Many places featured below were once bustling communities but now lie empty and forgotten. Others have been left untouched since they fell into disrepair decades ago.
Still, others were built entirely within the last decade. Regardless of age, many ghostly sites still hold intrigue and beauty. Here are the 30 most striking examples of urban decay across the planet.
On May 8th, 1945, Allied forces liberated this town in France. Afterward, President DeGaulle decided to build a museum here. Today, visitors still flock to see the ruins of this once-thriving community.
In Italy, this town was once famous for its wine and olive oil production but today only has around 30 inhabitants. During World War II, many villagers fled due to bombings and earthquakes. Afterward, they decided to move elsewhere in search of better opportunities. However, after decades of living abroad, they returned to find no trace of their homes.
This tiny village was once called Texola, but after Oklahoma gained independence from Texas, the name changed to reflect the new borderline. Today, just 35 residents call Texola home. They include the sheriff, a post office worker, and a few farmers.
There used to be a bank, too, until it burned down during Prohibition. There’s a barbershop, gas station, grocery store, and a few houses. And there’s still plenty of time left before Route 66 ends at I-40.
Hashima Island, Japan
In Japan, many islands around the country were once thriving cities, towns, and villages before they disappeared due to mining operations. One of these places is Yaku Island, located just south of Nagasaki City.
Its history dates back over 500 years ago, but today only remnants of those days remain. However, thanks to the UNESCO designation, the future looks bright for this little land. Could it become another “Lost Paradise”?
In 16th century India, the city of Mandu was built using stone blocks weighing over 10 tons each. These massive stones were transported hundreds of miles across the country to develop its many impressive buildings.
Today, only a few hundred visitors per year visit the site. One of those lucky ones? We did. Our trek through the ruins took us past towering columns, ornately carved walls, and intricate carvings. While there wasn’t much left standing after centuries of neglect, the remains still provide insight into life during the Mughals’ time here.
In April 1986, a series of explosions at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station released radioactive material into the atmosphere. The release contaminated vast areas of land and water, including much of Europe. People living within 30 kilometers of the plant were evacuated; however, many nearby towns remained inhabited until 1989.
In the early 20th century, Chile’s desert city of San Pedro de Atacama lost its population due to the discovery of large deposits of Potassium Nitrate. A chemical compound used to manufacture explosives during World War I. Today, the town has only around 2,400 inhabitants.
Bodie, located just north of Reno, NV, is the only ghost town in the United States. Initially founded in 1859, Bodie grew into a thriving mining community until the gold rush died down in 1860. After being abandoned for over 150 years, Bodie has been preserved thanks to the work of the Bodie Foundation.
Today visitors can tour the historic buildings, including the original schoolhouse, church, hotel, saloon, jail, post office, bank, doctor’s house, blacksmith shop, cemetery, and many more structures.
This project started as a high-end residential complex but has struggled since its opening due to poor economic performance. There were original plans to build ten thousand homes there. However, only 2,000 have moved into the building at present. Most of those living there work outside the city center.
Copehill Down, Wiltshire, England
Copehill Down is a mock town near RAF Halton Moor, Buckinghamshire, UK. It has been used since the 1950s for training purposes. There were original plans to build a genuine version of Copehill Down at another location nearby, but these never came to fruition.
Glenrio, New Mexico
Glenrio – a former railroad town – sits on the Texas/New Mexico border along Route 66. Despite being a ghost town, in 2007, its historic district consisting of 16 buildings was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Glenrio Welcome Center opened two years later, complete with modern amenities. There are no residents left, though; portions of The Grapes Of Wrath movie were shot here, and the old gas station has been turned into a museum.
Tawergha was once Libya’s largest city before being overrun during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. After Gaddafi’s death, however, many Libyans fled the country due to violence and instability. Now, just over 500 inhabitants are living in makeshift shelters near Tripoli.
Centralia was once a bustling community of approximately 1,200 people living near a massive underground coal seam fire. Today, there are only seven remaining residents. For decades, the underground fire has spewed smoke into the air above, but no one knows precisely why it continues to burn. State officials declare Centralia “condemned” 30 years after the fire started, and residents say they don’t plan to leave anytime soon.
Varosha became a ghost town after Turkey took control of it following the invasion in 1974. Only a few buildings remain standing; they were built before World War II, but many have fallen into ruins. No shops or businesses are left open, and there is little evidence of life outside the occasional police car driving through.
