21 of the world's most incredible abandoned sites

21 of the world's most incredible abandoned sites

 

Field Station Berlin TeufelsbergThe former Teufelsberg listening station in Berlin, Germany. Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

The INSIDER Summary:

  • Abandoned sites all over the world have a unique story to tell.
  • Houtouwan on Shengshan Island in China, for example, is an abandoned village in which nearly all the former homes and buildings are entirely covered in vegetation.
  • Bodie, California, is a classic American ghost town that dates back to the gold rush of the 1800s.

From once-thriving hotels that have fallen into a state of decay to defunct hospitals that are said to be haunted, there is always a fascinating story behind anything that's been abandoned.

There are many ghost towns in the US, for example, that were built during the gold rush of the 19th century and deserted soon after. Throughout Europe, there are forsaken castles and villages that shed light onto what life was like centuries ago.

From amusement parks to entire to entire villages, abandoned for reasons ranging from natural disasters to economic crises, these sites have become objects of fascination for travelers looking for a more unique way to explore a destination.

Keep reading for 21 of the most fascinating abandoned sites around the world.

Original Post

Houtouwan, Shengshan Island, China

Houtouwan, Shengshan Island, China
This village is covered in greenery.
REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Tourists love to visit the small village of Houtouwan on Shengshan Island for its unique buildings that are completely covered in vines.

In part due to complications related to its isolated location, the village has been abandoned since the 1990s. A tiny population of locals remains, who often welcome the mass of tourists who flock to the island. If visitors peer into the windows of the vine-covered homes, they can see remnants of furniture, clothing, and other belongings that previous tenants left behind.

Train Graveyard, Uyuni, Bolivia

Train Graveyard, Uyuni, Bolivia
The train graveyard is located on the Uyuni salt flat.
Marcorof/iStock

The Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia is the largest salt flat in the world, coming in at just over 4,000 square miles. Part of the flat has been unofficially designated as a train graveyard, housing tons of rusty, decayed locomotives.

The trains, many of which are now covered in graffiti, are mostly from Britain and date back to the 20th century. They decayed quickly, however, due to harsh salt winds. Visitors can now freely explore the odd attraction when visiting the remote salt flat.

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Ukraine
Bumper cars now sit in ruins at a former amusement park in Pripyat.
Tatyana Vyc/Shutterstock

On April 26, 1986, a radioactive release 10 times bigger than the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Around 350,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, leaving in such a haste that the city looks like it's frozen in time.

Some of the most haunting images of the abandoned city come from an amusement park that was set to open right after the nuclear disaster. Bumper cars, roller coasters, and carousels are rusted and graffitied, but still remain in place as they did 30 years ago. Radiation levels in the city are still too high for people to live there, so it remains untouched.

Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The former Olympic bobsleigh track is now covered in graffiti.
Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track/Wikipedia

This bobsleigh track was built for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. While the event drew in large crowds and the track was later used for other bobsleigh events, the Yugoslav Wars beginning in 1991 put a halt to the use of the state-of-the-art athletic complex.

The surrounding area is now overgrown and the track itself is covered in graffiti. Visitors over the years have been intrigued by the track's design, although locals warn against getting too close since there may be unexploded mines leftover from the war in the area.

The now-decayed complex, which used to be home to peak athleticism and Olympic spirit, is best viewed from afar today.

Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India

Ross Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
Overgrown trees on Ross Island.
Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

Vegetation has all but consumed the remains of the the island, which was once referred to as the "Paris of the East."

In its prime, the island was home to British government officials, as well as a penal settlement set up after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The British residents made it their home with extravagant dance halls, bakeries, clubs, pools, and gardens, until 1941 brought an earthquake and an invasion by the Japanese. Ross Island was then alternately claimed by the Japanese and British, until 1979 when the island was given to the Indian Navy, which established a small base there.

Today, tour groups visit the island almost every day.

