What is Urban Exploration
Urban Exploration has grown in popularity all over the world. It can go by many names, Urbex, Urban Spelunking, UE, Infiltration, and more, but it all comes down to the same ideal. It’s the exploration of abandoned structures or ruins often unseen by the public. For most Urban Explorers, the thrill of exploring long-forgotten places goes hand in hand with their love or commitment to photography and documenting these locations long abandoned. Many lost locations yearn to be explored with history yet to be revealed, and Urban Exploration allows people to uncover mysteries and enjoy the beauty in the deserted.
There’s a lot that goes with urban exploration, including laws, gear, locations, and safety. Jumping into it involves a lot of research and preparation. What exactly is urban exploration, and what does it involve?
What is Urban Exploration?
Urban exploration can take you to many kinds of places to explore, enjoy and document through photography or videography. It’s not a typical way people go about exploring or sightseeing. Urban exploring is more hands-on and in-depth. There’s a lot of beauty to be found in the decaying buildings and how nature has taken over these structures, buildings, and other artificial equipment left behind. The photography that comes out of these places can be hauntingly beautiful. Some of the more popular places people explore include warehouses, hospitals, amusement parks, schools, churches, and more. Each location tells its own story and is in its own state of decay. It is all about examining and documenting the stories after these structures were left behind and piecing them together through beautiful images.
When exploring these locations, true urban explorers know how important it is to leave things and disturb as little of the environment as possible. The goal is to ensure everything brought into the area is carried out as well. Although people who may not have an understanding of urban exploring accuse explorers of behaving poorly, the intent is never to visit these abandoned buildings to vandalize, steal, or enter into nefarious activities. Urban explorers visit to enjoy and appreciate the beauty in the locations that were teaming with life and activity at one point in history.
Finding Places to Explore and How to Prepare
Because many of the locations that draw in urban explorers are pretty hidden, you’d be surprised to know that they are relatively easy to locate. The internet is an expansive place with information on just about any topic, and finding a location is sometimes as easy as a search on Google Maps. Others require more research and investigation by reaching to the locals in the areas or joining urban exploration communities online. The urbex community does guard these locations and can be hesitant to share. The communities’ goals are to protect the areas from being destroyed.
Each location requires a little research on abandoned places to check to see if there are owners and if they are really abandoned. If the location is owned, it’s in the best interest to ask permission and assure the owners you are there to document and not to disturb. With good intentions and communication, it’s easy to gain entrance in a lot of these places.
Urban exploring is very similar to preparing for a hike in nature. You are wandering away from civilization and heading out into unknown territory. You need to be sure you are prepared with the proper gear to ensure you are never lost without supplies, and if any injuries occur, you can be well prepared. You have to remember that every location has its own risks.
The Dangers of Urban Exploring
Urban exploration is an adventure and is a lot of fun for enthusiasts, but it can also be dangerous for those who are unprepared. There are a lot of things to consider before you go out to certain locations. You have to be prepared to face external dangers such as unstable buildings and construction, toxins and chemicals, stray live wires. Not to mention the people who can sometimes inhabit or hang out that can potentially turn violent. Always be prepared and willing to walk away when something is too dangerous or seems off. Here is a page on Urban exploring safety tips that we put together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it legal?
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of urban exploration. There are a lot of places that are typically off-limits. Many of these places have been long forgotten, and most people do not care or even notice when the exploration is happening. Some places have signs posted as no trespassing, and for many, the risk is worth the reward, and there are images that exist that prove it. Always check local laws before you decide to go onto someone else’s property. Take note that in some areas, you might see purple spray paint. These purple markings are equivalent to no trespassing signs.
What kind of equipment is needed for urban exploration?
When you go urban exploring, you’ll need proper clothing, lighting for darker locations, medical masks for protection, and at least a first aid kit. There can be a lot more you can bring and be prepared for, but these are the basics. You can get more information about the gear or equipment to take when going urban exploring.
What kind of locations are great for Urban Exploration?
All over the world, some locations have been abandoned for a myriad of reasons, and many are left open to the possibilities of exploration. Buildings such as amusement parks, abandoned factories, hospitals, cottages, and more are the perfect spots to pack up a camera and document these eerie yet beautiful locations.
Are there rules or a code to follow?
Urban explorers are dedicated to protecting the locations they visit. You will often hear people say things like, “take only photos, leave only footprints.” This means you are to only document and never steal any part of the location, and you never want to leave trash behind. There is no vandalism or damage done to any of these locations.
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