1. Pompeii, Italy
The ancient city of Pompeii was a large Roman town in the Italian region of Campania which was completely buried along with its inhabitants after the eruption of a nearby volcano at Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. The town was excavated in the 19th and 20th century CE and due to the amazing state of preservation, it managed to provide a terrific insight into the Roman world of that time. Pompeii is perhaps one of the richest archeological sites in the world with fascinating artifacts like colorful carved frescos and graffiti along with sophisticated plumbing facilities dug up from the ruins. The excavations also revealed the essence of life in A.D. 79, with things like at-home first aid equipment and tiny barbecues.
Pompeii remains one of the most fascinating abandoned places in the world and its ruins continue to amaze people even today.
2. Hashima Island, Japan
About nine miles from the city of Nagasaki in Japan, you will find the abandoned island of Hashima. Once upon a time, the island was the site of a famous coal-mining operation and housed more than 5,000 people. However, the place was abandoned in 1974 when its entire coal was depleted. While the island is only 16 acres (6.3 hectares) in area, you can still find forgotten signs of human occupation in the form of seawalls, multi-story buildings, and an abandoned shrine. However, with each passing year, the buildings are crumbling here and nature is flourishing.
Hashima island opened to tourism in 2009 and in 2015, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you can’t visit the island in person, you can enter this forgotten world via Google Earth.
3. Pripyat, Ukraine
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 caused the release of 5 percent of the reactor's radioactive core and its gruesome impact sent shockwaves all over the world. According to the World Nuclear Association, 28 people died because of acute radiation sickness caused by the nuclear disaster in the next few weeks. The power plant was located near the now-abandoned city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, and it is estimated that almost 45,000 people had to leave overnight following the nuclear explosion. Eventually, more than 220,000 people had to be evacuated from the contaminated zone around the plant.
Today, you can find abandoned homes, schools and a fairground left to decay in Pripyat, reminding us of the grim history of the town. Nature, however, has found its way inside with wolves, moose, and wild boar found roaming there frequently.
4. Kolmanskop, Namibia
From the outside, it looks like the set of an eerie horror movie. However, the desert town of Kolmanskop in Namibia has an interesting history. It was once one of the richest towns in Africa during a diamond boom in 1910 after diamonds were discovered in the region. Kolmanskop was built by the Germans as a small railway station in 1908 when the railway between Lüderitz and Keetmanshoop was built. In its early days, Kolmanskop flourished as the occurrence of diamonds found here became known. There was incredible development in a very short period here and from 1911 the town saw great advancement in infrastructure.
However, by the 1920s the diamond mines of Kolmanskop began drying up and new deposits were uncovered in other places. Within the next decade, all the mining activities were discontinued and the machinery was taken south. The town was left to its own and the last inhabitant left Kolmanskop between 1956 and 1960.
The desert town is now open to tourism and you can still discover the unique architecture here, with arched windows and wrought-iron railings.
5. Sanzhi UFO Houses, Taiwan
The Sanzhi UFO Houses of Japan were a set of abandoned pod-shaped buildings that were put up in the late 1970s as a trendy resort on the northern tip of the country. The resort, also known as “Sanzhi UFO Pod City”, was marketed towards U.S. military officers coming from their East Asian postings. Unfortunately, due to investment losses and several fatal car accidents during construction, the project was abandoned.
The curious-looking buildings were torn down in 2010 despite several online petitions to preserve one of the structures as a museum. While the buildings were never finished and were eventually demolished, they stood deserted for nearly three decades and their cheery pink and yellow colors along with their futuristic extraterrestrial look really made them stand out and had fascinated people for years.
6. Tyneham, England
The quaint and beautiful Tyneham in England has been an abandoned ghost village since the Second World War. Situated near Lulworth on the Isle of Purbeck, Tyneham was a tiny yet happy town of 225 residents till 1943. In November that year, a notice was given to the villagers that they would be required to leave within 28 days as the area was needed for forces’ training. It was a major sacrifice the locals had to make for the war effort but eventually by 17 December 1943, the last villagers left Tyneham with the hope that they would one day be able to return. Unfortunately, that day never arrived.
Even today, Tyneham is a part of the Army Rangers though tourists can visit the place on most weekends and public holidays. Sadly, only the church and schoolhouse remain intact here today with most other structures of the pretty-looking abandoned village in ruins.
7. Humberstone, Chile
Humberstone is a former mining town in the Atacama Desert, located a few hundred kilometers from Chile's borders with Peru and Bolivia. During the late 1800s, Chile witnessed an extraordinary rush of salt and almost all the saltpeter in the world came from the Atacama Desert during that period. Humberstone, founded in 1872, was one of the dozens of saltpeter towns that flourished then. Originally known as La Palma, Humberstone was home to around 3,500 people in its prime. Many saltpeter diggers and refiners and their families lived here and thrived till the late 1800s.
However, during World War I, the Allied powers stopped Germany from importing saltpeter. In response, the Germans developed synthetic fertilizers. Because of this, the value of saltpeter began diminishing rapidly and soon the residents had to leave Humberstone. Within years it became a ghost town and no one has lived or worked here for half a century. Curiously, though, the dry desert air has preserved many of the town's buildings, including a famous old company store.
8. Oradour-Sur-Glane, France
The once charming village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in Haute-Vienne, France, is a tragic casualty of World War II. In what was one of the most horrific days in world history, this little town was destroyed by the Waffen SS in 1944. On June 10 that year, Nazi forces entered the village and massacred 642 men, women, and children. They then set the village on fire, leaving only a handful of people alive.
Once the war was over, France decided to leave the village as it was a terrible reminder of the massacre that had happened there. In 1999, a memorial (Centre de la Mémoire) was constructed to commemorate those that were slain on that fateful day in Oradour-Sur-Glane. Visitors often come here to catch a glimpse of its harrowing past where you can still find abandoned buildings and the execution sites. There is also a crypt in the village containing artifacts like watches and clocks that stopped at the time of the terrible fires.
9. Mandu, India
Mandu is an abandoned city of ruins from India's Mughal era, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Perched on a forested hilltop with a flowing river below, Mandu was the capital city of a northern Indian Muslim state and was a flourishing fortress town teeming with royal palaces, tombs, mosques, and monuments. However, the town hasn’t thrived within the last 400 years and today it is mostly comprised of an expanse of farmers’ fields apart from its ancient and scattered ruins.
Interestingly, its lavish architectures remain intact, showing the incredibly sturdy construction from the era. While no people are living in these structures, Mandu still enthralls visitors with its ruins and extraordinary heritage sites like temples, tombs, and multiple palaces. The most famous site of this preserved town is perhaps Jahaz Mahal, or Ship Palace, which is built between two artificial lakes.