17 unique and abandoned places around the world

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All around the world, there are abandoned locations, ranging from mining towns to serene islands, holy geological wonders to vast megacities. When nature gradually reclaims ruins, they frequently have an eerie beauty. We believe that telling their tales is worthwhile. Some had eerie folklore attached to them, while others were just abandoned as time went on.

Recall that although exploring deserted locations might be thrilling, it can also be risky. To avoid getting in trouble for trespassing, stay away from any dangerous structures, always ask for permission before entering, or sign up for an official guided tour.

The most interesting and abandoned places on Earth

Dilapidated house falling in on itself.

1. Kennecot, Alaska

Kennecot mining camp, one of the abandoned places in Alaska. The image shows old buildings build from wood on a steep slope.

Kennecot, which was constructed in 1911, was originally the hub of a massive copper mining enterprise. The settlement was abandoned overnight in 1938 when the ore ran out and the labor stopped. Currently, the enormous structures stand in the middle of Wrangell St. Elias National Park, serving as a reminder of the prospectors’ tenacity and inventiveness. Tours with guides are offered from May through September. You may explore the enormous 14-story concentrate mill and learn fascinating anecdotes from the town’s heyday.

2. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

The crumbling interior of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, showing some metal steps going up and a row of doors lining a long and creepy corridor.

Famous criminals like Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton were housed at the Eastern State Penitentiary, which used to be the most well-known and costly jail in the world. Relatively recently, in 1971, it shuttered, making it one of Philadelphia’s most eerie locations. The dilapidated cell blocks can be visited without executing a reverse prison break; day and night excursions are offered. Come taste a craft beer in the former jail yard, visit restored 19th-century cells, and hear tales of heroic escapes.

3. Canfranc Train Station, Spain

The elegant Canfranc train station, with mountains in the background as empty train tracks roll in front.

As a hub for trade and espionage during World War II, this luxurious station on the French and Spanish borders was dubbed the Casablanca of the Pyrenees. Even so, in the years following the war, the line itself was hardly ever utilized. It was shut down in 1970 due to safety concerns following a freight train derailing. Plans are in process to bring the station back to its former splendor, and some of its components are still in operation.

4. Varosha, Cyprus

View of Varosha, an abandoned beach resort in Cyprus. Image shows hotel tower blocks, many with smashed windows, and a span of ocean in the foreground.

Varosha was the bustling tourist area of Famagusta until the middle of the 1970s. In its prime, it was able to compete with the French Riviera in drawing movie stars like Brigitte Bardot, Elizabeth Taylor, and Richard Burton. After the Turkish government annexed northern Cyprus in 1974, the resort was abandoned. Sadly, access is not feasible because the military patrols it and has it cordoned off. But you can see the crumbling luxury buildings and lengthy stretch of golden beach through the gate.

5. Tequendama Falls Museum, Colombia

The eerie windows of the Salta hotel overlooking the Tequendama falls.

Built in 1923, this opulent estate was transformed into a five-star hotel in 1928. It closed in the early 1990s and sat abandoned for years amid ghost stories. According to local tradition, aboriginal people used to jump from the falls to elude capture by Spanish conquistadors, then they would change into eagles and take off. The building had a happy ending when it reopened as a museum dedicated to environmental conservation and cultural preservation in 2013.

6. Craco, Italy

Crumbling buildings set against a blue sky in Craco, Italy.

This eighth-century ghost town is located in Southern Italy. It withstood invasions, famine, and war for 1,400 years before malfunctioning plumbing forced its occupants to evacuate in 1991. The deserted medieval streets are now a famous spot for filmmaking, having been used in films such as Quantum of Solace (2010) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). For a nominal charge, guided excursions throughout the town are offered; alternatively, you can come during one of the six summertime holy festivals.

7. Kalyazin bell tower, Russia

The bell tower of a flooded town, Kalyazin, pokes out of a lake as two row boats it by a pier.

In Russia’s Uglish Reservoir, the bell tower of a centuries-old monastery gives a glimpse of the abandoned village below. Stalin’s attempts to modernize the USSR resulted in flooding of the valley. The St. Nicholas Cathedral bell tower is proudly visible above the water, even though the majority of the structures are completely buried in water that is up to 23 meters deep in some spots. You could go on a boat excursion and look inside. It is occasionally utilized to hold Orthodox Christian rites and is reinforced for safety.

8. Spotted Lake (Klikuk), Canada

View of spotted lake, a sacred abandoned place in Canada, on a bright but cloudy day.

Known as “the most magical place in Canada,” Spotted Lake appears normal for the majority of the year. Summertime sees it start to dry out, leaving behind colorful, circular puddles of water that resemble polka dots. It is sacred to the Okanagan First Nations people, who refer to it as Klikuk. Every pool is said to have special healing properties based on legend. Since 2001, it has been a protected area, so getting up close is not possible, but you may still get a decent view from the adjacent roadway.

