Pictures That Show Nature Fighting Back Against Development

Monica Gray - February 29, 2024

They always say that we need Mother Nature, but Mother Nature does not need us. Without human interference, nature has no issues taking over what was once hers. There are tons of abandoned buildings and places around the world that were once bustling and thriving, but since their abandonment, nature has fought back and taken over.

According to photographer Romain Veillon, who is working on photographing many abandoned places overtaken by nature, said, “We are all fascinated by this post-apocalyptic vision,” he says. “Maybe we need to be the witness of that to enjoy what we have and the time in front of us.” He claims it is a necessity to live in harmony within our habitat.


The Stop Sign Tree

Whoever said a tree couldn’t be a stop sign, too? This tree decided to set up shop inside of this stop sign and make it one of the most fabulous signs on the block. There’s no way anyone can accidentally miss this stop sign now, considering how tall the tree is and how obvious it is against the bare street (Reddit).


The Angkor Wat Tree

Deep in the jungle of Cambodia lies an abandoned Buddhist temple complex called Angkor Wat. According to the Guinness World Records, it’s the largest religious structure in the world. Upon visiting the temples, you’ll find numerous trees like this one that have decided to take back the temple complex and make it their own. This tree looks like it belongs to the temple, and has grown with the shape of its walls (Pinterest).


Vallone dei Mulini, Italy

In the middle of Sorrento is a gorge named the Valley of the Mills. It was named after the flour and saw mills that were once inside. In 1866, the crevice was closed off from the sea, and the humidity in the gorge rose. And it was thanks to this rise in humidity that a microclimate began, which was perfect for plant growth. The abandoned buildings crumbled and the surroundings became overgrown. Fern species like Phyllitis Scolopendrium exist in the crevice. Locals are trying to preserve the area and keep it free from human interference (BBC Earth).


The Abandoned Namibian Ghost Town

In Namibia lies a ghost town called Kolmanskop, which photographer Romain Veillon had the chance to explore. These sand-filled buildings withstood the test of time, even though nature decided to reclaim them with sand. The town was originally there for diamonds. Unfortunately, intensive mining depleted the town. Now, nearly 35,000 tourists visit the site every year. Book editors Thóra Pétursdóttir and Bjørnar Olsen wrote, “Masked objects are unveiled, inside is turned out. Collapsed walls, broken windows, and open drawers expose intimacy and privacy, recalling to light the previously hidden, forgotten, or unknown.” This is what happens when nature reclaims her territory (National Geographic).


The Reclaimed Island

This boat wreck was reclaimed by nature and turned into an island. This boat, named the SS Ayrfield, served between Newcastle and Sydney, transporting supplies to American troops out in the Pacific Ocean. It was brought to the bay in 1972 to be dismantled, but the operations ceased. The boat was left there to decay, and is now a beautiful forest of sorts, out in the middle of the open ocean (Oddity Central).


The Abandoned Chimney

This tree decided to make use of this abandoned chimney and call it its home. The users of Reddit found this discovery fascinating, and some even commented, “The wild thing is that if the bricks fell or were badly damaged, the tree would probably collapse. Trees need to be constantly pushed around by the wind to grow strong, saplings and trees grown indoors are unable to support their weight in windy conditions.” Let’s hope this chimney never collapses for the sake of nature (Reddit).


An Abandoned Tree Fort

A tree is growing out of this abandoned fort on the second floor of this house, which this person happened to discover while on an adventure. The users of Reddit find this tree fascinating, and even wrote, “Beautiful and somber- the early ruins of a people. A representation of the beginning of the human end.” The forces of nature are some of the most remarkable phenomena, as this tree grew out the window and towards the sunlight (Reddit).


An Abandoned Victorian Tree House

Located in Brooksville, Florida, is this hauntingly beautiful abandoned Victorian tree house. According to Abandoned Playgrounds, “originally part of a large complex and former nursery or business this incredibly thought out tree house is one of a kind. It has begun to deteriorate beyond repair since most of the windows were broken out and the weather has gotten in. With vaulted ceilings and decorative wallpaper, a kitchen, and bedrooms, this 3 story miniature house has it all. The trees growing around the little house have accented it mystically. It is located just at the back of the abandoned house that is near the center of the property.” You can find this property yourself if you’re in the area, as the users of Reddit have posted its exact location on Google (Reddit).


