Have you ever been curious about what happens to a place after it’s been abandoned? From eerie ghost towns to forgotten prisons, the world is filled with abandoned places that were once bustling with life. They are strange, surreal, and often shrouded in mystery. Some have been left untouched for decades, while others have been transformed into hauntingly beautiful spectacles. Let’s take a closer look at 16 of the most bizarre and captivating abandoned places in the world.
1. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, USA
Eastern State Penitentiary was once one of the most notorious correctional facilities in the world. Built in 1829, the prison was designed to isolate inmates from each other, with each inmate occupying his own cell. The prison was eventually closed in 1971 and has since become a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can explore the empty cells, walk through the crumbling hallways, and even visit Al Capone’s cell, which still contains his personal belongings.
2. Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit, USA
The Lee Plaza Hotel was once a grand Art Deco hotel that attracted some of Detroit’s most affluent residents in its heyday. However, in the mid-1990s, the hotel was abandoned and left to decay. The building has since become a popular spot for urban exploration, with visitors able to wander through its grand ballrooms and once-luxurious suites.
3. Winchester Mystery House, California, USA
The Winchester Mystery House is a peculiar mansion located in San Jose, California. The sprawling mansion was built by Sarah Winchester, the widow of gun magnate William Winchester. Sarah believed that the ghosts of those killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her and set out to build a house that would confuse and trap the spirits. The result is a bizarre, labyrinthine mansion with doors that open to blank walls, staircases that lead to nowhere, and secret passageways.
4. Bodie Ghost Town, California, USA
Bodie is a ghost town located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. The town was founded in 1859 during the gold rush and eventually grew to a population of around 10,000 people. However, as the gold began to run out, the town slowly declined until it was finally abandoned in the 1940s. Today, Bodie is a popular tourist attraction, with visitors able to explore its empty buildings and streets frozen in time.
5. Varosha, Cyprus
Varosha is a once-thriving resort town located on the island of Cyprus. Built-in the 1970s, the town was a popular destination for celebrities and high-profile tourists. However, in 1974, the town was invaded by Turkish forces and has since been left abandoned. Today, the town is still cordoned off by the military, making it one of the most surreal and forbidden abandoned places in the world.
6. Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang
The Ryugyong Hotel is a massive, 105-story skyscraper located in Pyongyang, North Korea. The hotel was supposed to be the tallest in the world when it was completed in 1989, but construction was halted due to financial difficulties. The unfinished building sat empty for years and became a symbol of the country’s economic struggles. In recent years, however, construction has resumed on the hotel, with an expected completion date of 2021.
7. San Juan Parangaricutiro, Michoacán, Mexico
San Juan Parangaricutiro was once a peaceful village in Michoacán, Mexico. However, in 1943, the nearby Paricutín volcano erupted and buried the village in lava and ash. Today, the remains of the village can still be seen, with the tops of buildings and church spires poking out from the hardened lava.
8. Kalyazin, Russia
Kalyazin is a small town located on the Volga River in Russia. In the 1940s, the town was flooded to create a reservoir, but one building was left standing: the bell tower of the Kalyazin Monastery. Today, the bell tower stands alone in the middle of the water, making it one of the most surreal and haunting abandoned places in the world.
9. ZKP Tagansky, Moscow, Russia
ZKP Tagansky is a former Soviet-era prison located in Moscow. The prison was notorious for its harsh conditions and was often used to house political prisoners. Today, the prison has been abandoned for years and has become a popular spot for urban explorers. Visitors can walk through the dark, damp cells and imagine what life must have been like for those who were imprisoned there.
10. Presidio Modelo, Cuba
Presidio Modelo was a massive prison complex located on the Isla de la Juventud in Cuba. The prison was built in the 1920s and was used to house political prisoners, including Fidel Castro himself. The prison was finally closed in 1967, and today, visitors can explore the empty cell blocks and learn about the prison’s dark history.
11. Maunsell Forts, Kent, England
The Maunsell Sea Forts are a series of WWII-era forts that were built off the coast of Kent, England. The forts were used to defend against potential German invasions and were eventually abandoned in the 1950s. Today, the forts have become popular spots for urban explorers and bird watchers alike.
12. Cherokee Nuclear Plant, South Carolina, USA
The Cherokee Nuclear Plant was supposed to be a major source of power for South Carolina when it was built in the 1970s. However, after a series of delays and cost overruns, the plant was never completed and has since been left to decay. Visitors can explore the massive, abandoned cooling towers and imagine what the plant might have looked like if it had ever been operational.
13. Pripyat, Ukraine
Pripyat is a ghost town located near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. The town was evacuated in 1986 after the infamous nuclear disaster and has been left untouched ever since. Today, the town is a haunting reminder of the dangers of nuclear power, with empty schoolhouses, abandoned amusement parks, and deserted apartment buildings frozen in time.
14. Battleship Island, Japan
Battleship Island, also known as Hashima Island, is an abandoned island located off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. The island was once home to a thriving coal-mining community but was abandoned in the 1970s when the mines closed down. Today, the island is a popular spot for urban explorers and has been used as a filming location for movies like Skyfall.
15. Beelitz Military Hospital, Berlin
Beelitz Military Hospital is a massive hospital complex located near Berlin, Germany. The hospital was built in the late 1800s and was used as a military hospital throughout both world wars. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the hospital was abandoned and has since become a popular spot for urban explorers. Visitors can wander through the empty hospital wards and imagine what it must have been like to be a patient there.
16. Balaklava, Ukraine
Balaklava is a small port town located on the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. The town was once home to a massive underground submarine base that was built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the base was abandoned and has since become a popular spot for tourists and urban explorers. Visitors can explore the massive tunnels and see the remains of submarines that were once housed there.
Abandoned places are more than just empty buildings or forgotten towns. They are a window into the past, a reminder of what once was, and a glimpse of what could have been. From the eerie to the surreal, each of these abandoned places has its own unique story to tell. So the next time you come across an abandoned building or town, take a moment to imagine what life must have been like there and what secrets might still lie hidden within its walls.