Haludovo Palace Hotel, Krk, Croatia

Haludovo Palace Hotel, Krk, Croatia
The remains of the swimming pool at the Haludovo Palace Hotel.
AP Photo/Darko Bandic

The Haludovo Palace Hotel was once a luxurious vacation destination on the beautiful Croatian island of Krk.

The hotel became even more lavish when the founder of Penthouse Magazine, Bob Guccione, invested $45 million in the property and renamed it the Penthouse Adriatic Club Casino.

However, after the Yugoslav Wars began in the early 1990s, tourism in Krk came to a drastic halt. Today, many beautiful beachfront properties still remain empty, including this former resort.

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile
The ghost town of Humberstone in northern Chile.
Shutterstock / JeremyRichards

The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works in northern Chile are part of an abandoned mining town that was at its peak during the early 19th century.

Miners in the town harvested saltpeter, which was used to produce sodium nitrate fertilizer. This industry was booming in the town until synthetic nitrate was invented during WWI, rendering Humberstone and Santa Laura obsolete.

As a result, the mining town was shut down and abandoned, although many of the buildings still stand today and are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Olympic Village, Athens, Greece

Olympic Village, Athens, Greece
The site of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games is now abandoned.
AP

The Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens less than 15 years ago, although the Olympic Village has quickly fallen into decay over that short period.

During the 2004 games, the most elite athletes from all over the world competed in Athens, though many of the stadiums, pools, and other venues are now overgrown and dirty.

Prora, Rügen, Germany

Prora, Rügen, Germany
The abandoned oceanfront hotel complex.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Prora is a massive, three-mile-long resort complex located on the German island of Rügen on the Baltic Sea.

Construction on this giant beachfront property, meant for members of the Gestapo as well as weary German worker to holiday in, began in 1936, three years before Adolf Hitler invaded Poland. The project came to a halt once World War II began and the site was abandoned until recently.

It is currently being transformed into a luxury resort.

Bodie, California

Bodie, California
This ghost town is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
elleon/iStock

Bodie, California, is one of the more well-maintained "ghost towns" you'll find in the US because it is now a state park. However, a trip to the former gold mining town will still give you an authentic look back at life during the California gold rush of the late 1800s.

Many people believe that the town is haunted by former residents. You can even go on a nighttime ghost tour of some of the most popular buildings around town.

Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany

Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany
This site has a great view of Berlin.
Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

Teufelsberg translates to "devil's hill" in German, although the abandoned site is not nearly as creepy as its name suggests.

The area includes a manmade hill that was used as a US listening station during the Cold War. The towers and large dome-like structures have since been abandoned, and the city of Berlin now lists the area as a perfect place to enjoy the outdoors with a beautiful view.

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island is located near Nagasaki.
Michel Godimus / Shutterstock

Hashima Island, sometimes known as Battleship Island, sits just off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. The island was once home to a thriving mining community, but it has been abandoned since the 1970s.

Years of harsh weather and neglect have contributed to the deterioration of many of the city's buildings. Tourists, though, still love to explore the island's ruins that were featured in the 2012 James Bond film, "Skyfall."

The Moynaq Ship Graveyard, Uzbekistan

The Moynaq Ship Graveyard, Uzbekistan
Ships in a desert in Uzbekistan.
Shutterstock

The Moynaq Ship Graveyard is a ghost town in the middle of the Uzbekistani desert, almost 100 miles away from the nearest shore.

Once one of the four largest lakes in the world (it was 26,300 square miles), the Aral Sea dried up when the rivers feeding it were diverted for irrigation purposes in the 1960s.

Today, dozens of abandoned ships are disintegrating in the scorching desert heat.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Centralia, Pennsylvania
The "graffiti highway" in Centralia, Pennsylvania.
AP Photo/Michael Rubinkam

Centralia is a former mining town in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country. When a small fire at a landfill spread to local mines in 1962, the town encountered a health and safety crisis.

The fire continued to spread underground, causing smoke to rise from the ground throughout Centralia, eventually making the town unlivable.