Take A Look At This Abandoned Mansion

If you wander around this abandoned mansion, you’ll find this gorgeous tree stretching high towards the ceiling. This photo sparked a lot of nostalgia in some Reddit users, who reminisce about their childhood homes. One even wrote, “My parents bought a house when I was in high school that had a vaulted ceiling and skylight with a sunken living room. Mom put a ficus about half the size of this one in a huge pot under the skylight on the entry tile. You walked under it to get to the kitchen and it spread over about a quarter of the living room. I miss that house.” If someone buys this abandoned mansion, they’ll have a free indoor garden included (Reddit).


This Abandoned Castle In Ireland

Head to Ireland and you’ll have an entire island all to yourself, with an abandoned castle overtaken by Mother Nature herself. The name of the castle is McDermott’s Castle and is located in Lough Key. It looks like something that’s been taken from a Disney Film and is roughly 10km across. Legend has it that the parents of a grieving daughter, who lost her boyfriend, are buried underneath the trees on this island (Instagram).


This Overgrown Villa In Germany

Walking through the forest in Germany will lead you to this abandoned, overgrown villa that looks like it used to be a part of a fairytale. Interestingly, the people of Reddit want to see what life was like from the beginning of this villa, commenting, “I love that places like this exist! It would be a delight to see a time-lapse from inside one of the rooms, looking out a window as the world passes by.” That is until Mother Nature took over and reclaimed the villa as a part of her forest (Reddit).


This Abandoned Greenhouse

This forgotten greenhouse was left to the forces of nature, as she slowly took back what was originally hers. In the Dutch province of Drenthe, this abandoned greenhouse sits and waits for explorers to wander around. Perhaps some elves and fairies will appear in this place that was once thriving with plants owned by humans but is now thriving with natural plants from the earth (Instagram).


An Additional Level

This tree decided to add another level to this house by growing its brick walls and into the sky. It’s the exact epitome of a tree house. Some Reddit users predict that a witch lives there since no one is truly sure how the tree situated itself on top of the roof so perfectly. It’s as if this large, leafy tree is now the king of the kingdom, overseeing all the other trees that sit just below it (Reddit).


The Hidden Hiking Sign

If you were a regular hiker, you could easily miss this sign nestled inside of this tree trunk. For some reason, Mother Nature decided that the trail didn’t need this sign anymore and decided to grow around it, concealing all but the small, important hiker symbol (Reddit).


An Abandoned Amusement Park

There’s something so eerie and fascinating about abandoned amusement parks. Questions arise, like why is it abandoned, and who were the last people to go on the rides? Photographer Veillon continued to capture the eerie essence of this amusement park in Japan. He said, “This is a perfect example of what I want to show when we say ‘nature is taking over.’ You can see ivy slowly covering the roller coaster like it is getting eaten by it. The park was destroyed [between 2016 and 2017] not long after my visit, so it makes the photograph even more iconic I think.” The amusement park doesn’t exist anymore, and he was able to capture this moment as nature slowly took over the roller coaster, until humans destroyed it (CNN).


Railroad Tracks In The Forest

In the forest of Taiwan, we see a glimpse of nature growing over old railroad tracks no longer in use. At the very least, this must have been an incredible train journey with stunning views. It’s along the Jiancing Historic Trail in the Taipingshan National Forest and is an old logging railway, sitting at 2000 meters of elevation in the clouds. Now, it’s covered in moss and looks like something from a fairytale (Flickr).


Abandoned Bridge In New Zealand

The country of New Zealand is full of forests, cliffs, fjords, and glaciers. But with all that nature, it also means it’s full of abandoned places that nature has likely taken over, like this abandoned bridge. Apparently, “the bridge was used to connect two flax mills across a river. Eventually, the mills closed, and the owner of the bridge ran it as a toll bridge for a while. One day a government minister showed up, had to pay for the bridge, and said it was unacceptable. So, the government built a replacement nearby, and dismantled the decking of the bridge in this photo to stop people using it.” The photographer did an incredible job at capturing a beautiful angle of this bridge (Reddit).


The Dilapidated Hotel

Who knows what’s truly gone on in this dilapidated hotel in Brandenburg, Germany? Captured by photographer Veillon, who spent hours searching for this spot, and many others on his list. As you can see, nature took over the hotel by growing vines and moss along the hotel’s walls and furniture, all left behind to rot (CNN).


