Photo exploration of an abandoned Slovenian nitrogen factory.
As an engineer I’m obviously fascinated with technology and industrial environments, which consequently also means that I love poking my nose into abandoned buildings. The other day my friend and I decided to check out an abandoned nitrogen factory complex after work, so here are some photos for all of you decay lovers out there, although I must stress that this is by no means a tourist attraction and I don’t recommend a visit unless you know someone Slovenian.
The factory at Ruše used to be a regional success story back in its day, but now the whole place is quite literally falling apart and full of junk, which was perfect for us and I know that some other proper urban photographers have also been there before. Although parts of the industrial complex are still in use and some companies have even built new buildings, the golden era of Ruše is unfortunately long gone and no one particularly cares whether you’re trampling around or not, as long as its after hours.
The story of Ruše dates back to World War 1, when the factory was first built by Russian and Italian prisoners to produce carbide for military purposes. After the war the Ruše factory also produced oxygen and cyanide and later became part of the German industry during the Second World War, expanding its production to ferrochromium as well.
In Yugoslavia the factory produced mostly agricultural fertilisers and rebranded itself as the Ruše Nitrogen Factory, which became an important player in the local economy and the Yugoslavian industry in general. The company employed up to 2000 workers at the top of its prime and was considered quite successful until 1991, when Yugoslavia collapsed after the death of its leader and Ruše became part of the newly independent Slovenia. After that it all went downhill and eventually most of the companies, which had sprouted from the Ruše Nitrogen Factory concern, became insolvent and the industrial complex at Ruše has been left to die a slow and messy death.
Nowadays the factory complex is a massive scar on the land and I’d rather not even think about the pollution it will left behind, but at least for now the industrial area is still active and serves a purpose.
Impressions of Ruše
When my friend and I arrived there in the evening, the workday was already over, but the main doors were wide open and the place was almost empty except for a few cars. Although industrial areas are generally considered a public place unless there’s a sign declaring otherwise, we had planned to ask for permission to take some photos, if we’d encountered any kind of security or official personnel. However, aside from a very bored man in the newer part of the complex, the place was a total ghost town. We later realised that there was a concert in one of the smaller buildings, which had been converted into a local club, so I guess we either got very lucky or the doors are always open and they really don’t care.
Behind the old school socialist management buildings at the entrance lies a spacious courtyard full of various industrial buildings and warehouses – some of them are company owned and feature “no entry for the unemployed signs”, while others are beyond saving and silently crumbling away. Obviously we weren’t particularly interested in the newer part of the complex and we could hear some people were still at work there, so you won’t see those parts in the photos.
We also made sure to respect the “entry forbidden” signs wherever we found them, but luckily there weren’t many in the old abandoned sections and we could see plenty through the windows and cracks of the closed buildings. So, we wandered around for a while, making sure we didn’t inhale much of the fine grey dust covering the rubble or walk under the dangerous parts, like the lovely reinforced concrete hanging by a thread in the video above, and we even got a very nice sunset for our troubles.
All in all it was an abandoned paradise and it still baffles me that such decaying buildings, as well as a whole junkyard, are located right in the middle in an active industrial area. Some of the collapsing buildings have even been bricked up for additional support and are used as housing halls for trucks and excavators, but I guess the people who work there know what they’re doing, right?
Anyway, I hope you liked the photos and let me know if you’ve got any interesting locations like this in your country in the comments below. 🙂 Before I wrap this post up though: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, exploring abandoned buildings is not about breaking and entering or damaging and taking property. I don’t encourage or condone people sneaking into secure buildings without permission and I always make sure to do it as safely as possible, so come prepared, leave only footsteps behind and ask for permission where applicable. Happy photo hunting!
The details of Ruše
Some photos by P. Jare.