Today, streets, homes, and businesses are empty, giving the town an eerie feel. Visitors often venture to an abandoned stretch of road dubbed the "Graffiti Highway" to see steam rising from the ground, and to leave their mark on the site.

Thurmond, West Virginia

Thurmond, West Virginia
The abandoned town of Thurmond.
Boyang Wang/Shutterstock

Thurmond, West Virginia, was once a thriving railroad town that has since been abandoned (though a handful of people do remain).

Once a popular stop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, its depot is now a visitor's center for the New River Gorge National River, giving tourists a glimpse of what life was like in the early 20th century.

Kennecott, Alaska

Kennecott, Alaska
Kennecott is an abandoned mining town.
cybercrisi/Shutterstock

Kennecott is a remote Alaskan town located in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The town had its heyday from 1911 to 1938 when it was a hub for mining copper. Once the area's copper supply ran out, residents started leaving Kennecott. By 1950, it was completely abandoned.

Kennecott has been a National Historic Landmark since 1986, although the rickety wooden buildings still look like they did years ago.

Grossinger's Catskill Resort, Liberty, New York

Grossinger's Catskill Resort, Liberty, New York
The pool at this resort is now completely overgrown.
John Moore/Getty

The Catskill Mountains in New York are still a popular vacation destination, although this former resort is no longer the luxurious escape it once was.

Grossinger's Catskill Resort in Liberty, New York, has been abandoned since the 1980s. The hotel first opened in the early 1900s, although it really took off in the 1950s. In its heyday, the resort had a swimming pool, golf course, ski slope, and theater, offering amenities for every season.

However, after the resort's owner died in 1972 and the property was sold to a hotel developer, plans to renovate Grossinger's fell through and the resort fell into disrepair. Today, the property is fenced off — though that doesn't stop urban explorers who want to sneak a peek at what remains.

Craco, Italy

Craco, Italy
Hillside ruins in Craco, Italy.
Stee/Shutterstock

Craco, Italy, gives a whole new meaning to the term "ghost town." The crumbling hillside town dates all the way back to the Medieval period. While buildings in Craco have been damaged due to centuries of earthquakes, landslides, and other natural causes, locals still cling to the history of the structures that remain, including a miraculously unscathed statue of the Virgin Mary.

Craco is uninhabited today, although tourists love visiting the ancient ruins and locals return to the town for religious festivals. Since the town still looks like it's from another era, it has been used to film several movies, including "Passion of the Christ" in 2004.

Garnet, Montana

Garnet, Montana
The ghost town of Garnet, Montana.
Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Garnet, Montana, is one of many towns in the western US that was built in response to an influx of people trying their luck during the gold rush.

As a result of this sudden population boom, Garnet was built quickly and cheaply so that its around 1,000 miners could get to work as soon as possible. Today, many of the town's log cabins are still in good condition, resulting in crowds of visitors looking to get a glimpse into a real life ghost town.

Letchworth Village, Rockland County, New York

Letchworth Village, Rockland County, New York
The large campus of this mental institution is now largely in disrepair.
Letchworth Village/Wikipedia

Located in Rockland County, New York, Letchworth Village is a sprawling collection of partially demolished buildings. Formerly a mental institution, the 2,000-acre complex was home to around 130 structures, from medical buildings to dormitories to a synagogue.

While most of the buildings have fallen into a deep state of disrepair, it is still possible to see the architectural inspiration taken from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, which it was modeled after.

Maunsell Sea & Air Forts, Thames and Mersey estuaries, United Kingdom

Maunsell Sea & Air Forts, Thames and Mersey estuaries, United Kingdom
The forts were used during World War II.
Mansell Forts/Wikipedia

During World War II, the Maunsell Army Sea & Air Forts were built to defend England against German forces. Raised above the water on stilts, the forts were designed by Guy Maunsell, a British civil engineer.

The forts officially closed in the 1950s, but the structures that remain can occasionally be seen from land at East Beach Park in Southend-on-Sea.

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