Written by Lauren Fazackarley
We all love a bit of creepiness, right? For some reason, the human mind is attracted to all things weird, wonderful, and down right out of the ordinary. There’s nothing that fits the bill better than abandoned cities and abandoned places that have ZERO people living there. There are hundreds of these real-life ghost towns around the world, explored and unexplored, derelict and undamaged. Here’s my top ten of these hauntingly solitary places.
For me, Prypiat is number one – it’s oddly beautiful, a true ghost town in its creepiest form. Prypiat was built in the 1970’s to house the 50,000 families and workers of the nearby Nuclear Power Plant, Chernobyl. We all know what happened with Chernobyl, when the nuclear reactor set on fire in 1986, the whole city had to be evacuated. The population dwindled from 50,000 to 0 in the space of two days. Today, the city has been overtaken by nature, but the main attractions still stand amongst the rubble and trees and thriving animal life. The level of radiation is still too high for permanent human population (no, you won’t turn into Spider-Man), but tours are now available to the public – a definite must see!
Hashima Island – Japan
James Bond fans may recognise number 2. Hashima Island, more commonly known as ‘Battleship Island’, was used as Roaul Silva’s evil lair in the 2012 movie Skyfall (yeah, I don’t know either). The island sits upon a large coal mine, and the buildings and attractions were built in 1916 to house the coal miners. When the mine was shut down in 1974, the island was deserted, yet the buildings still remain – if slightly crumbling. Tours to the island started 35 years after its closure and still remain today.
Isla de las muňecas, Mexico
So, number 3. Err…quite possibly THE CREEPIEST place I have ever seen. Translated as ‘The Island of the Dolls’, the only inhabitants are the caretakers of the island, and, I guess, the dolls. It is said that the original caretaker found a girl’s corpse, and her doll, floating in a canal nearby. As a sign of respect, the caretaker hung her doll from a tree. After this, he began to hear the screams, whispers and wails of a woman, despite the fact he was the only one on the island. The noises soon turned him mad, and he spent the next 50 years dismembering more and more dolls, and hanging them from the tree to protect him from her spirit. This went on until 2001 until the caretaker was found dead… in the exact spot he found the young girl. Tourists today have even come back speaking of whispering within the trees, or the eyes of the dolls following them. I think I need to lie down…
Another one for the James Bond fans. Craco is a ghost town that has been the setting for films such as Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ, and for good reason. Craco is a perfectly crumbling Italian beauty. Due to dramatic natural disasters such as landslides, floods and earthquakes, the town was abandoned. The population still stands at zero, but is a popular tourist attraction for the budding Daniel Craig’s! (I had to Google the actor in Quantum of Solace, please don’t judge…)
If you go to visit Kolmanskop, you’ll spend the next week getting the sand out of your shoes. Quite literally in the middle of the Namib desert, Kolmanskop was once a small but profitable mining business. Zacharias Lewala found the first diamond there in 1908, but like all good things, they must come to an end. They soon ran out of diamonds and the town was abandoned in 1954. The town is now a restricted area, but permits can be bought to enter the town – but prepare to be knee deep in sand!
For the bike enthusiasts amongst you, you may recognise this rubble from a Red Bull advert aired in 2014, featuring street trials cyclist Danny McAskill. Epecuén was once a thriving spa town, rich in therapeutic salty waters. In 1985, a flood caused the whole town to go under water, and the townspeople fled. It was not until 2009 that the waters began to decrease (*cough* Global Warming *cough*), and Epecuén began to rise out of the waters like a modern day Atlantis, and has never been rebuilt. This town, however, does have a population (bending the rules slightly, I know). Pablo Novak returned to his home in 2009 and is now the sole resident of Epecuén – you go Pablo!
In 1944, the small village of Oradour-sur-Glane was occupied by Nazi officials. 642 of its inhabitants were brutally massacred. The men were killed with machine guns, while the women and children were locked inside a church, set alight and then shot. The village has not been touched since that day, but left as a permanent memorial and museum to remember the Nazi cruelty, and to remember the helpless dead. Hear hear.
Okpo Land, South Korea
Not quite an abandoned city, but Okpo Land did sit atop an island. Once one of Asia’s best themeparks, Okpo Land was a popular destination for thrill-seekers, offering popular rides such as the Duck Ride. It was this ride, however, that caused the death of a young girl after her cart derailed. After this, the park was abandoned and the owner fled in 1999 – nowhere to be found. The park was left exactly as it was left, even the derailed cart, and was overtaken by weeds and graffiti. Unfortunately, the ruins have now been demolished, what a shame…