One of the most intriguing YouTube channels I watch is the “Bros of Decay.” Ramrodded by two brothers from Belgium — Lesley and Jordy — this crew of digital creators explores abandoned castles, mansions, villas and châteaus throughout Europe.
These are not small abandoned farms one sees throughout Europe but rather significant buildings built by the wealthy. The aspect that is mind blowing is just how much valuable property, fixtures, rare antiques and furniture was just left behind as these buildings were overtaken by the elements. There are hundreds of tours on their channel and I have barely scratched the surface in watching them. All photos below are sourced from “Bros of Decay.”
Somehow the brothers have located buildings that are decaying but have not been vandalized and plastered with graffiti. This is a mystery to me, but they are careful not to reveal exact locations. Their methods of reconnaissance — such as drones — is not revealed. And no one in the media, independent nor mainstream, has interviewed them — at least that I can locate in an open-source search.
In the videos themselves, you will see them trying to access the sites and will make comments about overgrown roads and paths. They rarely just drive right up, nor do they reveal navigation landmarks.
Jeff Chapman, who authored “Infiltration,” writes that genuine explorers “never vandalize, steal or damage anything.” The thrill comes from “discovery and a few nice pictures.” The Bros produce far more than a few pictures.
The sites appear to be off the beaten path enough to avoid destruction by discordians and riff raff. Of course, rural parts of France, Britain, Portugal and Italy are dotted with small villages occupied by elderly people.
Although the brothers offer few direct clues; on their Facebook pages, sleuthing by fans goes on to determine the fate of these buildings and who owned them. Logic dictates that the upkeep was and is prohibitive and they are too far off the beaten path to be converted to commercial use.
Many were owned by elderly who had no heirs that can maintain these places. Perhaps attempts to sell have been made. But with the passage of time, the value decays along with the building, and a point-of-no-return is reached. But that doesn’t explain the abandonment of valuable items left on site. I suspect probate lawyers and courts are just running up the bill.
There are 369,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel but, once again, you have to read comments forever to separate the wheat from the chaff. A Google search turns up no individual media articles on their explorations, which leaves a lot of unsolved mysteries about who, why, how and when.
One aspect that makes these a joy to watch is the dignity and grace of the Belgians. There are lessons here to be learned in comportment. These men are the flip side of the bottom-of-the-barrel types we cover on our pages.
As they proceed respectfully and with wonderment through these former homes, you will see items carefully put back in their places. They constantly come across old photos and documents of what were wealthy families.
Unspoken is the question of ownership and trespass, but the explorers leave things examined but undisturbed. This doesn’t appear to be a treasure hunt. I am guessing that they usually get permission to enter and, given their reputation, receive it. An owner who even cares would be able to receive a survey of the property. Or maybe owners are so negligent they don’t really care.
The bottom line is that there are hundreds of hours of viewing of places from another era that one would never see in real life. “Bros of Decay” is a real blessing.