There are very few images nowadays that can truly take our breath away. This is because we have access to the internet and have all seen a number of unnerving places out there from the comfort of our mobile devices. But even though we may be exposed to so much imagery that generations before us were not exposed to, there are still places that cause us to stop and stare and question – What on earth happened there?
Abandoned buildings can be found in almost every country, and as you’ll see from the list below, sometimes a whole island is abandoned! Perhaps the most intriguing thing is the stories that are attached to these deserted buildings. We wonder about the lives that used to occupy the walls. We wonder about the reasons why the buildings are now abandoned…some even swear that the spirits of the people there can still be felt.
From abandoned hospitals, apartments, houses, there are so many places out there that used to be full of life, but now are filled with crumbling walls and are rotting away. This list is definitely for the brave and curious. Scroll down below as we take you through 22 eerie images of deserted buildings.
22 Kolmanskop, Namibia
This African town was once lively with houses, hospitals, and a large and opulent ballroom. The buildings were built by the Germans when German miners arrived sometime in the early 1900s in search of diamonds. They stayed there for a couple of decades, until in 1928 when a diamond hotspot was discovered in another area far from there. This caused the people who had built their lives in Kolmanskop to pack up and leave everything behind, including this beautiful town. The only thing that now occupies the walls are the desert sands of Namibia, which are slowly covering up the houses.
21 Michigan Theater, USA
The Michigan Theater is one of the many places on this list found in Detroit. From the high ceilings and the artworks that surround it, it is very clear that this theater once housed only the rich and famous.
It was designed in 1925 in a French style. The cost of the construction was $3.5 million, which is $42.4 million in today's money. It was designed by famous architects George L. Rapp and Cornelius W. It opened its doors in 1926 to the film “You Never Know Women”.
Historic Detroit explains that John H. Kunsky, one of the managers of the theaters, described the significance of it to the newspapers at the time. “It is not merely a theater for Detroit. It is a theater for the whole world. It is designed to be the great showplace of the middle west.”
20 Last House on Holland Island, USA
The last house on Holland Island makes its way onto our list and there’s no wondering why – the house was built back in 1888 and due to its location, has survived shoreline erosion. A Methodist minister, Stephen White, bought is in 1995 for $70,000 and tried to preserve its legacy but the elements worked against him.
Sometimes Interesting explains that “Stephen built breakwaters out of wood, but the waves devoured them. He and his wife feverishly laid sandbags only to watch them split open in the hot summer sun and dissolve in the high tides.” Stephen and his wife spent around $150,000 to try and save the island but to no avail.
19 Michigan Central Station, USA
This building in Detroit has been vacant since the 1980s. It has a barbed wire fence surrounding it and nothing about it seems welcoming. It was therefore surprising to learn that it will actually be used as a Haunted House for this year’s Halloween. Since the building is practically abandoned, we certainly don’t see any problem with the locals trying to reimagine it.
The Lonely Planet explains that “the Detroit station has been abandoned since 1988 after the Amtrak train pulled out of its main terminal. It fell into a dilapidated state and has starred as a gritty and derelict backdrop to films such as Eminem’s 8 Mile, Transformers and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
18 House of the Bulgarian Communist Party, Bulgaria
This building that looks nothing like a house, in fact, more like a flying saucer, sits on top of an old mountain in Bulgaria. In 1989, the Bulgarian people moved into a path of parliamentary democracy and leaving this house behind is perhaps a symbol of their intentions to not go back to those times. Although the structure could certainly attract a lot of tourists, it seems like to maintain it would be quite costly as it would be millions of dollars. This structure on our list is interesting because it is too expensive to maintain and too significant to the country’s past to just demolish.
17 The Orpheum Theater, USA
Arts and culture are what keeps the identity and voices of many communities around the world alive. This is how the people in a community express themselves and give us a taste of what they are all about. Theater, in particular, has been appreciated for many centuries by the art enthusiasts.
Although the Orpheum theater was certainly impressive, it really didn’t get a great start – it opened on April 15th, 1912, the same day that the Titanic sank. New Bedford was once very proud of this theater and since it shut down in 1962, there have been talks about it being reopened and being used as a community theater.
16 Wooden Houses, Russia
One look at this abandoned wooden house in Russia and you would think that this building is straight out of a fairytale. The house is one of many in an old Russian village called Ostashevo.
