An autumn urbex adventure at the Sanatorium du Basil, Belgium
Updated: Jul 5, 2022
I'm taking a break from posting about our summer in America to share what I've been up to more recently! Last weekend I travelled to Belgium with my parents for a "Zombie Hash" – a fun run through an abandoned building where we were chased by "zombies." The location for this year's run was the Borgoumont Sanatorium, a huge abandoned sanatorium in the Belgian Ardennes. Luckily there was plenty of time to explore the building the following day and in this post, I will share some of the photos I captured while we explored.
What is urbex?
Urbex (or urban exploration) is the exploration of abandoned or derelict structures. My dad and I started exploring abandoned buildings to take pictures when I was a teenager, and since then it's been a joint hobby of ours. Over the years, we've visited some amazing places, including abandoned factories, hotels and even an abandoned power plant's cooling tower (with many of these adventures in Belgium). Since going away to university in the UK, I haven't had many opportunities to go urbexing, so I was excited about our trip down to Belgium to visit the sanatorium. If you do decide to go urbexing, take the necessary precautions to be safe and remember the important rule: "take only photographs and leave only footprints."
The Borgoumont Sanatorium
According to Wikipedia, the Borgoumont Sanatorium (also known now as the Sanatorium du Basil) was built as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early 1900s. It was operational from 1903 to 1947, apparently hiding Jews amongst the TB patients during WWII. It was later converted into a rehabilitation centre and a nursing home before being used as a reception centre for asylum seekers. The building was abandoned in 2013 and has since fallen into considerable decay.
The aerial photo on the left I found here, and the one on the right, I took with my drone.
It's really cool seeing old pictures of the Sanatorium on the internet, dating back from when it was still in operation as a sanatorium, to more recent photos of when it had just been abandoned. It's wild to see how quickly the building fell apart, to the destroyed state we found it in when we visited. Apparently the building is for sale for 1.5 million euros, so if you're looking for a mountain mansion that needs a little renovation (aka tearing the whole place down and starting over), this could be the place!
Now, the abandoned sanatorium is very easy to access by car and, unlike many urbex locations, nobody seems to care that people are exploring the site. As a result, there were many other people while we were there – the condition of the building reflects its status as an urbex destination over the last few years. Despite that, it was still fun wandering around the building's maze of corridors and staircases, taking pictures and trying not to get completely lost. The inside of the building was not incredibly remarkable, which is why many of the photos here are of the beautiful autumn colours we could see outside the broken windows. I hope you enjoy these photos!
Having scouted out some locations the previous day, I took some self-portraits on the top floor before we began to make our way back downstairs. This is when I *may* have got a bit overly ambitious with my drone...After successfully flying through a broken window out of the building, I thought I could manage to fly it back into the building. Turns out I was wrong. I crashed the drone into the side of the window and it fell onto the windowsill where it span out of control for about 30 seconds. I was shocked the whole drone wasn't in pieces after that debacle, but it appears that only the propellors were damaged. I'm keeping my fingers crossed she can be saved and flown again soon!
After the drone drama, I was emotionally drained and ready to go home. I'm already looking forward to our next urbex adventure!