Tree Inside of a Silo

While this person was out exploring, they stumbled upon this beautiful tree growing inside an abandoned silo. The way they angled the photo makes the tree look large and expansive, almost like it’s reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel. That silo must have been abandoned for dozens of years to allow the tree to get as tall as it is (Reddit).


The Railing Oak Tree

This oak tree didn’t care that there was a railing in the way. It decided to make its way straight through the railing and take it over as its home base. It’s quite beautiful how it managed to slither between the openings in the railing. Some Reddit users commented that it looks like a giant piece of ginger (Reddit).


Nature Wins Again

While this person was hiking in Boothbay, Maine, they discovered this tombstone that looked like it was being eaten by a tree. It looks like the tree grabbed the top of the tombstone with its trunk hands and is pulling it out of the ground. It encapsulates just how powerful nature is (Imgur).

CN Traveler

Great Train Graveyard, Bolivia

Deep in Bolivia lies one of the biggest train graveyards in the world. It’s a cemetery of abandoned, antique trains that date back to the 19th century. Even though Bolivia is mainly known for its salt flats, the train graveyard is a more unusual tourist location that truly showcases the force of nature. It was originally built to provide more transportation in the country but was abandoned after technical difficulties. The equipment was left sitting out in the desert, which has been corroded by salty wind (CN Traveler).


Moss in Portugal

In the Quinta Da Regaleira, Portugal, moss took over the walls of this gorgeous castle. It’s a 16th-century property located in Sintra, and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site within the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra.” In this park, you’ll find wells, grottos, fountains, and lakes. It’s quite a romantic property and a beautiful place to explore (Instagram).


The Desert Takes Over

This house was completely abandoned in the desert of California. It didn’t take long for the desert to completely take over and reclaim it as its own. That house, once filled with memories, is buried alive. Some Reddit users worked together to try and pinpoint the exact location of this house, and they wrote it’s “Between Newberry Springs on the 10 and “Harvard” on the 15. By the old produce inspection point.” If you’re looking for an adventure, this house is waiting for you (Reddit).


Radioactive Cars

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, these cars are slowly being taken over and eaten alive by nature. The photographer went on an entire tour of the abandoned city, after the disaster in 2011. These cars were left just as they were, and from an aerial view, you can very clearly see how nature is taking over what was once her (Podniesinksi).

CN Traveler

Nicosia International Airport, Cyprus

The Nicosia International Airport in Cyprus was once a busy, successful airport with many departing and arriving flights. But in 1974, it was completely abandoned. Since then, rust has taken over the airplanes, and many birds have made the airport their home. The check-in counters and boarding areas are still there, though it’s merely a skeleton of what it once was (CN Traveler).


The Abandoned Synagogue

In Romania, this abandoned synagogue sits and waits for adventurers to come and wander along its halls and admire its stained glass windows. This is a remarkable find for the photographer, who got to sit and see the power of nature reclaiming what’s hers, and it seems like several graffiti artists have also decided to reclaim the synagogue’s walls (Instagram).

CN Traveler

Haludovo Palace Hotel, Croatia

If you head to one of the islands in Croatia, you might come across a spectacular abandoned hotel in a state of disrepair. Nature decided to make this its permanent home. According to CN Traveler, “The hotel complex was built on the island of Krk in 1971, in a style typical of Communist-era architecture (the asymmetrical concrete, the brutally modern facades) and spent a few golden decades hosting actors and world leaders visiting former Yugoslavia. When war hit in the 1990s, tourism dwindled, and the hotel hosted its last guests in 2001 before closing its doors for good.” But it’s still there for you to explore its saunas, casinos, and tennis courts in the Croatian sunshine (CN Traveler).


The Nature Ship

Nature decided to reclaim the roof of this ship, called “Ms Heimliche Liebe.” It nearly blends into the nearby forest, and if you couldn’t see the walls of the ship, you wouldn’t even know it was there. All in all, it’s a mossy ship that’s ready for disembarkation. One Reddit user even commented, “Could you imagine “living off the land,” but the land is also traveling with you across the open ocean for nights and days, in solitude?” You could grow your vegetables on your mobile rooftop garden (Reddit).