Even though it’s off-limits to visitors, locals still live here. Many families moved back in the 1970s when the Turks occupied the island. They stayed behind until 1999, when Cypriot troops returned to the city. Since then, the population has grown again, although it remains low compared to other cities in Cyprus. Most residents work elsewhere and commute each morning to jobs in Nicosia.
Cody, British Columbia
North America has been experiencing a boom in gold production since 2011. However, many towns across Canada and the United States have declined due to mine closures. One example is the city of Goldfield, Nevada, with a population of 730 at its peak in 1930 but only 40 today. Another is Cody, Montana, once home to 2,500 miners but just 30 today.
North Brother Island, New York
Riverside Park was once a quarantine facility for infectious diseases during the 1960s. After years of neglect, the park has become a haven for wildlife, including American eagles, ospreys, and white pelicans. Although the city government manages the land, there haven’t been any plans to develop the site into anything besides nature.
Plymouth was once a thriving fishing port located along the coast of Antigua & Barbuda. Today, only ruins remain. During the mid-1990s, Mount Vlei erupted, causing massive flooding in nearby villages. Many villagers fled the island, never returning. Nowadays, there are no permanent inhabitants left in Plymouth.
Despite its breathtaking architecture and gorgeous views of Italy, many towns were abandoned due to severe land instability caused by earthquakes and heavy rainfall. Only around 6,500 residents remain today. However, there is hope for these ghost towns. Scientists say they could become livable again within 20 years.
Kennecott, Alaska, once boasted over 4,500 residents. Most were employed directly by the copper mine located there. By 1938, however, the mines had closed down, and today only a few buildings remain standing. Wrangell-St. Elias National Monument now protects the site.
Kolmanskop was once a bustling diamond trading center. Today, tourists flock here to see its unique architecture and history. However, Kolmanskop has been abandoned since the late 1800s due to the discovery of another large diamond deposit near the original site.
There is little chance of revival for the old mining town. Most of the buildings are now empty shells, but they still stand tall against the backdrop of the surrounding desert landscape.
In 2008, the Spanish government approved plans to develop 13,500 homes in the village of Seseña, located near Madrid. However, after years of delays and cost overruns, only 2,100 houses have been built. Now, the number of residents has dropped below 5,000.
Cahawba was once the largest town in Alabama, but after several devastating floods over the past 200 years, its population dwindled to just 500 people. Today, visitors can see the old homes and buildings left behind by those early settlers.
Ruby was once a thriving mining community, but its population dwindled after World War II. Nowadays, visitors can explore over 20 dilapidated structures like the old schoolhouse, water tower, and fire station. For only 12 bucks per adult, admission includes access to the site.
Wittenoom, Western Australia
Wittenoom has been left behind since its heyday in the 1950s and 60s. Today, only a handful of people live there; they’re hoping for better times ahead.
Kayakoy has been inhabited since ancient times; however, its history dates back much further. During World War II, the village was destroyed, but now only a few remnants remain. You may remember seeing the movie ‘Water Dividers’ filmed here in 2014.
Kilamba New City, Angola
In 2017, Angolan President João Lourenço announced plans to build a new city called Nova Lisboa, but he hasn’t provided any details about its location or population projections. However, according to experts, creating a whole new city would cost around 2 billion dollars. That’s why most residents haven’t made a move. Only 80,000 people live there now.
Al’Ula, Saudi Arabia
Al Ulla – 450 km north of Makkah – has been abandoned since the 1980s due to migration to another city. Once the capital of the Lihyanite tribe, this bustling metropolis now lies empty.
In recent decades, Armenia has been caught up in conflict over its territory with Azerbaijan. Over 120,000 Armenians fled after clashes broke out in 1990, but many still live in fear.
One place they don’t dare return to is the historic city of Khojaly, whose Armenian population was wiped out during the war. Today, only around 300 families remain – mostly older women and children.
This ghost town was created after World War II by Russian POWs forced to mine coal here. However, due to political changes within Russia, one of these mines shut down in 1992.
That same year, a massive underground gas explosion destroyed much of the town, leaving only a few homes standing today. Now there are no residents left at the site.
In Austria, there are many towns whose history goes back thousands of years. One such place is Döllersheim, located near the German border. Residents were evacuated during World War II, but the community has been uninhabited since 1945. Today visitors can explore its historic buildings, including a church dating back to 1153 AD.