Just like people, towns and cities have lifespans. Some last for hundreds of years while some others are not so lucky. Here are the stories of the some of most beautiful ghost towns in the world.
1. Craco, Italy
This city located in the ‘foot’ of Italy, can trace its origins back to 1060, when the land was under the ownership of Archbishop Arnaldo of Tricarico. By the late 19th century, it had around 2,000 inhabitants but by 1922, almost 1,300 people from Craco moved to North America. The remaining population suffered from poor farming conditions and earthquakes over the years and in 1963, the remaining 1,800 people were shifted to a nearby village with more favorable living conditions. The hilltop town remains but only as a crumbling ruin.
2. Kitsault, Canada
This modern ghost town, in British Columbia, Canada, was only populated for 18 months. The US mining company, Phelps Dodge, created it in 1979 to house miners and their families (around 1,200 people). The company was involved in the mining of molybdenum but the recession of 1982, forced the firm to remove all its people from the region.
3. Agdam, Azerbaijan
Once, Agdam was a city of more than 150,000 people but in 1993, the Nagorno Karabakh war broke out near it. The city fell to Armenians vandals who ransacked the entire place. The population of Agdam were forced to flee to other parts of the country and even to Iran.
4. Kolmanskop, Namibia
Located in Southern Namibia, and a few kilometers inland to the port of Lüderitz, Kolmanskop was a town established to meet the needs of people drawn to the diamond rush of 1908. It had schools, hospitals and even a casino but following the First World War the demand for diamond dropped and by 1950, the town was deserted only to be engulfed by the sand dunes.
5. Centralia, United States
Once Centralia, Pennsylvania, had over 3,000 residents. Now, it has 10. It all started in 1962, when the townspeople set fire to trash next to an abandoned mine in the region. What they also set fire in the process, was an exposed vein of anthracite coal which then spread throughout the mines underneath the town. Due to the pressure inside, in 1981, the ground crumbled killing a 12-year-old kid, after which the state relocated the residents to other parts. And yet, a handful remained.
6. Kadykchan, Russia
Kadykchan, a tin mining town, is one of the many places that suffered from a shortage of basic supplies like water and electricity when the Soviet Union fell. The government shifted around 12,000 people over a period of two weeks and re-settled them in other parts of Russia. In their hurry to leave, most residents left their belongings behind. Even today, you can find old toys, clothes and books in the abandoned houses in this ghost town.
7. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
This little French village suffered one of the worst fates during the German occupation. The French version of the story claims that the residents were massacred by the Nazi soldiers as a punishment for supporting the French Resistance. While the German version says that the soldiers reacted to a grenade attack following which they had to retaliate with machine gun fire that killed the villagers. Either way, the villagers died and the place is still empty as a remembrance to the horrors of war.
8. St. Kilda, Scotland
Located in the North Atlantic Ocean, St. Kilda is located in an archipelago that had been inhabited since the Bronze age. Thanks to the availability of barley and sheep, the inhabitants were able to sustain themselves without any help from outsiders, but during the First World War, the military entered the region, the people got used to outside supplies. Then the crops fell and soon living in this remote region became impossible. Now it’s an abandoned place and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
9. Kilamba New City, Angola
Here’s the back story of Nove Cidade de Kilamba or Kilamba New City, located just outside Luanda, the capital of Angola. The Chinese helped build this satellite city, or 750 8-storey buildings, replete with schools and retail spaces. You see, Angola is China’s biggest source of oil in the region. But these apartments are way beyond the budget of the average Angolan and so, until the oil money trickles down to the common person, this city is likely to remain abandoned.
10. Varosha, Cyprus
Varosha is a part of the city of the Cypriot city of Famagusta, which had been illegally occupied by the Turkish following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Now, the town is shut off to the public and it lies abandoned despite having huge tourism potential.
11. Gunkanjima, Japan
Gunkanjima Island, off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan, was a coal mining town established in 1890 by Mitsubishi. To house the people and also protect them from hurricanes, the country’s first ever concrete building was built here. But by the 50s, oil had replaced coal in most of Japan which forced Mitsubishi to eventually wrap up their operations from the island. Now the island is abandoned and off limits to civilians.
12. San Zhi, Taiwan
This futuristic pod village was commissioned by the Taiwanese government as a holiday retreat for the affluent, but due to accidents during the construction, which claimed the lives of many, the work was abandoned midway. Then, legend grew that the village was haunted by the spirits of those who died here. Even now, no other project has been commissioned here and no architects involved in the doomed project were ever named.
13. Prypiat, Ukraine
Perhaps the most famous ghost town in the world, the factory town of Prypiat was where the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear plant lived until the infamous 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Prior to the accident, the area housed around 50,000 people.
14. Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
In 1898, the Chinese handed over some territories to the British and Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong was part of that transfer. The area was one of the most densely populated ungoverned places in the world, with about 33,000 residents living in 6.4 acres. It was also a den of operations for the Triads who ran drug and prostitution rackets within the walled city. In 1987, the Hong Kong government announced plans to demolish it.
15. Pyramiden, Norway
Founded by Sweden and then transferred to Soviet Union in 1927, Pyramiden is an abandoned mining town in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. It was closed in 1998 but the buildings and infrastructure still remain largely intact. There are plans of turning this into a tourist destination.