The abandoned halls of the Ganz Danubius Shipyard and Crane Factory in Budapest are the haunting remains of a once-flourishing industry established more than an hundred years ago in the Austro-Hungarian empire.
During its long and complicated history, hundreds of boats and ships were designed, built, repaired and modernised here, on a small peninsula in the river Danube.
The company had started to build destroyers, submarines, torpedo boats, mine layers and cruisers for the Imperial Navy before the World War I. The dreadnought Szent István, one of the largest warships in Europe, was launched on the 17th of January 1914 from this very facility. The Ganz Danubius Shipyard supplied the machinery for the cruiser Novara. Several U-Boats were also laid down, or completed here.
After the two world wars, the shipyard continued to produce civilian ships — river cruisers, ocean liners, cargo ships, barges, tugboats and floating cranes — inside these historied brick walls, and two more assembly halls were constructed in order to increase the shipbuilding capacity. After the the collapse of the socialist political and economy system in 1989, the shipyard started agonizing, and during the last two decades it has became a poorly guarded industrial skeleton. The owners have offered it for sale or rent for years.
Not long ago, after a few days of heavy rain, I entered the century-old factory. Large ponds on the floor, dripping water from the roof, and rays of sun striking through the broken windows created a magical environment among the rusty iron pillars.
Here are the photos I took there, so you can see what I mean.
For some historical context here are a few rare archival images from the collection of Fortepan:
Aerial view of the building in 1967:
Aerial view of the building, with two new assembly halls, in 1984:
A barge under construction, 1984:
The new and the old halls in 1984:
Inside the old assembly hall in 1984:
A then and now comparison:
Photos: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo, archive photos: Fortepan