There’s something magnetic about abandoned places. The remnants of the lives they once contained can be both intriguing and haunting. If you’re looking to explore some of the world’s coolest abandoned places, check out the list below:
Hashima Island (Gunkanjima), Japan
Hashima Island can be found about 15km southwest of Nagasaki. Also known as Gunkanjima (‘battleship island’), Hashima Island was bought by the Mitsubishi company in 1890 for use as a coal mining base. For a while, Hashima Island was the most densely populated place on Earth with more than 5,000 people living within its borders. Though the decline of the mining industry meant that the island was deserted in 1974, you’ll still find all the infrastructure which housed coal miners, their families and, for a short time, prisoners of war. Take a tour of the island and find vacant restaurants, multi-storey apartment blocks, and other decaying structures.
Chernobyl: no longer the name of a landmark but the name of an event. In 1989, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history. Following an explosion in Reactor No.4 on the 26th of April, 116,000 people were evacuated from the city of Pripyat. To this day, an exclusion zone of 30km reaches in every direction. As the residents of Pripyat were told the evacuation would only last three days, most personal belongings were left behind. Children’s toys lie scattered on kindergarten floors and cars sit parked on empty streets; grass, trees, and weeds now push through every corner of the abandoned city. Experts estimate that it will take approximately 200 years before Pripyat is safe to live in again.
Craco has a long and rich history, with evidence of civilised life stretching back until at least the 8th century. This medieval town includes a castle, a university, a church, and several plazas. In the late 19th century, poor agricultural conditions led to a severe famine which forced many of Craco’s inhabitants to migrate to the USA. Eventually, this terrain would prove to be insurmountable; between 1950 and 1980, landslides, flooding, and a devastating earthquake were the final nails in Craco’s coffin. Today, the village sits abandoned on the hillside, visited only by tourists and the families of those who once lived there.
Spreepark (Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin), Germany
Built in 1969, Spreepark was the only amusement park in East Germany. After initial success, ticket sales began to dwindle and Spreepark was declared bankrupt in 2001. Although the park’s owners managed to smuggle six attractions out of the country, most of the park’s rides remain. Every now and then, curious travellers sneak into the park for the chance to glimpse its rusted ferris wheel, rotting swan boats, moss-covered log ride, and motionless roller coasters.
Plymouth is the capital city of Montserrat, a small British territory in the West Indies. In just the last 20 years, Plymouth has earned the nickname ‘Pompeii of the Caribbean’, due to events which have seen it meet a similar fate to the ancient Roman town. In 1995, Plymouth was evacuated when nearby Soufrière Hills volcano—previously thought to be dormant—began erupting. Although residents began returning just a few months later, an enormous eruption in 1997 killed 19 people and buried the city in ash, mud and debris. With most of the town destroyed and an exclusion zone preventing anyone from returning, today Plymouth stands frozen in time.
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