There are some cities in the world that are so overpopulated it’s impossible to find accommodation, and what accommodation can be found, is charged at exorbitant rates. These are cities that never sleep and the sound of cars, people, and the constant light from the streets, takes some getting used to. Then, there are locations outside of the cities, where individuals can enjoy a slower pace of life, without the chatter of people and the honking of car horns. And on the complete opposite end of the scale, there are ghost towns, long abandoned, and an eerie reminder of the past.
Some of these towns were once mining settlements, and when the mines were exhausted, the companies shut, and workers had to relocate in search of new opportunities. Today, where there was once a bustling city, the buildings have been left to be forgotten. Other locations, like Centralia and Pripyat, gave its residents no choice but to leave because the conditions here make them uninhabitable and dangerous, and other war-torn ruins of villages and cities remain empty, left as a monument to honor those who once resided there.
Below are 20 real-life ghost towns, each with their own interesting backstory.
20 The Radiation Levels In Pripyat Make It Impossible To Live Here
Many people have probably heard about the Chernobyl power plant disaster, which happened in 1986, but fewer people will know the town that was affected by this nuclear accident. That town is Pripyat, located in northern Ukrainian, around 100 km from the Kiev.
Pripyat was home to 49,000 residents, all of whom were evacuated in the days following the accident, leaving behind a ghost town because of the high radiation levels. The Soviet government sealed off an 18-mile exclusion zone, History reports, leaving the buildings in Pripyat to slowly decay, alone.
19 Centralia Is The Real-Life Town That Inspired A Horror Film
Centralia in Pennsylvania is one of the most famous ghost towns in the world because it served as the inspiration for the film, Silent Hill.
Originally a mining town, an accident involving a mineshaft catching fire happened in 1962, leaving the town to burn underground. It continues to burn now, more than 50 years later. But the term ghost town may not be completely accurate, because according to Business Insider, Centralia is completely uninhabited, and around 13 people still live here.
18 Craco Has Been Left Empty For More Than 50 Years
Located in the Italian region of Basilicata, lies Craco, a fascinating ancient ghost town that was once a medieval village, but has now been uninhabited for more than 50 years, Ancient Origins reports. Perched on a high cliff, Craco is truly something to marvel at, but it is not the ideal place to live and has experienced poor agricultural conditions, landslides, and periodic earthquakes.
However, there is a silver lining for this town as it’s become somewhat of a tourist attraction as it’s been used as the filming location for several films, including the James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.
17 Bodie Was Once Filled With Unsavory Characters, Now It's Filled With Tumbleweeds
Bodie was once a gold and silver mining town, but the mine eventually ran out of precious minerals, and not long after, ran out of people. Established in 1876 at the height of the gold rush, the town was filled with more than 10,000 people, although many of them were unsavory characters, History reports.
Although the last remaining residents left during the 1940's, the shacks in Bodie still stand, and the town has been well-preserved, thus becoming a location which is explored by fascinated tourists.
16 Kolmanskop Was Once A Booming Diamond Mine Town
Workers from the neighboring diamond mine were set up in Kolmanskop, a town in the Namibian Desert. German miners arrived in the area in the early 1900’s, setting up buildings that matched the German architecture of the time, Business Insider reports. This created an interesting juxtaposition between the grand buildings and the desert scenery.
Miners left the location after a new diamond-rich area was located. According to National Geographic, the town became abandoned in the 1950’s and has now become partially covered by sand.
15 Humberstone And Santa Laura Are UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Chile’s Atacama desert is a fascinating place, and in addition to being the location of ancient whale fossils, it’s also the home to the ghost towns, Humberstone and Santa Laura. These towns were set up by the saltpeter mining companies, after workers from Chile, Peru and Bolivia were attracted to the mines to work. But according to National Geographic, the towns became abandoned in 1958.
The former saltpeter works were declared UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2005, and what remains of the towns offers a glimpse into the times, including a theater and a cast-iron swimming pool.
14 When The Demand For Coal Decreased, So Did The Population Of Kadykchan
The Russian town of Kadykchan is an abandoned coal mining town, which according to Sometimes Interesting, was built by Gulag prisoners during World War II. It was a remote location, subjected to incredibly harsh winters, but at one point there were around 11,000 people living in the area.
Then, in the 1990’s demand for coal decreased, and the Soviet Union fell, so the town’s residents started to move on. The final nail in the town’s coffin came after a mine explosion in 1996, which claimed the lives of six people. According to the publication, this resulted in the mines being closed down, and now, less than 200 people live in this near-ghost town.
13 Hashima Island Is An Eerie Concrete Jungle
Japan’s Hashima Island is located around 15 km from Nagasaki, and according to The Telegraph, it was used for coal mining operations from 1887. The location enjoyed a boom ie 1959, and was home to more than 5,000 residents, however, when petroleum replaced the need for coal, Hashima Island took a knock, and the mine eventually closed in 1974.
According to History, after the mine closed, the residents left the island, although the concrete buildings remain behind and can be viewed by tourists on boat trips and excursions.
12 All That Remains Of Pyramiden Are Its Buildings, Including A Library Filled With Books
Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago that was once a Soviet Union settlement and coal mining community. The settlement was reportedly founded by Sweden in 1910, and sold to the Soviet Union in 1927, Visit Svalbard reports.
In the 1980’s, the population of Pyramiden was 1,000, but the Russian state-owned by Trust Arktikugol closed the mine in 1998. According to National Geographic, when the mine was exhausted, workers left the area not long after, although the buildings, including a library and a music hall, remain, and are well-preserved.
