Thursday 13 January 2022

Read in 2022 - 1: Lost Places in der Region Stuttgart

This was a book I had explicitly named when asked what I wanted for Christmas. I had come across it in an article of our local paper and thought it was probably going to be very much my kind of book.

Lost Places in der Region Stuttgart by Benjamin Seyfang is not so much a book to read, but one to browse for its pictures and let imaginagion do the rest.

Some of you know me well enough to recall that I have a "thing" for what are generally known as lost places, although I hesitate to call them that. Those places are not lost - they are exactly where they have always been. But they are usually lost to their former use, and sometimes their existence has been forgotten, making them lost to memory as well. Therefore, I shall stick with the term generally used, even though I do not fully agree with it. (In German, the English term is used as well.)

The area where I live has Stuttgart as its capital and centre, and so I am familiar with some of the towns and places in the region, not just my own town of Ludwigsburg.

The author calls himself an Urban Explorer and has, like me, a long-going fascination for abandoned houses, industrial ruins and so on. In the foreword of this book, he states the basic rule everyone should observe when visiting such places: Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but foot prints.

He is 20 years younger than I and has been photographing lost places around the world for 10 years now, whenever his day job allows.

Often, the places he visits are not easily accessible. If possible, he gets special permission of whoever is the current owner or custodian. Some of the photos come with only a vaguely named location, because the places are hidden and should remain so in order to protect them from further vandalism and damage. Others are well known and their location is clearly stated.

I sat down with this book in my favourite reading spot (my yellow armchair, as seen here) one evening after work this week and went through it page by page. With one of the "secret" places, I am pretty sure I know where it is. Another one is indeed just outside my hometown, a place I have been to myself a few times in the past. 

The most touching ones for me are the photographs of inside a house where the owner, an elderly lady who had not changed anything since the 1970s, was taken to hospital and died there. After her death, someone at the hospital packed her belongings into her bags and deposited the bags just inside the front door, where they still are. The living room is exactly as it was left, with the paper still on the table and the remote control still on the settee. A small stuffed panda sits on the settee's back rest, smiling.


  1. And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    Something to muse upon in your yellow armchair.
    Yet how can we muse upon the past when it is past, destroyed, utterly changed?

    As an urban explorer you may enjoy the YouTube films of Iain Sinclair such as *Secrets of the City* and *The Last London* : I have four or five of Sinclair's book.
    An old friend, James Campbell, profiled Iain Sinclair for The Guardian (online):#

    *Iain Sinclair: I take a walk every morning ...*
    1 November 2013.
    I shall order a copy of Lost Places in Stuttgart.
    Read online The Manchester Evening News:
    *Manchester's Lost Restaurants - Kardomah Cafe, Meng & Ecker and more.*
    *The Rise and Fall of Kardomah.*

    Abandoned houses and industrial ruins engage me too; and I have memories of The Kardomah and grand coffee houses, long gone, which I visited as a teenager, with a Penguin paperback in my pocket.

    1. Thank you for telling me about Sinclair, I shall definitely look him and his work up.
      I don't know Manchester very well; usually, I just pass through on my way to or from the airport.
      One summer at the end of our Yorkshire holiday, my sister and I booked into a hotel near the airport to have more time for the city. We spent an afternoon walking around and found it to be a place deserving much more of our time, but we didn't have that, as our flight home went the next morning.

  2. Sounds interesting - especially when you do know the places/area.

    1. Yes, that was what made me want this particular book.

  3. That really does sound interesting! Did you get several books for Christmas? I've just finished my third book since then, my book club's selection for January. I was unimpressed, but that's just how it goes! :) The two books my friend Martina gave me were very good, and we've decided to start a Christmas tradition of exchanged book gifts. That makes me so happy!

    1. It sounds a very good new Christmas tradition for you and Martina!
      I got two books for Christmas, the other one was a surprise and very much what I would have chosen for myself, too, had I known about it. I am currently reading it (non-fiction) and the review will of course appear on my blog eventually.

  4. Totally fascinating subject material. Abandoned buildings are simply magnificent.

    1. They are, aren't they! Not that I've personally been inside all that many (not counting "proper" ruins, such as Fountains Abbey).