The Ten Spookiest Abandoned Cities in the World

By Peter Sarmas on 13 Sep 2013
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All over the world, there are cities that have been abandoned by civilisation.

Some have been abandoned due to war, while others have been neglected due to natural disasters. Then there are cities that have been abandoned for reasons more sinister.

In honour of Friday the 13th, we’ve put together a list of the spookiest abandoned cities.

1. Pripyat (Ukraine)

Ukraine is of course home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which in 1986 experienced a disastrous explosion. Large quantities of radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere, which spread over a large part of western Soviet Russia and Europe.

One of the towns most horrifically affected was the nearby town of Pripyat, which remains unsafe for humans to this day.

The town is exactly as it was prior to the explosion in 1986, with only changes the natural decay it has experienced over time.

We think you’ll agree that images of the Pripyat Fun Park are particularly eerie…

2. Sanzhi (New Taipei, Taiwan)

The Sanzhi area, located in New Taipei in Taiwan, was originally constructed to be a “UFO architecture” style holiday resort for US servicemen who were spending time in Taiwan while working on military relations.

However, the resort never got the opportunity to welcome its first military guest. During the construction, a freakish number of workers lost their lives in incidents that have been ruled as accidental deaths.

There were several car accidents, but a large number of bizarre accidents resulted in the deaths of workers as well. It was rumoured that at least 20 deaths occurred due to “supernatural” causes.

There has been speculation that the site was built on a Dutch burial ground – but others claim the deaths occurred as a result of the destruction of a spiritual dragon statue during construction.

3. Craco (Basilicata, Italy)

The town of Craco was originally built on a cliff side overlooking the ocean on the Basilicata border. This was so the town’s people could defend themselves against potential invaders with the added advantage of height.

However, in 1963, after they experienced a series of earthquakes which were followed by a number of disastrous landslides, the townspeople decided to abandon the site for the safety of lower ground.

The empty abandoned structures still stand today and Craco is a popular visiting place for tourists who like to explore the old, untouched houses and churches.

4. Kolmanskop (Namibia)

In the early 1900s it was discovered that the lands of the area now known as Kolmanskop in Namibia, Africa, were home to a great wealth of diamonds.

When German miners learnt of this, they quickly established the city as a mining town of their own. The town was built in traditional German style, featuring a ballroom, a theatre and even the first tram system in Africa.

The town later died down after World War I, and a short period after the miners moved on in 1954, the sands of Africa reclaimed the land, covering streets and structures and slowly burying all signs of civilisation.

At this point in time, there are only a few buildings still half visible peeking up from the sand. The ghost town of Kolmanskop still remains a very popular tourist’s attraction, though they require special permission to visit.

5. Ghost Island (Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan)

During Japan’s Industrial Revolution of the mid-to-late twentieth century, the Mitsubishi Corporation built a city on the Nagasaki islands in order for Japanese workers to live with their families while they worked on the island as coal miners.

The island featured some of Japan’s first ever high-rise concrete buildings, as well as shops and movie theatres, and thrived for almost a century.

The town was abandoned in 1974, and almost entirely neglected until 2009 when the island reopened as “Ghost Island,” a spooky, isolated tourist attraction well deserving of its name.

6. Oradour-sur-Glane (Limousin, France)

The case of Oradour-sur-Glane is a tragic one.

During World War II, Nazi troops destroyed the village of Oradour-sur-Glane and killed 642 civilians. The residual evidence leftover from the rampage remains exactly as it was on the day the event occurred in 1944.

The abandoned and destroyed city is open to visitors and serves as a reminder of the monstrosity of war, as well as a memorial to the villagers who died during the violent attack.

Known as “martyr village”, all visitors to the very sad site are asked to remain silent in tribute to those who lost their lives in the horrific event.

7. Centralia (Pennsylvania, United States)

Although technically occupied by about 10 people, the city of Centralia was more or less abandoned by the state of Pennsylvania in 1962 after a fire broke out in a landfill site.

It wasn’t long before the fire spread through a hole to a coal mine that runs beneath the city – and believe it or not, the fire has been burning ever since.

For decades, smoke has billowed out of cracks in the road, giving the entire town a very creepy, smoky appearance. At any given moment, dangerous holes in the ground open up and release what is predicted to be thousand degree heat and dangerous vapours into the air.

Residents of Centralia have been slowly evacuated by authorities despite much resistance – the few who remain claim that the evacuation is a conspiracy plot by the state of Pennsylvania to steal their legal rights to the valuable anthracite coal reserves located under their houses.

8. Humberstone (Northern Atacama desert, Chile)

Humberstone is a former saltpeter (a common food preservative) refinery or “nitrate town” located in northern Chile where many workers both lived and worked.

Located in one of the driest and remote deserts in the world, the workers of Humberstone produced the fertilizer sodium nitrate which transformed the agricultural lands in North and South America and Europe, and produced a great deal of wealth for Chile.

Humberstone is now another abandoned site, and was declared a UNESCO protected heritage site in 2005. Today, visitors marvel at how workers lived and worked for so many years in the harsh, deserted conditions of the now abandoned town of Humberstone.

9. Bodie (California, United States)

The city of Bodie is a former gold rush site that reached its peak in the 1880s and was believed to be one of the biggest gold mining cities in California.

Bodie was home to 65 saloons which lined the mile long main street of the mining town. The city also featured several churches, hospitals, four fire departments and even its own Chinatown district.

After the mining boom, the town was abandoned in 1942. Today, visitors are invited by the state of California to roam the streets of the deserted mining town and soak in the culture of a time gone by.

10. Kayaköy (Muğla, Turkey)

The town of Kayaköy was home to thousands of Greek Christians in the south west of Turkey for centuries until the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, also known as the Turkish War of Independence.

The town was soon after abandoned in 1923, but over 500 houses and several Greek Orthodox churches still remain in Kayaköy today.

In recent years, several organic farmers and craftsmen have returned to the eerily quiet town of Kayaköy, and there are hopes to one day revive the old abandoned town – although many buildings were damaged severely in 1957 during the Fethiye earthquake.

About the Author

Peter Sarmas is a Certified Property Investment Advisor (PIAA) and Vendor/Buyer Advocate. Before becoming the founder of Street News, Peter completed a Degree in Applied Science (Chemistry) and a Graduate Diploma in Property Valuations (Hons). Peter believes property investing is a major and potentially risky undertaking. In his view, everyone should have an independent person acting on their behalf when seeking property investment advice.

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