9. Rainbow Mountains (Zhangye Danxia), China

Compelling image of the rainbow mountains in China, striped red, yellow and white.

The Rainbow Mountains of China have vivid patterns of magenta, scarlet, yellow, and turquoise that resemble a surreal painting. It’s difficult to get to given its position in northwest China, but the journey is definitely worth it to see it for yourself. The park’s most colorful area is 50 kilometers long, but there are boardwalks to allow you to get up close and personal with the unusual geological formations and shuttle buses to help you get about.

10. Kayakoy, Turkey

This abandoned village is located a short distance to the west of the popular vacation spot of Hisaronu, which is where the Mediterranean and Aegean seas converge. Anatolian Muslims and Greek Orthodox Christians lived in the area until the early 1920s. The settlement atop the slope was abandoned during a population exchange following the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War in 1923. The tipping point came in 1957 with an earthquake. Houses on the slope were abandoned to the weather, while those on the valley plain were fixed up. You can hike up and tour the abandoned homes, schools, cafes, and shops now that it is a museum.

11. Bodie, California

View of Bodie, one of the abandoned places in California. It looks like a typical ghost town with wooden buildings and a dusty road leading into the mountains.

This Wild West ghost town is among the most well-known abandoned locations. The dilapidated buildings on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range are surrounded by dusty red pathways. About 10,000 people lived in this boom town during the gold rush, with 40 stagecoach arrivals a day coming to seek their fortune. The people went on after the mines closed. It is now a part of the Bodie State Historic Park, which has 170 buildings that have been kept in a controlled state of degradation.

12. Aoshima “cat island”, Japan

A large group of cats wandering around on the concrete street of Aoshima, aka Cat Island.

Originally, fishermen transported cats to Japanese islands such as Aoshima to aid in the removal of large populations of rats and mice. The island’s population decreased over time as young people moved out to seek their fortune in the city. But the cats kept on reproducing, and today they far outnumber people. There are about 120 cats living in Aoshima but only 15–20 humans. The ferry ride to the island takes about thirty minutes. Remember that the island is home to people, not just a destination for tourists, and treat them with respect.

13. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The ancient towers of the temples surrounding Angkor Wat, one of the most famous abandoned places, peek out of the trees.

Known for its ancient sculptures and overgrown temples, Angkor Wat in Cambodia is a popular tourist destination and one of the most well-known abandoned locations in the world. However, after the Khmer kingdom abandoned the temple complex in the fifteenth century, this holy city was lost to the world for hundreds of years. Only in 1860 was it found again, this time by the French naturalist Henri Mouhot. The Angkor Archaeological Park requires a special permit to enter, and while it is possible to see the main attractions in a single day, it is best to allow extra time to fully comprehend the complex’s enormity.

14. Hirta, Scotland

View from a hillside on the island of Hirta, looking down towards a beach with a few small boats in the cloudy bay.

In the late 17th century, the largest island in the St Kilda archipelago was home to 180 people; today, it is essentially deserted. When the final 36 residents relocated to Lochaline on the mainland in 1930, the community was abandoned. The National Trust for Scotland currently owns the island, and day visits are offered all summer long. There aren’t many tourist amenities, but what there is is a campground, restrooms, and a tiny museum housed in a cottage from the 19th century.

15. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Sand dunes pouring through an internal doorway in Kolmanskop, showing how the desert can reclaim abandoned places.

Kolmanskop, a once affluent colony in the Namib Desert, is a famous abandoned diamond mining town and one of the most recognizable locations in the world. Opera groups traveled from Europe to perform, and trains were used to import fresh drinking water. According to legend, a few eccentric locals even kept ostriches as pets. But when larger diamond resources were discovered near the shore, residents moved to fresh pastures. These days the luxurious houses are in danger of blending completely into the desert as sand sweeps through their rooms. From the coastal town of Luderitz, which is nearby, guided tours are offered.

16. Lake Reschen Bell Tower, Italy

A church bell tower peeks out of the glacial lake in Alto Adige, Italy.

When Lake Reschen was formed in the middle of the 20th century, numerous tiny settlements were flooded, as was the case with many reservoir-building projects. The steeple of a church dating back to the fourteenth century is seen sticking out of the water, while areas of Graun and Reschen are submerged. When the lake freezes over, brave adventurers venture out on foot, but it’s far safer to explore from a boat. According to a local myth, bells can still be heard ringing in the winter. Which, given that they were taken out a week before to the lake’s formation, is kind of unsettling.

17. Humberstone, Chile

A rusting corrugated iron structure is one of the few signs that Humberstone once existed.

Another thriving ghost town from the heyday of mining is Humberstone. This was centered on potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, extraction rather than gold, diamonds, or copper. Once inhabited by more than 3,000 people, it was swiftly abandoned when German scientists created a less expensive replacement. The Atacama Desert’s dry air is softly preserving the structures and machinery today. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Chilean National Monument, you can visit and view the historic buildings, bandstand, and machinery.

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