These places were once filled with a lot of people living their lives. Abandoned for different reasons, now they look more like ghost towns or even the set of some horror movie. The mysterious remains of these formerly crowded and noisy locations can provoke fear, curiosity, and excitement all at the same time.
Here are 15 excellent examples of mysterious & abandoned places around the world that offer a glimpse into what the world without humans would look like and the reasons (sometimes tragic and sad) behind their departure.
The ghost town of Bodie in California, USA
The town was officially founded in 1876 when miners discovered rich deposits of gold and silver here. In search of wealth and a better life, people flooded into the small town. Soon the place earned the reputation of ‘sin city,’ full of brothels and hip joints. Subsequently, Bodie went bankrupt, and by the 1940s it became a real ghost town. Currently, it is considered to be one of the best well-preserved ghost towns in the world. It is also reputed to be a “ghost” town in another sense: Some claim, according to a TV documentary, that Bodie is inhabited by ghosts who guard the town against pilferers. Supposedly, a visitor who dares to remove any artifact can be plagued by the dreaded “Curse of Bodie.”
Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, USA
The Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, is a former American prison in Philadelphia. It was operational from 1829 until 1971. Notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. At its completion, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.
The prison is currently a U.S. National Historic Landmark, which is open to the public as a museum for guided tours and art exhibitions.
Czestochowa railway station, Poland
Part of the Kingdom of Prussia and the expanding Russian Empire from the late 18th century until the outbreak of World War One, the city of Czestochowa entered the 20th century as one of the leading industrial centers of Russian Poland. Its success was in part due to the opening of the Warsaw-Vienna Railway in 1846, which linked the city to the rest of Europe.
Today, this abandoned railway station is one of the most mysterious places you can visit in Europe. And with six railway stations, it’s little wonder that a train depot or two should become abandoned along the sprawling network.
The ghost tower of Sathorn, Thailand
Sathorn Tower is an unfinished skyscraper in the Thai capital city of Bangkok. Planned as a high-rise condominium complex, construction of the building was halted during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, when it was already about 80 percent complete. Currently, plans concerning Sathorn Tower remain uncertain: experts have shown that to reconstruct the tower now will cost much more than to build a new one. Moreover, the tower has the reputation of a haunted building. It is now among the most prominent of Bangkok’s many derelict buildings and has become a destination for urban explorers.
North Brother Island, USA
North Brother Island, the 13-acre piece of land that once housed a quarantine hospital, has long been a source of fascination for urban explorers and history nerds. Abandoned since the early 1960s, the island and its crumbling medical structures, famous for housing Typhoid Mary, have been taken over by nature.
With little or no vandalism by people, everything has been left to decay naturally. In some buildings, trees have rooted indoors and on some of the roofs. This place is now uninhabited and designated as a bird sanctuary.
The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), Germany
Teufelsberg is a man-made hill in the middle of the Grunewald forest. It stands about 80 meters above the city, and it was named after the Teufelssee (i.e. Devil’s Lake) in its southerly vicinity. The hill is made of rubble and covers an under-construction Nazi military-technical college. During the Cold War, there was a U.S. listening station on the hill, Field Station Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this abandoned building has had many owners. One of them, the famous director David Lynch, even planned to build a ‘Happiness College’ here to house yoga students. However, the authorities of Berlin turned down the proposals.
Miranda Castle, Belgium
Miranda Castle, also known as Château de Noisy is a 19th-century neo-Gothic castle in Celles, Belgium. During the French Revolution, the Count Liedekerke-Beaufort, a Belgian political activist, was forced to leave this castle with his family and move to a neighboring farm.
In 1950, Miranda Castle was renamed “Château de Noisy” when it was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium as an orphanage and also a holiday camp for sick children. In 1991, due to maintenance costs, the castle was abandoned.
Kijong-dong (Peace Village), North Korea
Kijong-dong is a small village located in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. After the ceasefire in 1953, the government of North Korea decided to use Kijong-dong as a propaganda tool: since it is the only town which can be seen from the territory of South Korea, it had to look perfect.
Although the North Korean authorities have given assurances that ordinary citizens live in the village, close examination shows that the houses have no glass in their windows and are uninhabited. Lights in the village are all lit simultaneously at a particular time of day. Is this a fake town?
In the 1920s the US industrialist Henry Ford wanted to found a city based on the values that made his company a success – while, of course, producing cheap rubber. Henry Ford’s goal was not simply to ship latex back to the company’s Dearborn HQ – it was to build his vision of the ideal city. And that city would bear his name: Fordlandia.
However, the locals weren’t happy with the Henry Ford’s idea and refused to accept a ban on alcohol. Brazilian workers and American industrialists seemed to be in a permanent state of conflict over the issue, and in 1930, the native workers revolted in one of the town’s cafeterias. They threw the cars into the river and chased away the managers into the jungle. After that, the city was abandoned for good.
Abandoned movie theater, Sinai desert
Somewhere on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, nestled at the foot of a desert mountain range, sits an odd sight that is almost completely out of place: hundreds of seats for an outdoor movie theater. The theater was built by a rich man from France. One day he was hanging out in the Sinai desert with his friends and decided that the one thing the place was missing was … a movie theater. Long story short, tons of old seats and a generator were hauled in from Cairo, including a giant screen that looked like the sail of a ship. Everything was set for opening night; however, the locals didn’t like the idea for some reason and sabotaged the generator. Not a single movie was ever screened. So now it sits in the middle of a desert, a forgotten movie theater that was never used.
In the 1970s, Famagusta was the number one tourist destination in Cyprus. Many new high-rise buildings and hotels were constructed because of the increasing number of visitors. Varosha was a favorite destination of celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot.
Everything changed in August 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied its northern part. 15,000 residents of Varosha fled in fear of a massacre, leaving behind their houses and other possessions. Most of them planned to come back soon, but the political situation remained tense, making it impossible to return to their homes.
Discovery Island, USA
A small island in the middle of Lake Buena Vista, Discovery Island was a Disney amusement park in Florida. Once, some dangerous bacteria was found in the waters of Bay Lake, and the park was closed (in July 1999). It has remained abandoned ever since.
Located in the middle of Bay Lake and 300 feet away from the shore of the city, the 11-acre abandoned Discovery Island remains – and with it some of the life it housed when it was operating in decades past.
Holy Land theme park, Connecticut, USA
In 1958, John Greco built a religious theme park in Waterbury, Connecticut, inspired by selected passages from the Bible. Among the attractions at the site were a recreation of the Garden of Eden, a diorama depicting Daniel in the lions’ den, and various recreations of the life and ministry of Jesus. The centerpiece of the site was a 56-foot (17 m) cross and an illuminated sign that read “Holy Land USA.”
During its peak years in the 1960s and 1970s, Holy Land USA attracted upwards of 40,000 visitors annually. Greco closed Holy Land USA in 1984, with plans to improve and expand the site. But the work was left unfinished when Greco died two years later. The park never opened again.
The Orpheum Theater in Massachusetts, USA
The Orpheum Theater in New Bedford is an old abandoned theater in Massachusetts, USA. It was opened in 1912 and closed in 1959. The back of the theater currently houses a supermarket, but the rest of the space is still empty.
The SS American Star wrecked on a beach at Fuerteventura, the Canary Islands
In the first few days while the vessel was still intact it was quite easy to gain access to the ship, and ladders were even welded to her sides by the Spanish Army. But since she broke in two it is inadvisable to try and board the ship. Although she looks temptingly close, the currents in this area are incredibly strong, and sharp debris still lurks beneath the surface. Tragically at least eight people have died swimming to and exploring the wreck.