Some ghost towns have now been turned into tourist attractions, however, others might be dangerous or illegal to visit. Here are some of the most fascinating ghost towns from around the world.
1. KOLMANSKOP (Namibia): Buried in sand
The ghost town Kolmanskop in southern Namibia, is a few kilometres inland from the port of Lüderitz. Diamond fever struck Luederitz in 1908, and people started pouring into the Namib desert hoping to make an easy fortune. In just 2-years, a town, complete with a casino, school, hospital and exclusive residential buildings, was established in the barren sandy desert.
However, shortly after diamond sales dropped in the aftermath of the First World War, the beginning of the end started. During the 1950s the town was completely abandoned and reduced to ruins — 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.
Some old buildings are still standing and some interiors for example the theatre is still in very good condition. However, the rest are crumbling ruins demolished from grandeur to ghost towns (houses).
2. PRYPIAT (Ukraine): Chernobyl workers’ home
The abandoned city Prypiat in the “zone of alienation” in northern Ukraine was home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers. It was abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. The population before the accident was about 50,000. The site until recently was practically a museum, documenting the late Soviet era. Apartment buildings (four of which were brand new constructions not yet occupied), swimming pools, hospitals and other buildings were all forsaken, and things lying inside the buildings were left behind, including records, papers, TVs, children’s toys, furniture, valuables, and clothing, etc. that any normal family would have with them.
The only belongings residents were allowed to take away included: a suitcase full of documents, books and clothes that were not contaminated. Nonetheless, in the start of the 21st century, most of the apartment buildings were almost completely looted. Nothing of value was spared – even toilet seats were taken away. Through the years many of the building interiors have been vandalized and ransacked. Roofs have now started leaking, and in the spring the rooms are flooded with water. Trees are growing abundantly on roofs and even inside buildings.
3. SAN ZHI (Taiwan): a futuristic resort
This futuristic pod village North of Taiwan was at first built as a luxury vacation retreat for the rich. Nonetheless, after a series of fatal accidents during construction, production was stopped. Due to lack of money and lack of willingness the work finally came to a complete standstill, and the alien like structures remain as if in remembrance of those lost. According to rumors floating around, the city is now haunted by the ghosts of those who died.
After this the government tried its best to cover-up things, and was keen to distance itself from the bizarre happenings. Thanks to government efforts, there are no named architects, and thanks to the growing legend, the project may never be restarted. One possible reason why re-development of the area would not be of any real value is that, destroying homes of lonely spirits is a bad thing to do.
4. CRACO (Italy): a fascinating medieval town
Craco lies in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera. Roughly 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. This Gothic town is typical of those in the area, built up with long undulating hills all around, conducive for growing wheat and other crops. In 1060 all the land around Craco was owned by Archbishop Arnaldo, Bishop of Tricarico. So the Church has had much influence over the inhabitants throughout the ages.
In 1891 Craco was inhabited by over 2,000 people. Though the problems then were manifold, with poor agricultural conditions creating desperate times. Between 1892 and 1922 over 1,300 people left the town, and moved to North America. Then in 1963 the 1,800 inhabitants which were left, were transferred to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera, and the original Craco remains in a state of crumbling decay to this day.
5. ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE (France): the horror of WWII
Oradour-sur-Glane, France, a small village is truly a setting of unspeakable horror. In the course of World War II, 642 residents were slaughtered by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance. The Germans had at first intended to target nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres and accidentally invaded Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10th 1944. Survivor recount, that 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. Later Germans demolished the village. Its ruins still stand today as a memorial to the dead and a reminder of the events that took place.
6. GUNKANJIMA (Japan): the forbidden island
Around 505 islands are lying uninhabited in the Nagasaki Prefecture of Japan about 15 kilometers from Nagasaki itself. GUNKANJIMA is one of them. It’s also called “Gunkan-jima” or Battleship Island thanks to its high sea walls. It came into existence in 1890 when a company called Mitsubishi bought the island and started a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. Owing to the kind of attention it attracted, in 1916 the company was forced to build Japan’s first large concrete building on the island. A block of apartments that would both lodge the seas of workers and protect them from hurricanes.
In 1959 the population exploded reaching a density of 835 people per hectare for the whole island (1,391 per hectare for the residential district) – one of the highest population densities ever recorded worldwide. In Japan in the 1960s petroleum replaced coal and coal mines began shutting down; so, in 1974 Mitsubishi officially announced the closing of the mine, and today it is empty and bare. The 2003 film ‘Battle Royale II’ was shot in this island, and it also inspired the final level of popular Asian videogame “Killer7″.
7. KADYKCHAN (Russia): memories of the Soviet Union
Kadykchan is a Russian city that fell into ruin when the Soviet Union collapsed. Residents had to gain access to amenities like running water, schools and medical care, so they were forced to move. State moved them and provided new housing in other towns. Once a tin mining town of 12,000 people, the city is now desolate. The residents left in a hurry, so you can now find aging toys, books, clothing and other objects throughout the empty city.
8. KOWLOON WALLED CITY (China): A lawless city
The Kowloon Walled City was built in the outskirts of Hong Kong, China during British rule. Originally a watchpost to protect the area against pirates, it was taken over by Japan during World War II and later taken over by squatters after Japan’s surrender. Unwillingness of both Britain & China to take responsibility for it, turned it into a lawless city.
People lived there for decades, with residents constructing labyrinthine corridors above the street level, which was clogged with trash. As the buildings grew taller, and taller, sunlight stopped reaching the bottom levels and the entire city had to be illuminated with fluorescent lights. Unchecked by authorities brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlors, food courts serving dog meat and secret factories thrived in the city. Finally the city was torn down in 1993 after a mutual decision was made by British and Chinese authorities.
9. FAMAGUSTA (Cyprus): once a top tourist destination, now is one of the ghost towns
Varosha is a settlement in the unrecognised Republic of Northern Cyprus; before Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974, it was the modern tourist area of the city of Famagusta. Today it’s one of the ghost towns. In the 1970s the city was a buzzing tourist destination in Cyprus – and seeing regular influx of tourists, many new high-rise buildings and hotels were constructed there.
After taking over the area Turkish Army, fenced it off and have since refused admittance to anyone except Turkish military and United Nations personnel. No repairs have been carried out here for 34 years, so buildings are gradually falling apart. Nature is reclaiming the area, as metal corrodes, windows break, and plants work their roots into the walls and pavements. The deserted beaches have become living area of sea turtles.
10. AGDAM (Azerbaijan): once a 150,000 city of people, now lost
Agdam, Azerbaijan the eerie city was once a thriving city of 150,000 people. The 1993 Nagorno Karabakh war destroyed the city; though it was never the setting of combat, it fell victim to vandalism while occupied by Armenians. The buildings are ransacked and empty, and the only intact structure is the graffiti-covered mosque. The locals have moved to other areas of Azerbaijan, as well as into Iran. (Source)