German photographer Michael Schwan's ongoing series The Beauty of Decay chronicles his travels across Europe capturing abandoned buildings in stunning states of disintegration. This exclusive gallery collects some of this artist's most spectacular shots of nature reclaiming these formerly majestic spaces.

Schwan, born in 1988, always held a passion for photography but initially trained in engineering with a focus on materials science. This interest in the fundamental properties of materials certainly manifested in a fascination with the aesthetics of decay.

Over the last few years, Schwan has travelled across Europe visiting lost and forgotten architectural sites closely studying the slow and progressive disintegration of abandoned places. From a decomposing castle in Poland, to a five-star hotel in Portugal left in a deteriorating state of disrepair, Schwan's eye manages to catch the profound beauty in materials as they waste away.

"Most people in the city rush around and they have no time to look back into the past," Schwan writes. "I want to remind them of that history. Whether filled with rich decorative elements or by spartan furniture, the elements left speak to the former glory of these abandoned spaces."

This particular gallery of images shared with New Atlas by Schwan explores more specifically the encroachment of nature back into the abandoned spaces. Years after humans have shunned these bars and ballrooms, nature always seems to find a way to reclaim its dominance. Feeling like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, these beautiful abandoned locations are a reminder that nature may be waiting for us to pass so it can assert its dominance over the environment once again.

Take a look through our beauty of decay gallery here.

Many of these images are available to buy in large limited edition prints from Michael Schwan's website.

View gallery - 18 images