turning to such everyday decay.

“There’s a dignity in a disused petrol station,” suggests Kerrigan. “But it doesn’t have quite the same universal poetic ring, if you like.”

Kerrigan’s book compiles derelict palaces spanning centuries and continents from an Irish country home that was later a base for the paramilitary Irish Republican Army to Haiti’s Sans Souci palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

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