CN Traveler

The Chicken Church, Indonesia

If you’re ever exploring Indonesia, you might stumble upon this church. It’s just as confusing as it is beautiful. It’s called Gereja Ayam, which is also known as the Chicken Church. According to CN Traveler, “The church opened its doors in the 1990s, serving as both a rehab center and place of worship for all religions; unfortunately, construction costs soon became too high and the project—and building—were abandoned in 2000.” Now, it’s a tourist destination, where people can gawk at the murals, incredible views, and small cafe (CN Traveler).


The Railing Tree

Once this tree realized it couldn’t move the railing, it decided to become a part of it. It strategically grew around the railing, to the point where it looks like a gorgeous piece of art intertwined with the railing. Or, perhaps the tree was hungry and wanted to eat the railing. Either way, it’s there to stay (Reddit).


This Chinese Fishing Village

In the 1990s, this Chinese fishing village was completely abandoned in Houtouwan, China. It was once home to 2,000 fishermen, but everyone left the island when problems with education and food were too much to handle. Now, you can go see the abandoned village and wander around the homes that nature now occupies (Douban).

CN Traveler

City Methodist Church, Indiana

As the birthplace of Michael Jackson, Indiana is also the birthplace of one of the most beautiful abandoned churches in the country. This church was originally built in 1926 with donation money. As the population dwindled, the church was shut down in 1975. The church is still just as beautiful, if not more beautiful as it was all those years ago. It’s also a famous spot for film directions like A Nightmare on Elm Street (CN Traveler).


The Chateau de la Mothe-Chandeliers

This is a deserted French castle that dates back to the 13th century. Photographer Romain Veillon went on an adventure to find the castle, which has since been reclaimed by Mother Nature. According to Atlas Obscura, “By the 18th century, the castle had fallen into a state of disrepair. In the 1870s, Baron Edgard Lejeune rebuilt it in a neo-Gothic style and was known to throw lavish parties at the estate.” A fire destroyed most of the interior, though the exterior remains (Atlas Obscura).

CN Traveler

A Haunting Power Plant, Belgium

This power plant was originally built in 1921 and was once one of the largest coal-burning power plants in Belgium. According to CN Traveler, “its massive cooling tower was able to cool down 480,000 gallons of water per minute in its heyday. But with great power comes great pollution, and this particular plant was responsible for 10 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the entire country.” Because of this, Greenpeace protested and eventually shut down the site in 2007. While it’s inoperable, it shows the power of nature to take over (CN Traveler).


The Farmhouse and The Tree

This abandoned farmhouse has a tree growing out of the chimney. It’s as if it’s the captain of the house, ready to take a look at every passerby to see who’s arriving on their property. The Reddit users are trying to guess where this farmhouse might be, with some comments reading as “The rain-soaked road and blue skies, slate roof and soulless stipple plaster job on the house, wooden telegraph poles, barren landscape… see where I’m coming from though, right? I guess you find such a scene anywhere in Britain or Ireland.” Wherever it is, nature decided to take ownership of that farmhouse (Reddit).


Pavement Pattern Roots

These roots grow according to the pattern of the pavement. They decided to swirl around the bricks and make their pattern, completely taking over the original design. The force of nature always wins, as the snaking vines encapsulate the bricks on the ground (Reddit).

BBC Earth

Spreepark, Germany

This abandoned theme park feels more like a horror story than anything else. It closed down in 2001, and since then, the plants have gotten to work making it their kingdom. The park dates back to 1969, but it didn’t take long to become a part of the forest after it shut down. The owners of Spreepark hope to turn it into something that showcases ecological preservation (BBC Earth).


This 400-Year-Old Monastery

Adorned with neo-Gothic architecture, this monastery dates back to the 16th century. It was not only a place of worship, but a place to treat the villager’s ailments. It closed sometime during the 1990s, and it was left there to decay. Mother Nature slowly took back the walls, which are now bearing witness to the passage of time. Vines and leaves managed to sprout and grow in every nook and cranny of this monastery, leaving no space behind (Reddit).

CN Traveler

Bodie, California

This place in California was once home to 10,000 people. It was a booming spot in the 1870s and 1880s, when gold was popular and surrounded the Mono Lake nearby. But now, it’s a historic park, where some places are in a permanent state of “arrested decay.” This means tables still with place settings, and shops still completely stocked with supplies, and it looks exactly as it did all those years ago, as if it’s frozen in time and simply rusted over. The grass has grown over many of the parts of the city, and animals now call some areas their home (CN Traveler).