Russia Trek explains that “the subsequent history of the house is even more obscure. Travelers who visited the house found posters, propaganda literature and newspapers of the 1969s. In the attic there were newspapers dated 1891.” Although no one can tell who the original owner of the house was, one thing we can’t deny is how eerie it looks as it stands surrounded by the quiet forest.
15 Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island is located all the way in Japan and what’s most interested about this place on the list is that it’s part of the few abandoned places that have actually been made into tourist attractions for the country. Thousands of visitors who go to Japan have this island way up on their itineraries as they are just fascinated by it.
The island was full of life in the years 1887 to 1974 as it was a coal mining hot spot of Japan. But, as with everything else in life, that all came to an end. Coal resources began depreciating, petroleum replaced it and everybody just packed and left, leaving Mother Nature to slowly occupy the walls of each concrete space.
14 Underwater City, Shicheng, China
China is one country that is undoubtedly rich with culture and history. This underwater city in Shicheng is just proof of how the country truly does have plenty of stories to tell. This city was hidden 130 feet underwater. It was flooded in the man-made lake of Qiandao Lake.
Dailystar explains this incredible beauty that was found by local divers. “Divers discovered a jaw-dropping labyrinth of adorned temples, memorial arches, and dragon carvings, deep in the tranquil waters…despite its beauty, the city was deliberately flooded by the Chinese government in 1959 to make way for a new hydroelectric power station.”
13 Manteno State Mental Hospital, USA
This psychiatric hospital is located in Illinois, USA and was opened during the Great Depression in 1930. The beauty about this place is that it was different to other hospitals during its time. It concentrated on building more of a community between patients and staff, compared to other hospitals.
Rent explains that “the immense setting was filled with cottages and dedicated staff. Patients raised crops in nearby fields as a way to contribute and gain valuable skills. This was very different from the overcrowded and understaffed hospitals of the day.”
The hospital functioned well for about 8 years until typhoid fever hit. The hospital later became a testing base for scientists until it was eventually shut down in 1985.
12 Salto Hotel, Colombia
This particular hotel was built back in 1923 by architect, Arturo Tapias. It's located in Bogota, and sees many tourists, as well as local visitors, every year. When you study some of the pictures taken of the hotel, you will realize that it was once a very beautiful hotel where opulence was in abundance.
The Vintage News explains that “the building displays divine French architecture and high windows and was constructed as a symbol of the joy and elegance off the elite citizens of the 20s.” The hotel saw wealthy tourist visit it for 60 years and unfortunately, was never reconstructed as the building became too damaged to continue operating.
11 Beelitz Military Hospital, Germany
If you loved the film “The Pianist”, then you might recognize this building on our list. The military hospital in Beelitz was once a rehabilitation center for patients who suffered from tuberculosis in Berlin, Germany.
Another interesting aspect about this abandoned hospital is the infamous patient it once treated, Adolf Hitler when he had an injury. The Insider explains, “this eerie hospital once treated Nazi leader Adolf Hitler for a thigh injury he acquired during a WWI battle in late 1916.” The hospital was eventually abandoned during the war and since it was a hospital, we bet that if the walls could talk, there would be many stories to tell.
10 Abandoned Church in the Snow, Canada
The images online about this abandoned church have to be some of the eeriest out there. This particular building is found in Ontario. Although there are quite a number of abandoned homes here, it is interesting to note that it is actually rare to find a church, which is perhaps why so many people who have visited the area have drawn so much attention to it.
What’s even more unsettling is how there’s actually a cemetery on the property, with lots of graves. Visitors have noted that the grounds are generally well-maintained and the gravesites often have fresh flowers but the church, it seems, is long forgotten.
9 San Zhi, Taiwan
These houses in San Zhi are often referred to as “UFO Houses” because, well, just look at them. They definitely don’t look like anything else on planet earth. What’s interesting about these houses is that they were actually created not so long ago – 1978, to be precise. They were designed by Matti Suuronen and the place was intended to be a vacation resort.
Things didn’t quite go as planned as there were plenty of investment losses while construction was still ongoing, which caused them to put a stop to the construction in 1980. They naturally attract a lot of visitors and there are now talks to turn the houses into museums.