11 People Flocked To The Arid Conditions In Arltunga During The Gold Rush
The historic town of Arltunga once played an important role in central Australia; it was the first town. The town was founded in 1887 because of the gold rush, and according to MacDonnell Ranges, it was a booming little town from 1887 until 1913.
It was home to around 300 people at the time, who had traveled here to seek their fortunes, but this was not a destination which offered an easy living. The climate was harsh and arid, and The Telegraph notes it took its toll on those living there.
10 The Ruins Of Belchite Serve As A Reminder To The Events That Happened Here
Belchite in the Zaragoza Province of Spain is a village that was affected by fighting between the Spanish Republican Army and General Franco’s troops in 1937, The Telegraph reports.
A new town of Belchite was built but only completed in 1954, but the old village ruins have been left as a memorial to what happened here during the Spanish Civil War. According to Atlas Obscura, today, the ruins look much like they did in 1939, covered in rubble and riddled with bullet holes.
9 Khalmer-Yu Is One Of The Many Fascinating Russian Ghost Towns
There are many ghost towns in Russia, long left to stand empty and alone because the residents relocated after an industry collapse, or the location’s mines or deposits were exhausted. One of these places is Khalmer-Yu.
According to Culture Trip, in 1940 coal was found in this location, and more than 15 years later, in 1957, a mine was established. Then in 1993, the mine closed, and the publication reports that the settlement was dissolved. The buildings lay empty and became used as bombing practice, leaving behind ruins of the decades-old settlement.
8 France's Oradour-Sur-Glane Was Burned Down During World War II
The village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in France was destroyed in World War II, when according to History, a Nazi Waffen SS unit gathered up the town’s residents and set fire to the buildings. Many people lost their lives on this day in June of 1944, and although a new village was later built, the ruins of the old village remain as French President Charles de Gaulle wanted them to serve as a reminder of what happened, and a monument to those who were affected by this sad event.
7 Copehill Down In Wiltshire Is A Different Sort Of Ghost Town
Copehill Down in Wiltshire, England, is a little different to the other entries on this list, because while it is a ghost town, it was never intended to be inhabited, and never has been. Instead, it was built in 1988 by the British Army to resemble a Bavarian village, and used as a training facility, Amusing Planet reports.
It is used as a FIBUA (Fighting In Built Up Areas) village, in order to allow troops to become familiar with fighting in suburban areas in Europe. There is no public access to the facility.
6 Not Much Is Known About The Lakeside Village Of Pegrema
Dating back to the 18th Century, the wooden homes in the village of Pegrema in the Republic of Karelia in Russia, were once home to Russian peasants, Business Insider reports. The wooden huts now lay decaying on the lakeside and have been empty since the Russian Revolution, the publication notes. There is also a chapel, the Varlaam Khutynsky chapel, and although it has been deserted for years, it still remains intact, Atlas Obscura reports.
Although not much information is available on the eerie village, it does offer a glimpse into the living situation of the people who lived there.
5 The Mine In Kennecott Attracted Many Workers, But It Went Bust
The abandoned mining camp of the Kennecott Mines in Alaska was home to a profitable copper mining cooperation. According to Alaska, miners wanted to work here because the mining operation offered higher wages in order to entice travelers to come to the remote area.
The mining camp was established in 1903 and was home to many miners and their families. But, all good things come to an end, and by 1925, a geologist made their findings clear and stated the copper would soon run out. Sure enough, less than 10 years later, Kennecott was deserted and became a ghost town.
4 St. Elmo Is Claimed To Be The Most Haunted Place In Colorado
St. Elmo is a ghost town located in Colorado and one which has since become a popular tourist attraction for those who are hoping to witness paranormal activity.
It’s now privately owned and the former mining settlement, which was home to just seven people in 1930, is no longer visited because of anything to do with mining, but rather because it is believed to be haunted. According to Country Living, it is claimed to be one of the most haunted towns in the state of Colorado.
3 Kayakoy Was Left Empty After The Ottoman Empire Fell
Turkey’s Kayakoy was originally inhabited by the Ottoman Greeks, this was until the Ottoman Empire fell in 1921, Architectural Digest reports. The city is now a ghost town, but although it may not have permanent residents, there has been a lot of attention from tourists. In fact, according to The Telegraph, the town was one of the locations featured in the movie, The Water Diviner.
The town cannot accommodate motorcars because the streets are not big enough, and while there has been talking of redevelopment, it’s unclear if this will be a wonderful project, or if it will further damage the existing infrastructure.
2 Pomona Is A Shell Of The Settlement It Once Was
Another forgotten Namibian town is Pomona, a homestead dating back to 1860's when mining first started here. Located near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, it was once the outpost to provide goods to the mining town, which was profitable at the time because it was diamond-rich. According to Learning History, in 1910, there were so many diamonds that they could be picked up from the ground with people’s bare hands.
According to Namibia Tourism, Pomona was controlled by Germans, and the diamonds were discovered by the German Diamond Company. Now, all that remains now is the broken buildings and bits of machinery.
1 The Old West Town Of Calico Has Found Its Salvation In Tourism
Calico is yet another former silver mining town that has been abandoned and serves a reminder of the past. Located in San Bernardino County in California, Calico is an old west town which has been around since 1881, Calico Ghost Town reports. When silver lost its value in the mid-1890’s, Calico’s population decreased, and the town was abandoned.
Calico has been architecturally restored and transformed into a popular tourist attraction, a place where Country Living reports, visitors can make a trip to Maggie Mine (a former working mine, which has an area safe to see), as well as ride the Calico Odessa Railroad.