There are many reasons why cities are abandoned. Some, like the ghost towns of the American West, have become tourist destinations while others have been condemned or simply forgotten.

These 20 abandoned cities of the world share an eerie, haunted quality that is part of what makes them so fascinating.



1. The Kowloon Walled City was located just outside Hong Kong, China during British rule.

A former watchpost to protect the area against pirates, it was occupied by Japan during World War II and subsequently taken over by squatters after Japan’s surrender.

Neither Britain nor China wanted responsibility for it, so it became its own lawless city.

Its population flourished for decades, with residents building labyrinthine corridors above the street level, which was clogged with trash.

The buildings grew so tall that sunlight couldn’t reach the bottom levels and the entire city had to be illuminated with fluorescent lights.

It was a place where brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlors, food courts serving dog meat and secret factories ran unmolested by authorities.

It was finally torn down in 1993 after a mutual decision was made by British and Chinese authorities, who had finally grown wary of the unsanitary, anarchic city and its out-of-control population.



2. The small village of Oradour-sur-Glane, France, is the setting of unspeakable horror.

During World War II, 642 residents were massacred by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance.

The Germans had initially intended to target nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres and mistakenly invaded Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10th 1944.

According to a survivor’s account, the men were herded into barns where they were shot in the legs so they would die more slowly.

The women and children, who had been held in a church, all perished when their attempt to escape was met by machine-gun fire.

The village was razed by the Germans afterward. Its ruins still stand today as a memorial to the dead and a reminder of the events that took place.



3. Kolmanskop is a small town located a few miles inland from the port of Lüderitz in Namibia.

Windswept sand has made its way into nearly every building in the town, which was once a diamond mining town and abandoned in 1956 as diamond demand declined and richer sources of diamonds were discovered in other areas.

Its only residents are now birds, hyenas and other animals.



4. Humberstone, Chile was a booming town from the 1920s until the early ‘40s, enjoying the wealth and prosperity that came from mining and processing nitrate, also known as saltpeter.

Once synthetic saltpeter was invented, the town began to decline and experienced a slow outpouring of residents until it finally lay empty in 1961.

Since then, the blowing sand from surrounding deserts has made its way into the remaining buildings, which still house machinery and furniture.

The town has been named a World Heritage Site and will likely be preserved as a historical monument.



5. Wittenoom, Australia was once home to 20,000 people in its mining heyday.

The asbestos mining town effectively shut down after the health risks of asbestos became clear in the ‘60s, and 1,000 residents died of asbestos-related illnesses.

The remaining residents left, aside from the 8 people who still live there today.

The city is littered with the blue fibers of asbestos, which can be seen in the bottom left photo above.



6. Only 30 minutes from the south side of Chicago lies Gary, Indiana, established as a company town for U.S. Steel in 1906.

When the steel industry took a downturn in the ‘60s, the town became depressed and has never recovered.

Gary, which has oft received the dubious honor of the murder capital of the U.S., is beginning to see signs of revitalization and is still home to thousands of people, but by the looks of its downtown area you’d never know it.



7. Ruby, Arizona is one of the best preserved ghost towns in Arizona, but you can only gain access to it by helping in the restoration effort.

It was founded as a mining camp, producing mostly copper, lead and zinc. At its peak in the mid ‘30s, Ruby’s population reached 1,200.

The population diminished after the mine was closed in the ‘50s. The few buildings that remain include the jail, a schoolhouse, mine offices and a handful of homes.



8. The eerie city of Agdam, Azerbaijan was once a thriving city of 150,000 people.

It was lost in 1993 during the Nagorno Karabakh war; though the city was never the setting of combat, it fell victim to vandalism while occupied by Armenians.

The buildings are gutted and empty, with only the graffiti-covered mosque remaining intact.

Agdam residents have moved to other areas of Azerbaijan, as well as into Iran.