8 St. Agnes Church, Detroit, USA
We have another church on our list and this time it is located in Detroit, Michigan. It is worth noting the number of abandoned churches that are already on this list. These are churches that are found all over the world. It seems like wherever human beings decide to settle, there will undoubtedly be a church built.
St Agnes Church, in particular, was once a Catholic church with a girl’s High School on the grounds. Construction was completed by 1924 and because of the densely populated community, the school was thriving and at one point, had 180 students, 22 nuns and 3 priests.
However, years later, with the vast majority of the community moving out, it became clear that the population left could no longer fill up the church and the school. This ultimately led to the school and the church being shut down.
7 Chicken Church, Indonesia
The reason why this church building is referred to as a “Chicken Church” is because, well, just look at it. It looks like one giant chicken. The church was built in the Indonesian jungle by Daniel Alamsjah. He claims to have received a divine message to build a prayer house.
If you’ve been to Indonesia or are planning a trip there soon, you might have seen it or heard of it. This is because although the structure does not house anyone in particular, it still sees thousands of local and foreign tourists visit it every year. While foreigners can visit it to marvel over the history and the story behind it, the locals use it as a prayer house.
6 North Brother Island, USA
Just like with the many other churches we have mentioned on our list, it seems like there are plenty of abandoned islands out there. Construction on this island only began in 1885, after the city of New York purchased it in order to build Riverside Hospital. This Hospital was intended for typhus, yellow fever, smallpox, and tuberculosis patients to be treated there as all these diseases are infections. Well, needless to say, things didn’t quite work out as intended with plenty losing their lives there. Use for the hospital changed when it was reopened during WWII but it was eventually shut down for good in 1963.
5 Bodie, California
Bodie was once a thriving town. After William S.Body found gold in 1859, a mining camp was slowly built as more and more people and companies made their way there in search of riches.
Ghost Town Gallery highlights how lively the place once was. “The discovery of several rich gold veins in 1876 started a rush to Bodie. At one point, there were 65 saloons at Bodie, a red light district, and a Chinatown.” After WWII, little by little, people began to leave the town behind and start new lives for themselves elsewhere. It is now part of California's State Park and sees many tourists annually.
4 Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark
The only lighthouse on this list can be found in Rubjerg Knude, Denmark. The building was constructed in 1899 and shut down in 1968. There were also coffee shops and a museum nearby that were, like the lighthouse, abandoned. As one looks at photographs of the place you will clearly see that over time, the sands started filling and eventually covering the smaller buildings.
Artificial Owl highlights that “shifting sands and coastal erosion led to the buildings being abandoned in 2002. Prior to their abandonment, the buildings had been used as a museum and coffee shop. The small buildings are now partially buried in the sand.”
3 Brandenburg Olympic Village, Germany
When one hears of an Olympic village, one naturally thinks of a place that’s full of life. Well, that was once the case for this Olympic village in Brandenburg but clearly, through the images, that’s no longer the case.
DW explains that “over the years, various plans to turn it into a conference center, a hotel, a clinic or a football school were abandoned because of the high cost of refurbishing the buildings. It has been forgotten and fallen into slumber, visited only by handfuls of tourists who make the 6.2-mile trek from the capital to learn its fascinating history.”
The bright side though is that there are now plans to turn it into apartment buildings all while preserving the historical monument.
2 Bhangarh, India
This one on our list is one of the eeriest places. In fact, even the locals refer to it as the “Most haunted place in India.” Holidify explains how the locals and tourists in the area have for years been warned about the place. “Because of the numerous ghostly experiences and happenings in the fort premises, villages have sprung up far away from the fort, due to the fear of what lies within. Even the Archaeological Survey of India has forbidden the locals and tourists from entering the fort at night.” There are many legends of the paranormal activities witnessed here.
1 Pripyat, Ukraine
The town of Pripyat can be found in Northern Ukraine. This one on our list has by far, the saddest history of all. You see, the reason why Pripyat is now abandoned is not that people left the place voluntarily. It is not because there were new industries and opportunities somewhere else. No. Pripyat was abandoned because of a nuclear test that went wrong.
The Chernobyl Nuclear Station exploded in April 1986 and destroyed everything near it. The place is not open to tourists and there are tours all year long. The beauty of this story is that nature has now marked its territory and it's trying to restore what once was.