They were full of life and activity, but for different reasons their inhabitants abandoned them forever. Today among its ruins only silence reigns, sometimes overwhelming. We visit ghost towns and cities and know their sad history almost always. Can you come with us?
1. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
It is one of the scariest ghost cities because its streets and what remains of its buildings remind us of the horrors of war. Oradour-sur-Glane was a quiet town that on June 10, 1944 lived through hell. As Allied troops landed in Normandy, the Nazis razed it and killed 642 people. After the war it was decided not to rebuild the town.
2. Belchite, Spain
Another example of the destruction of war. Belchite was bombed in 1937, during the Civil War. A town of great beauty reduced to rubble in a battle that lasted 15 days. It wasn’t rebuilt either, and it’s one of the preferred ghost towns for paranormal event hunters. Some say that here you can hear the sound of bombs and people crying.
3. Craco, Italy
This small city was built in the 11th century on top of a hill. It had its moment of splendor, in which palaces, beautiful churches and a castle were built. But the instability of the terrain and seismic movements made its inhabitants have to abandon it in the 70s. Despite this, its medieval beauty is still appreciated, although its buildings seem to be about to collapse.
4. Bodie, United States
The exploitation of gold mines led to 10,000 people living in Bodi. Thus grew a typical city of the American West, with its banks, its churches and, of course, its halls. But at the end of the 19th century, the bankruptcy of the mining companies was a heavy blow and the Great Depression marked the end of what is today one of the most curious ghost cities, since visiting it is like going back in time.
5. Pripyat, Ukraine
The name of the city may not sound like anything to you, if we say that the workers of the Chernobyl plant lived here, surely you already know why the city was abandoned in a hasty way. Even today you can guess what Pripyat was like, where the buildings and leisure areas still stand and seem to recall one of the great disasters of the 20th century.
6. Kolmanskop, Namibia
It was built at the beginning of the 20th century to shelter people searching for diamonds in the area. A small city in which neither school nor hospital was lacking. But a few decades later, the harsh climate and the problems to find the precious stones ended up leading to abandonment. Today the desert sands have practically swallowed the city.
7. Pyramiden, Norway
The history of this settlement is peculiar. It is in Norwegian territory, but at the beginning of the 20th century Sweden bought the land to exploit the coal in the area. It then passed into Soviet hands, who built here an “exemplary city” and self-sufficient. In 1988 the order was given to leave the settlement in 24 hours. Today in it you can still see the belongings that its inhabitants did not have time to take away.
8. Real de Catorce, Mexico
It grew in the shelter of a silver mine, but when drilling an aquifer the mine was flooded. This brought about the end of this mining town that had lived decades of splendor up to that moment. A place that, however, now enjoys a second chance from the hand of tourism, which has ensured that the town does not end in total abandonment.
9. Epecuén, Argentina
It became one of the most popular spa cities in Argentina, visited each year by thousands of people willing to take advantage of the healing properties of its waters. But in 1981 a retaining wall that separated the city from the lake gave way due to the rains and had to be evacuated immediately. Epecuén was under the waters that, when they receded years later, revealed what little was left of that place.
10. Varosha, Cyprus
A luxury hotel complex that attracted big celebrities was quickly abandoned. The reason? The Turkish invasion caused everyone to flee from this area, which remained on the border. The Turkish army fenced her off and prohibited entry. Years later, the UN issued a resolution that prevents any settlement in the area other than its inhabitants, who do not seem willing to return.
11. Gunkajima, Japan. One of the most amazing ghost towns
A seam of coal on the seabed made this island rise into a fabulous city to house workers and their families. More than five thousand people came to live in an area of just 500 meters long by 160 wide. But the oil boom and the coal crash caused the mine to close and in a few months the island went from being overcrowded to abandoned.
Cover photo: Todd Lappin