12 Ghost Cities Where You Can Choose Your Own Adventure


1. Hashima Island  -  Japan

Hashima Island - Japan ( Sky Today)

Hashima Island – Japan ( Sky Today)

The island was populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility. The island’s most notable features are the abandoned concrete buildings and the sea wall surrounding it. As petroleum replaced coal in Japan in the 1960s, coal mines began shutting down all over the country, and Hashima’s mines were no exception. Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine in 1974, and today it is empty and bare, which is why it is called Ghost Island.

2. Centralia, Pennsylvania - USA

Centralia, Pennsylvania (Sky Today)

Centralia, Pennsylvania (Sky Today)

This small Pennsylvania town of 1,100 people was essentially abandoned after a fire in 1962 in the town’s landfill spread to a vast network of underground coal mines. Geologists estimate the fire could burn for another 250 years.The wasteland now has sulfurous steam pouring out of cracks and holes in the mud, spreading poisonous gases and creating sinkholes big enough to swallow people or cars. In 2010, there were still four residents clinging to their homes and refusing to leave, even as the state attempted to evict them and dismantle the town’s remnants.

3. Beelitz-Heilstätten – Germany

Beelitz-Heilstätten - Germany (Sky Today)

Beelitz-Heilstätten – Germany (Sky Today)

 It takes just under an hour on the regional train from Alexanderplatz to reach the sprawling 60-building complex of Beelitz Heilstätten. Once one of Germany’s largest sanatoriums for consumptives, it is now a ghost town, overwhelming in both scale and disrepair. Felled trees block the roads leading onto the site, where crumbling balconies and overgrown tunnel shafts seem haunted by its past as a convalescent home for such patients as Adolf Hitler and Erich Honecker.

4. Oradour-sur-Glane  -  France

Oradour-sur Glane - France (Sky Today)

Oradour-sur Glane – France (Sky Today)

There are only theories on why on June 10, 1944, Sturmbannführer Adolf Diekmann, the 2nd Waffen SS Panzer Division Das Reich, 1st Battalion’s commander decided to order his troops to go house to house through the little village, corralling all occupants, whether they be men, women or children, into the town square.  The Germans were brutally careful that no one received less than a fatal bullet.The buildings, with their 642 murdered occupants, were then burned. After the liberation of France, General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces during the war (and later President of France), saw the desecrated little town and heard its story from the handful of survivors who had managed to flee the town during the round-up. Right then he declared that the town should remain exactly as it was, as a reminder of the barbarity of war.

5. Bodie, California – USA

Bodie, California - USA (Sky Today)

Bodie, California – USA (Sky Today)

Founded in 1876, Bodie is the authentic American ghost town. It started life as a small mining settlement, though found even more fortune from nearby mines that attracted thousands. By 1880 Bodie boasted a population of almost 10,000 – such was the boom. At its peak, 65 saloons lined the town’s main street, and there was even a Chinatown with several hundred Chinese residents. Dwindling resources proved fatal however, and although greatly reduced in prominence, Bodie held a permanent residency through most of the 20th century. Even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932. Bodie is now unpopulated. The town was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and in 1962 it became Bodie State Historic Park as the few residents left moved on. Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay. Only a small part of the town survives. Visitors can walk the deserted streets of a town and interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Bodie is open all year, but the long road that leads to it is usually closed in the winter due to heavy snowfall, so the most comfortable time to visit is during the summer months.

6. Maunsell Forts – UK

Maunsell Forts - UK (Sky Today)

Maunsell Forts – UK (Sky Today)

These fortified English towers were operated by the Royal Navy and provided anti-aircraft fire against German air raids during World War II. Built in 1942, the sea forts were towed into the Thames Estuary and grounded in water no deeper than 100 feet. Each fort consisted of seven structures connected by catwalks. The forts were accessible by an entrance at the base of the platform. Although parts of these ladders are still visible today, they are in poor condition and attempting to access them could prove hazardous. In 1955, it was decided that the forts were no longer necessary and they were decommissioned. The abandoned forts were used as pirate radio stations during the 60′s and 70′s, when unlicensed illegal broadcasting was rampant.

7.  Humberstone – Chile

Humberstone - Chile (Sky Today)

Humberstone – Chile (Sky Today)

n 1872, Humberstone was established as a nitrate mining center in the harsh climate of the Atacama Desert. Humberstone processed the largest deposit of saltpeter (nitrate’s nickname) in the world and provided the valuable mineral to countries in North America and Europe for fertilizers, food preservatives and explosives. The creation of a cheap synthetic substitute in the 1930′s rendered the once robust mining operation obsolescent and the town slowly came to a standstill. Humberstone housed large factories as well as a swimming pool, marketplace, theatre and a hotel. This Chilean ghost town has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the feel of a Western movie set.

