Urban exploration, or more commonly “urban exploration”, is an activity that is being heard more and more, and has experienced a real “boom” in recent years. Amateurs of photographs, videos, adrenaline and mystical atmospheres or simple ghost hunters infiltrate abandoned places where time has frozen and nature has regained its rights.
Practice undoubtedly the best known and most representative of the activity. But also, one of the most risky, both physically and legally. Many poisonous and hazardous materials can be found on the affected sites. These are, for the most part, private sites where penetration is strictly forbidden: sanatoriums, manors, castles, disused factories …
The motivation of the cataphiles lies in the inspection of the old underground quarries. The catacombs of Paris are a very good example. The explorers come there seeking solitude, the pleasure of the forbidden or even a historical interest too.
Those type of explorers climb the roofs of all kinds : administrative buildings (la Défense), residences, cathedrals, car parks… The expeditions are carried out at night most of the time. The atmosphere that it provides on the metropolises is conducive to this dangerous practice.
- Active buildings
This practice concerns all urbexers who want to penetrate a place in activity prohibited to the public. The building sites, museums, monuments are the perfect cities.
- Military spots
Old bunkers, abandoned military sites, forts …
- Train spots
Subways, trains, disused stations, railway tunnels …
Urbexers are a relatively closed community. A watchword prevails in this environment : do not reveal anything about the geolocation of places and keep them secret in order to preserve them from any degradation and vandalism. Abandoned places attract explorers of all kinds : photographers or videographers but also graffiti artists, squatters … Especially since with the Internet, information circulates very quickly and spreads like wildfire on social networks. With Facebook, dozens of groups dedicated to urbex are created and all do not necessarily preserve the geolocation secret. Now, some places are now known to the general public. One can easily find their location on the web.
Safety and legality
Be careful though, this activity does not remain risk free. Indeed, most of the places remain prohibited to the public and only engage the responsibility of those who explore them. Zero danger does not exist. Urban exploration as varied as it is is not without risk. The latter are of several types : the fall of the explorer, collapse … Risks linked to water (sudden flooding of a duct), to gases (absence of oxygen, presence of toxic gases or asbestos), explosion… Possible legal risks are also to be taken into account in this mostly illegal activity. Even if they are rare, urbexers may be subject to prosecution if complaints following penetration into the property of others are proved and a procedure is initiated. To do this, you need a flagrant offense of course. Security guard on a supervised sit for example.
Thriving in recent years, but all that would suit you to a very particular target of enthusiasts, the reasons that lead to the urban exploration are diverse and multiple. They can be artistic, historical and sensational. This activity remains very risky and some accidents are to be deplored. Several works are published on this secret activity. Silencio by Thomas Jorion, Urbex : 50 secret and abandoned places in France by Timothy Hannem.