9. Bodie State Historic Park in California is one of the many gold-mining ghost towns in the American West. The town of Bodie once had 10,000 residents during the gold rush; the last of its residents left during the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Only a small part of the town still stands today, but what remains has been well preserved. Interiors remain as they were when Bodie became a National Historic Site in 1962, with goods stacked on the shelves.

Bodie is now frequented by tourists, but its ghost town atmosphere is intact – there are no commercial facilities in the area.



10. Located south of Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Mandu was once the capital city of a northern Indian Muslim state and has lain abandoned for over 400 years.

The ancient city takes up a large plateau just above the Narmada River and is home to a dazzling array of ruins, including a royal palace and a mosque. The Nil Kanth Palace is an important pilgrimage point for devotees of the Hindu goddess Shiva.

Today, the city’s only residents are gypsy tribes who live on the hilltop plateau.



11. Kadykchan was one of many small Russian cities that fell into ruin when the Soviet Union collapsed. Residents were forced to move to gain access to services like running water, schools and medical care.

The state moved them out over a period of two weeks, and they were taken to other towns and provided with new housing.

Once a tin mining town of 12,000 people, the city is now desolate. In their hurry to leave, residents left their belongings behind in their homes, so you can now find aging toys, books, clothing and other objects throughout the empty city.



12. The small town of Cody was established in what has been called the ‘Valley of the Ghosts’ in British Columbia in the 1890s during the silver boom.

Named after silver prospector Henry Cody, the town was expected by residents at the time to surpass other nearby towns in size and greatness.

At the pinnacle of its success, though, Cody only had 150 residents, and when the town failed to attract more people it was deserted in 1910.



13. Balestrino, Italy is just as picturesque as many other medieval Italian towns, with its stunning hilltop location 70 km southeast of Genoa.

Once owned by the Benedictine abbey of San Pietro dei Monti, Balestrino began losing its population in the late 19th century as earthquakes struck the region and damaged property.

In 1953, the town was abandoned due to ‘geological instability’.

The part of the town that has remained untouched since that time is currently undergoing planning for redevelopment, so it won’t remain abandoned for much longer.



14. Once home to 2200 residents, Times Beach, Missouri stood empty and condemned for over a decade. It’s the site of one of America’s worst pollution disasters.

From 1972 to 1976, city officials had waste oil sprayed on the unpaved roads to alleviate a dust problem.

Unfortunately, that waste oil contained dioxin, a toxic carcinogen and component of Agent Orange.

The dioxin permeated the soil and flooding further spread it through the town. After a long cleanup effort, the town has been reborn as Route 66 State park.



15. Deception Island is located in the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula.

One of the area’s only safe harbors, Deception Island offered a refuge from storms and was also the site of several research stations and whaling operations.

Many buildings have been abandoned there due both to a decline in the use of whale oil and a volcanic eruption in 1969.

The volcano has made it an unpopular location, but Spain and Argentina still have summer-only research stations there.



16. Tyneham is referred to as ‘the village that Dorset lost’. During World War II, the Ministry of Defence took over this town on the Isle of Purbeck in south England for use as an army base.

Citizens were promised their homes back after the war ended, but were never allowed back in. It has stood as ghost village ever since, lying in ruins except for the schoolhouse and church that still stand relatively untouched.

Schoolwork still sits on the aging desks, and a sign on the church still reads, ‘Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.’



17. Kayakoy, Turkey was once a thriving Greek village, home to 25,000 people. In 1923, the town was completely deserted when its inhabitants, along with millions of other Greeks in Turkey, were forced out of the country due to the Greek war of independence.

Since then, the village – which had been populated since the 13th century – has stood empty and deteriorating. Kayakoy is the largest and most well preserved ghost village in Asia Minor.



18. The medieval village of Craco, Italy was built on a very steep summit for defensive reasons, in a dry and mostly vegetation-free area in the south of the country.

Over the centuries, this village lost residents due to a plague, French occupation and civil unrest, and finally lost nearly all of its residents between 1892 and 1922 as they fled for America due to poor agricultural conditions.

Earthquakes in the ‘60s forced the remaining occupants out of the city, and it’s now completely uninhabited.