8. Kolmanskop – Namibia

Kolmanskop - Namibia (Sky Today)

Kolmanskop – Namibia (Sky Today)

 Kolmanskop is a ghost town in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port of Lüderitz. In 1908, Luederitz was plunged into diamond fever and people rushed into the Namib desert hoping to make an easy fortune. Within two years, a town, complete with a casino, school, hospital and exclusive residential buildings, was established in the barren sandy desert. But shortly after the drop in diamond sales after the First World War, the beginning of the end started. During the 1950′s the town was deserted and the dunes began to reclaim what was always theirs. Soon the metal screens collapsed and the pretty gardens and tidy streets were buried under the sand. Doors and windows creaked on their hinges, cracked window panes stared sightlessly across the desert. A new ghost town had been born. A couple of old buildings are still standing and some interiors like the theatre is still in very good condition, but the rest are crumbling ruins demolished from grandeur to ghost houses.

9. Craco – Italy

Craco - Italy (Sky Today)

Craco – Italy (Sky Today)

Craco is located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera. About 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. This medieval town is typical of those in the area, built up with long undulating hills all around that allow for the farming of wheat and other crops. Craco can be dated back to 1060 when the land was in the ownership of Archbishop Arnaldo, Bishop of Tricarico. This long-standing relationshop with the Church had much influence over the inhabitants throughout the ages. In 1891, the population of Craco stood at well over 2,000 people. Though there had been many problems, with poor agricultural conditions creating desperate times. Between 1892 and 1922 over 1,300 people moved from the town to North America. Poor farming was added to by earthquakes, landslides, and War – all of which contributed to this mass migration. Between 1959 and 1972 Craco was plagued by these landslides and quakes. In 1963 the remaining 1,800 inhabitants were transferred to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera, and the original Craco remains in a state of crumbling decay to this day.

10. PRYPIAT  Chernobyl - Ukraine

PRYPIAT  Chernobyl - Ukraine (Sky Today)

PRYPIAT Chernobyl – Ukraine (Sky Today)

Prypiat is an abandoned city in the “zone of alienation” in northern Ukraine. It was home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers, abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. Its population had been around 50,000 prior to the accident. Until recently, the site was practically a museum, documenting the late Soviet era. Apartment buildings (four of which were recent constructions not yet occupied), swimming pools, hospitals and other buildings were all abandoned, and everything inside the buildings was left behind, including records, papers, TVs, children’s toys, furniture, valuables, and clothing, etc. that any normal family would have with them. Residents were only allowed to take away a suitcase full of documents, books and clothes that were not contaminated. However, many of the apartment buildings were almost completely looted some time around the beginning of the 21st century.[citation needed] Nothing of value was left behind; even toilet seats were taken away. Some buildings have remained untouched. Many of the building interiors have been vandalized and ransacked over the years. Because the buildings are not maintained, the roofs leak, and in the spring the rooms are flooded with water. It is not unusual to find trees growing on roofs and even inside buildings. This hastens deterioration, and due to this, a 4-story school partially collapsed in July of 2005.

11. Famagusta – Cyprus

Famagusta - Cyprus (Sky Today)

Famagusta – Cyprus (Sky Today)

Varosha is a settlement in the unrecognised Republic of Northern Cyprus. Prior to the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, it was the modern tourist area of the city of Famagusta. For the last three decades, it has been left as a ghost town. In the 1970s, the city was the number one tourist destination in Cyprus. To cater to the increasing number of tourists, many new high-rise buildings and hotels were constructed.When the Turkish Army gained control of the area during the war, they fenced it off and have since refused admittance to anyone except Turkish military and United Nations personnel. The Annan Plan had provided for the return of Varosha to Greek Cypriot control, but this never happened, as the plan was rejected by Greek Cypriot voters. As no repairs have been carried out for 34 years, all of the buildings are slowly falling apart. Nature is reclaiming the area, as metal corrodes, windows break, and plants work their roots into the walls and pavements. Sea turtles have been seen nesting on the deserted beaches.

12. San Zhi -Taiwan

San Zhi -Taiwan (Sky Today)

San Zhi -Taiwan (Sky Today)

More of a modern choice this time. Below is an abandoned City in the North of Taiwan. In the area of ‘San Zhi’, this futuristic pod village was initially built as a luxury vacation retreat for the rich. However, after numerous fatal accidents during construction, production was halted. A combination of lack of money and lack of willingness meant that work was stopped permanently, and the alien like structures remain as if in remembrance of those lost. Indeed, rumors in the surrounding area suggest that the City is now haunted by the ghosts of those who died. After this the whole thing received the cover-up treatment. And the Government, who commissioned the site in the first place was keen to distance itself from the bizarre happenings. Thanks to this, there are no named architects. The project may never be restarted thanks to the growing legend, and there would be no value in re-developing the area for other purpose. Maybe simply because destroying homes of lonely spirits is a bad thing to do.

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