Before they were abandoned mansions, the world’s most opulent palaces and manors were built to be enjoyed generation after generation. But some luxurious homes have not fulfilled that destiny due to war, economic changes, or natural disasters. In the new book Abandoned Palaces (Amber Books Ltd., $30), author and historian Michael Kerrigan explores more than 100 of these once spectacular structures that have turned into ruins. For Kerrigan, the sites in the book are just as important as pristine abandoned mansions. “A beautifully preserved and managed stately home is a fascinating and imaginatively moving survival of the past into the present, but it doesn’t have anything to say to us about mortality or time—indeed, at an emotional level at least, it flatly contradicts all we know,” he says. The book showcases everything from a castle in Belgium to Russian estates, each hauntingly beautiful and with its own interesting history. “The key thing is the way a good ruin (and in this respect, at least, a grand palace outpunches a tumbledown hovel or industrial plant: The bigger and more magnificent they are, the harder they fall) dramatizes the ravaging effects of time,” Kerrigan says. Here, visit many intriguing ruins featured in Abandoned Palaces, as well as several more selected by AD.