Humans have always been driven by curiosity and fed by an innate need to explore. There is something about old, abandoned places which has always fascinated us in our quest for discovery. Whether it’s about the history behind them, about the stories that are hidden beneath all the dust, rust and concrete pieces, giving each place a special aura of nostalgia or it’s about the hauntingly beauty of forgotten spaces surrendering in front of the impressive strength of nature, we can’t help but be mesmerized by these mysterious and beautiful abandoned places around the world.

Aurélien Villette, a French photographer, explores and documents a variety of abandoned places — from the sacred to the industrial — for his Spirit of Place project, a series of beautiful pictures that capture the heartbreaking former glory embedded in old churches, opera halls, theaters and other spaces.

Check out some photos from the set below to see how Aurélien Villette‘s Spirit of Place brings the spirit and pathos the place once embodied back to life and pick up the book over on teNeues for $75.

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 1

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 2

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 3

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 4

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 5

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 6

Aurélien Villette's Spirit of Place 7

Aurélien Villette Captures the Beauty of Abandoned Places 8

Aurélien Villette Captures the Beauty of Abandoned Places 9

Aurélien Villette Captures the Beauty of Abandoned Places 10