All Equally in Gloom

Inside the ruins at the base of the Thirteen Levels.

One day in May I returned to the magnificent ruins of the Thirteen Levels 十三層遺址, a long-abandoned mining complex in Ruìfāng 瑞芳 in northern Taiwan. It was a gloomy, overcast day, and it began to drizzle as soon as my urban exploration partner and I stepped out of the car. Not wanting to waste the trip we bundled up as best we could and followed the beaten trail through the overgrowth to the base of the mountainside.

After navigating the first of the challenges to enter the site—which involve jumping over a broken staircase and scrambling up a jury-rigged ladder—we gained access to several of the bottommost buildings, including one that I have nicknamed “the cathedral” for whatever reason. This building, pictured above, has collapsed in on itself, and the interior is now scattered with rubble and debris. I have not yet found an entrance, though there are gaping holes in the back wall through which a photograph such as this one may be captured.

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