The 30 Most Unbelievable Abandoned Places
Some abandoned places will scare the living daylights out of you, while other deserted sites will take your breath away. Either way, you might be tempted to explore these must-see destinations yourself.
From floating forests and restricted cities to a scary doll island, these are the 30 most unbelievable abandoned places. Keep reading to learn the fascinating (and sometimes tragic) stories of these once-thriving sites.
Located in southern Africa’s Namib Desert, Kolmanskop was once a small community of German settlers seeking wealth. In 1908, settlers discovered that the area was rich in diamonds, so they mined the fields until there were no diamonds left. As the diamonds disappeared, so did the settlers.
Floating Forest - Sydney, Australia
A haunting, yet beautiful floating forest rests in Homebush Bay, Australia. The forest is actually the remains of the SS Ayrfield, a large steamship that was decommissioned after World War II. How is the SS Ayrfield still floating? The answer remains unknown.
The Maunsell Sea Forts - England
Located close to the Thames and Mersey rivers in Britain, the Maunsell Sea Forts were once armed towers. During World War II, the towers helped defend against possible German air and ship raids. The forts were retired in the late 1950s. Several new residents have since occupied the towers, including pirate radio operators and the Principality of Sealand, which claims to be an independent nation.
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone - Pripyat, Ukraine
Instagrammers and photographers can’t stay away from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a hazardous area of 1,000 square miles. Although authorities restrict access to the Exclusion Zone to prevent the spread of radiological contamination, HBO’s hit TV show, Chernobyl, has attracted tourists to the area.
City Hall Subway Station - New York, NY
This subway station is a silent jaw-dropping metro terminal underneath noisy City Hall in New York City. Entering the station is like being transported back to 1904, when the station first opened. The skylights, colored glass tilework, beautifully framed arches and brass chandeliers perfectly capture early 1900s interior design.
Battleship Island - Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island has many names, such as Battleship Island (for its shape) and Ghost Island (for its spookiness). The Japanese island has a dark and tragic past. From the 1800s to the late 1900s, mine workers populated Hashima Island and were forced to retrieve underwater coal for the war effort. These mine workers labored under dangerous conditions and endured cruel treatment.
Teufelsberg - Berlin, Germany
In Berlin, Germany, sits an abandoned Cold War listening station. The station lays on top of Devil's Mountain, a 262-foot hill made of World War II wreckage. In the 1950s, the NSA built the station to spy on communist East Berlin. This sounds like a story right out of a movie.
Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse - Denmark
Getting buried in sand at the beach is fun unless you’re the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse. Located on the North Sea coast of Denmark, the lighthouse has been neglected for over a decade. Not only is the lighthouse abandoned, but it has also been swallowed by the surrounding sand. Yikes!
Tianducheng - Hangzhou, China
The Eiffel tower. French-style architecture. Wide streets. Beautiful fountains and buildings. We’re not talking about Paris. We’re actually describing its twin city in China. Believe it or not, a miniature replica of the city of romance sits in China’s Tianducheng district.
St. George’s Church - Luková, Czech Republic
Kostel Svatého Jiří, also known as St. George's Church, has had an unbelievable amount of bad luck. Built in 1352, the church was almost destroyed by fires countless times. But that didn’t deter the congregation. In 1968, parts of the roof fell in during a funeral service.
The hilltop town of Craco just couldn’t catch a break. Founded in the 8th Century, Craco fell victim to the Black Plague, earthquakes, landslides and floods. Sounds terrible, right? After another earthquake in 1980, residents called it quits and left the city.
The Island of the Dolls - Xochimilco, Mexico
Xochimilco is more than just a World Heritage site; it’s also famous thanks to Isla de las Munecas (the Island of the Dolls). If the spiders falling on your face won’t scare you, these creepy dolls may do the job. Tucked between Xochimilco’s canals, the area is known for the hundreds of dolls (and doll parts) dangling from trees and nailed to buildings.
It’s no surprise that the hottest place on earth is uninhabited. Dallol’s average temperature is 94°F. With a hot temperature like that, who would want to live there? Believe it or not, people actually inhabited this scorching area once. From the 1900s to the 1960s, Italian and U.S. companies mined in Dallol.
Pompeii - Campania, Italy
Pompeii wasn’t deserted because everyone picked up their belongings and left. In A.D. 79, the bustling city was left empty after an earthquake and a powerful volcanic eruption occurred. After Mount Vesuvius erupted,13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice covered the city. The thick volcanic ash also buried residents who couldn’t flee, killing at least 2,000 people.
