A majestic castle in northern Italy with ornate frescoes, winding staircases, expansive ballrooms with gilded ceilings, and wall murals seemingly painted with the painstaking detail of an artist with the vision of Michelangelo. This is a place where you would imagine the aristocrats of the Renaissance spent their days living in the lap of luxury. But now it's covered in thick layers of dust, paint chipping off the walls and rust dulling the vibrant colors that once popped in every room. It's become a ghost of its former self, left to rot in forgotten memories. And there are many more palaces just like it, which suffered the same fate.
Places like this are also where photographer Thomas Jorion finds beauty resting among the ruins. Jorion traveled across Italy, Switzerland and Germany, snapping shots of some of Europe's abandoned castles and mansions -- the remnants of the old world of European nobility. (He's also gone to other parts of the world, including the U.S., and taken photos of other beautiful structures that have fallen into decay, such as a Detroit church shown above.) He took the pictures as part of his jaw-dropping photo series called "Forgotten Palaces." Some of the grand estates were abandoned when economic calamity struck; others were vacated because of the threat of landslides or migration, according to the Daily Mail. One, though, is rather curious: The family left their prized home because of the construction of a nuclear base nearby, writes the blog, Messy Nessy Chic.
Jorion has been photographing abandoned spaces since an early age. His work intends to explore "the built environment in a state of entropy, inviting viewers to reflect on the relationship between the material and the temporal," his biography states. See some of his most awe-inspiring shots of abandoned castles in the gallery below, and view much more of his work on his website.
And by the way, we have plenty of evidence stateside of our own forgotten past in the form of astounding abandoned homes. See the sad remnants littering the neighborhoods of what used to be one of America's most bustling towns: Detroit.
Correction: Not all of these photos were taken in Europe. Some are from the U.S., such as the photo at the top of this article, which shows a decaying church in Detroit.
Athens Olympics Stadium in Decay (PHOTOS)
Astrodome, World's '8th Wonder,' Lies Abandoned (PHOTOS)
More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
Find homes for sale in your area.
Find foreclosures in your area.
Find homes for rent in your area.
Follow us on Twitter at @AOLRealEstate, or connect with AOL Real Estate on Facebookand Pinterest.