19. Polish officials have been trying to get rid of the village of Klomino for years; it was last on the market for €2 million, but most of its remaining buildings were demolished after lack of interest and locals destroyed what was left.

Klomino is the only official ghost town in Poland, built solely as living quarters for the Russian Army. It has lain empty since the Red Army withdrew its forces in 1992.



20. Pyramiden, Norway was a Russian settlement and coal mining community founded by Sweden and sold to Russia in 1927.

The settlement once had a population of over 1,000 people but has been empty since its owner, the state-owned Soviet company Arctikugol Trust, abandoned it in 1991.

The buildings still stand today exactly as they were when it was still in use.

Tourists can access it for now by snowmobile or boat, but Russia plants to redevelop it soon.


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Comments: 41

Also another thing about Chernobyl/Pripyat, I am currently reading Chernobyl by Frederik Pohl (Historical (somewhat)fiction) and I recommend it to all who are interested in what happened there.

So mad that they forgot Pripyat (And Chernobyl), but at least some people in the comments did.

Wishful thinking
Thanks for the extremely tiny "cell Phone" pictures... You turned something cool into something quite annoying!!!!! sad

I told my kids we'd play after I found what I neeedd. Damnit.

I've documented some of these places in detail. If you wish to take an in-depth look at places like Gunkanjima/Hashima, Pripyat, Kolmanskop and Nouadhibou :

You forgot about Pripyat near Chernobyl ... and the Olympic Village near Berlin is also intresting.


Televison Spy,

kidofspeed is sort of a hoax. She took guided group tours to Pripyat wearing leather jacket and brought a bike to pose for photographs. :/

K³omino is in Poland, read this:

Very interesting post. Thanks for the words and pictures. I'd like to repost it with a link to you here

just amazing

I want to fuck you!

your hun-boo
Love you hun-boo!

Love you Boo!

this this
tongue so cool, wow i want to jerk off in city 11, please

Unbelievable that you would leave Pripyat (sorry, really can't remember the spelling). It was home to like 40,000 people, wasn't just some shitty village.

Another one for your future list:

Picher, Oklahoma,_Oklahoma

I most definatly think Priapat should be on this list. I mean what is #15 a boat dock? I've seen several documentaries on the disaster at Chernobyl and it is so horrific. Humans won't be able to legally inhabit that area in my lifetime or yours. But what nature has overcome is truly amazing. Seeing the trees and flowers growing through the building and the furniture, and everyday things we take for granted. All of that was literally dropped and left by those poor people. They had no warning, took nothing but the clothes on their back and ran. Food still on the table, chairs turned over, toys scattered. Very stunning. Should be #1 on your list.

Chernobyl is just one area that was affected of by the blast, and for the most part the city was just the power plant. The city that most people are thinking of, which i was also surprised was left absent from this list is Pripiat, which was mostly built as a town to house the workers of the power plant and stuff. The city was constructed at the height of Soviet power as one of the more desirable places to live in, but then abandoned in 86 as a result of the chernobyl disaster. Before being evacuated, it's population was over 50,000

No Chernobyl?

Uncle B
Show more U.S.S.R. abandoned stuff - parallel it with the slums of America! Is this happening to us? Why? The U.S.S.R. was supposed to last forever, just like us? Can it happen here? Show the "Rust Belt" the Ohio valley, our deserted factories, smelters mines, and unused warehouses. What is happening here at home? Should we take note? Panic? revolt? How can we stop this "Death of America?" Are we fully informed of the facts?

a terrorist
if it has the population of 1, or turorists travel there, thaen it isnt abandoned.
keep looking.

make some more like a second list or somethingwink

Televison Spy
You missed Chernobyl [link][/link] she apparently took some pictures on her bike going through the area. It's neat to see.