Locals claim to hear ghosts screaming and crying in Belchite, a town left in ruins. Belchite still stands as a reminder of the deadly Spanish Civil War, which took place between 1936 and 1939. The air stunk of rotting bodies. The ground was covered in so much rubble that no one could find the streets.
In 1985, the Venezuelan government deliberately flooded the town of Potosí to create a hydroelectric dam, forcing 1,200 residents to evacuate. The cross from the church’s steeple was the only visible remnant of the drowned town. For 26 years, Potosí remained underwater.
Bodie went from Wild West boomtown to ghost town in a few short years. It used to be a popular Gold Rush destination with a population of 10,000 people. In 1915, discouraged settlers abandoned Bodie after the decline of gold. For more than 150 years, Bodie has been left untouched, including the 100 deserted buildings and everything inside them.
During World War II, one of the worst massacres against French citizens took place in Oradour-sur-Glane. In 1944, Nazi military forces brutally murdered 642 residents, including women and children. The Nazi soldiers looted and burned the village, including the church and barns.
Machu Picchu - Cusco Region, Peru
Many globetrotters know that Machu Picchu is a famous Inca monument, but some people don’t realize that it’s actually an abandoned civilization. Why was it deserted in the first place? Historians believe that the inhabitants left during the Spanish conquests or died from smallpox in 1572.
Located on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, Plymouth was destroyed by the Soufrière Hills volcano. Fearing for their lives, residents evacuated while the volcano continued to erupt in 1995. The tragic event claimed at least 19 lives. Plymouth was officially abandoned in 1997, shutting down all businesses, including the W. H. Bramble Airport.
Have you ever heard of Silent Hill, the terrifying video game and movie? Believe it or not, Silent Hill was based on the real town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. In 1980, almost 1,000 people lived in Centralia. By 2013, only seven residents remained due to the coal mine fire that has been burning below the town since 1962. The fire is expected to burn for 250 years.
About 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas lays the bizarre ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Rhyolite, a former gold mining hub, thrived with a hospital, an opera house and a stock exchange. Charles M. Schwab invested in the town and purchased one of the mines too.
In the 1970s, Varosha, Cyprus was a paradise for millionaires. Varosha boasted a successful tourism economy with luxurious beachfront hotels, attracting famous visitors such as Elizabeth Taylor and Brigitte Bardot. However, everything changed in an instant in 1974.
Villa Epecuén, Argentina
The flooded abandoned town of Villa Epecuén is now filled with pale rubble and thin trees. Villa Epecuén was once a hot tourist spot, known for the healing salt waters of Lago Epecuén. Built in the 1920s, Villa Epecuén received an average of 5,000 visitors each year.
Holland Island - Chesapeake Bay, MD
In the 1600s, watermen and farmers used to live on Holland Island. However, the wind and tide gradually destroyed many buildings, including homes and stores. Residents tried to stop the erosion by building stone walls, but they failed. The town’s attempts were no match for the forces of nature.
The Valley of the Mills - Sorrento, Italy
In the deep canyons of Sorrento, Italy, deserted old mills are left to waste away. “The Valley of the Mills” was once powered by water. The mills functioned as flour production companies in the 900s, contributing to Italy’s food industry. Due to a rise in humidity and the treacherous terrain surrounding the mills, they were abandoned in 1866.
Beelitz Heilstätten Hospital - Germany
This horrifying, neglected military hospital definitely lives up to its creepy vibe. Built in 1898, Beelitz Heilstätten Hospital treated people with fatal conditions, like lung disease and tuberculosis. A young Adolf Hitler also sought treatment at this spooky health center.
Mirny Diamond Mine - Eastern Siberia, Russia
Mirny Diamond Mine, the world's second largest man-made hole, is over 1,722 feet deep and 3,900 feet wide. Joseph Stalin, the dictator of the Soviet Union, ordered the construction of the diamond mine in the 1940s. The mine remained a hot spot for diamonds between 1957 and 2001, requiring lots of effort in treacherous climate conditions.
Eastern State Penitentiary - Philadelphia, PA
Notorious criminals, like "Slick Willie" Sutton and "Scarface" Al Capone lived inside the walls of the Eastern State Penitentiary. Built in 1829, the prison took complete isolation to new extremes. Prisoners stayed in their own private cells. They also exercised alone and ate their meals alone. Interacting with other prisoners or guards was forbidden.
Ayutthaya Historical Park - Thailand
Before Bangkok was even founded, the flourishing capital of Thailand was Ayutthaya. King Ramathibodi I founded the old city of Ayutthaya in 1351. The Burmese Army burned and destroyed the city in 1767, leaving Ayutthaya in ruins. During its existence, 35 kings claimed the throne in the Ayutthaya kingdom.