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Five Old and Abandoned Locations That Have Been Repurposed

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Luis Davilla / Cover / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Luis Davilla / Cover / Getty Images

Over time, some beautiful works of architecture are abandoned, forgotten about, or even slated for demolition. Some buildings, however, are just too remarkable to lose to history. These five buildings are perfect examples of old buildings serving new purposes while still maintaining their original beauty.

Musee d’Orsay

Aerial view of Musee d'Orsay
View from above of the Hall of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France, circa June 1991. (Photo Credit: Barbara Alper / Getty Images)
Musee d'Orsay when it was a train station
Inside of the station of Orleans, Orsay’s quay, in the beginning of 20th century. (Photo Credit: LL / Roger Viollet / Getty Images)
Outside entrance of Musee d'Orsay
General view of the Orsay Museum from outside of the historic building. (Photo Credit: Edward Berthelot / Getty Images)

What originally was built as a train station to help bring in visitors for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, France, eventually was transformed into something else entirely. Built by architects Victor Laloux, Lucien Magne, and Émile Bénard, the Gare d’Orsay was adorned with many modern features that made traveling through the station much easier, like luggage ramps and elevators.

As rail technology advanced, the station could no longer accommodate the larger electric trains that were taking the place of older trains. The station was closed in 1939. After a short period during the Second World War when the station was again put to use, it was altogether abandoned. By the 1970s, restoration began on the station and it became an official historic monument in 1978, with a museum opening in 1986.

Kaos Temple

The colorful interior of the Kaos Temple skate park
Skateboarders practice at the Kaos Temple skatepark in the northern Spanish village of Llanera in the Asturias region on December 26, 2015. The skatepark is a former church, turned into a place of pilgrimage for lovers of skate culture by the Church Brigade collective. Artist Okuda San Miguel is responsible for the colorful murals. (Photo Credit: CESAR MANSO / AFP / Getty Images)
A Spanish church's exterior photographed as dusk
Picture shows the Kaos Temple skatepark in the northern Spanish village of Llanera in the Asturias region on December 26, 2015. (Photo Credit: CESAR MANSO / AFP / Getty Images)
Rainbow murals painted on the ceiling of the Kaos Temple skate park
Picture shows mural paintings on the arched ceiling of the Kaos Temple skatepark in the northern Spanish village of Llanera in the Asturias region on December 26, 2015. (Photo Credit: CESAR MANSO / AFP / Getty Images)

Formerly known as the church of Santa Barbara in Llanera, Asturias, constructed in 1912, the building was abandoned for years and had fallen into disrepair. With its crumbling walls, it seemed like a lost cause However, a group of people who wanted to restore it to its former glory set up fundraising efforts. They worked to convert the church into something brand new.

From the outside, the structure fits in with the architecture commonly seen throughout Spain, but once inside, the building comes alive with bright, geometric murals created by Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel. The interior was transformed from a church to an indoor skate park, now often referred to as the ‘Sistine Chapel’ of skateboarding.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid

A theatre turned bookstore
View of the “El Ateneo Grand Splendid” bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 9, 2019. (Photo Credit: RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP / Getty Images)
The front sign of El Ateneo
Picture taken on September, 2007, showing the marquise of El Ateneo bookstore, in the Barrio Norte neighborhood in Buenos Aires. (Photo Credit: DANIEL GARCIA / AFP / Getty Images)
An old cinema with bookcases inside
El Ateneo presently occupies the building that belonged to the old performing arts theater, then the Grand Splendid Cinema, built in 1919. (Photo Credit: DANIEL GARCIA / AFP / Getty Images)

When Teatro Gran Splendid was first built in 1919, it was a grand theater for the performing arts, and many tango legends performed here. Adorned with beautiful balconies, frescoed ceilings, and plush red stage curtains, it was a shining star of architects Peró and Torres Armengol’s careers.

In 1929, the theater was converted into a cinema and was the first in Buenos Aires, Argentina to show a sound film. However, its use as a cinema was short-lived, and the building was eventually slated for demolition. At the cost of $3 million ARS, architect Fernando Manzone oversaw the theater’s transition into the El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore and music shop. The space still showcases those beautiful features from its early days.

Selexyz Dominicanen

Storied bookcases inside a church chapel with domed roof
Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore sits inside the former Dominican church in Maastricht. (Photo Credit: Dünzl / ullstein bild / Getty Images)
People sitting on stools beside bookcases in a domed hallway
The Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore now welcomes visitors to basque in the beauty of the cathedral while also enjoying a good book. (Photo Credit: Dünzl / ullstein bild / Getty Images)
People looking at books on a shelf inside a church with domed roof
Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore was left as a storage unit following its deconsecration by Napoleon Bonaparte. (Photo Credit: Dünzl / ullstein bild / Getty Images)

Located in the Netherlands, the Selexyz Dominicanen was built over 700 years ago as a Catholic church. During Napoleon Bonaparte‘s rampage during the French Revolution, he saw the large, tall building as the perfect location to store equipment and personnel. The deconsecrated church was eventually abandoned when Napoleon was done with it.

Throughout the centuries, the building remained in use as a storage warehouse, an archival center, and in more recent years, bicycles. In 2005, the building was repurposed as a three-story bookstore that wows visitors with its beautiful interiors and original architecture.

Zeitz Museum

Outside the Zeitz Museum
The Zeitz MOCAA museum at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit: Marc Hoberman / Hoberman Collection / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)
Looking up a spiral staircase
View upwards of spiral staircase at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit: View Pictures / Hufton+Crow / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)
Long, rounded walls inside the Zeitz Museum
Central atrium with concrete tubes exposing structure at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo Credit: View Pictures / Hufton+Crow / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, initially built in 1921, once served as the industrial heart of the area. Originally a complex of 56 silos and an elevator, the silos were then the tallest buildings in Africa. Their significance to the city made it imperative to preserve them.

It was decided that the complex would become a museum, and the architects transformed the space in a way that pays homage to its original significance. The team kept a large portion of the building’s exterior in its original form and carved out the interior in the shape of an enlarged grain of corn, representing the building’s original purpose.

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These remarkable buildings are just a few examples of architecture that is far too beautiful to tear down.