Also you missed hiroshima - a part of it is deserted like the hospital and park but people live around the park and it's basically a modern city built around the main downtown which now is a peace park.
cam - [link][/link]

James A Nichols
Good stuff, I'd like to have a tour of these and others, someone could make a small fortune doing this and charging out the ying-yang to rich tourists to see these!! But make sure you send me some of the royalties since I thought of it first...yeah right!!

There are probably thousands of such cities. Thank you for giving us a sample.

When thinking of such places, I also think of Battleship Island in Japan. Check it out.

What about Chernobyl and the city of Prypiat? That's a big one.

Klomino is in Bialorus not in Poland, check on google earttongue

Just FYI, Shiva is a *god* not a goddess. His erect phallus is worshiped daily in homes across India. He is very, very male.

Hi Tao,

I have a Stumble Upon too,
and though not everything has my likings
I enjoy it. Changing your settings of
interests might give you some new sites.
But who worries about 23 instead of 20/30/10 of? Looking for fresh meat with abandoned cities is much as saying : "more people ought to leave their city in ruins" . Or like many students now seek out their scripts from wikipedia. I think you need to step out of your comfort zone and seek out new territories on your own. Not on internet.

I use the Firefox add-on 'StumbleUpon' - i'm sure many who come by here and many other pages like also do.

I am starting to wonder whether there is a prerequisite of sites such as Blogger and Wordpress that Blogs built with these sites should always contain lists of "34 great uses for old aeroplanes.. or "22 Ghost towns ...or "37 Stop motion photos you have to see... or , well you get the idea, there isn't even lie a top 0 or somesuch rounded number, rather a random assortment in no particular order finishing at the point enthusiasm for the project expired....

I'm not picking on your page in particular, in it's own right and without endless marks for comparison it's a fine page, but it just seems that every other page i 'Stumbleupon' has a collection of well known images laid out in yet another random list... I have for instance seen the images of the Kowloon Walled City (with ever increasingly mythical captions) at least 20 times this year....

not just because i've got too much time on my hands, i'm a columnist in an English newspaper writing on and reviewing new and 'interesting' websites and blogs..

maybe Stumbleupon is no longer the way to find it, but either way ;

we need some fresh meat.

wink centralia still has a couple of people living there...(2) it really does look like the mouth of hell with all the smoke coming out of the ground.

There are hundreds of abandoned Palestinian villages all over Israel. Surrounding Arab governments encouraged the Palestinians to leave while they evicted and erased the Israelis. When the Israelis won, they refused to allow the Palestinians to return. Then their Arab hosts evicted them as well. They ended up in the Gaza Strip.

There are quite a few abandoned fortresses and buildings on isolated islands in the Venetian Lagoon surrounding Venice, Italy. I have often wondered about them.

Curiously there is extremely valuable abandoned property in the heart of New York City. Governor's island is used for training and other things, is cared for, but is essentially abandoned. North Brother Island and South Brother Island are both "off limits" and essentially abandoned. It is unfortunate that they are not on the tax roles.

Thanks for the correction kcarmanwink

Ahh, Gary, IN... the abandoned city with the population of over 100,000

This is so freaky, I want to visit these. You forgot Centralia and Chernobyl!

And Shiva is a man, thus he would be a god, not a goddess.

17. Kayakoy, Turkey was once a thriving Greek village, home to 25-30,000 people. In 1923, as result of population exchange, the town was completely deserted when its inhabitants were forced out of the country due to the Independence Wars of Turkey, during which time 2,5 million Turks from Greece ang Greeks from Turkey were relocated.

Since then, the village – which had been populated since the 13th century – has stood empty and deteriorating. Kayakoy is the largest and most well preserved ghost village in Asia Minor.

These are based upon the historical records. actually forgot Chernobyl. That really amazes me. I thought through the entire list that Chernobyl would be number 1, but it didn't make it at all. I highly recommend that it be added.

"Schoolwork still sits on the aging desks, and a sign on the church still reads, ‘Please treat the church and houses with care; we have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.’"

That is amazingly creepy...

somebody crazy
i hate old cities ...reminds me about my granny!wassat

An interesting look at abandoned cities that aren t very old.

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