Home to 44 countries, each with their own storied histories, Europe is a continent that calls to travelers in search of adventure and never disappoints. Housing some of the world's most remarkable architecture, perhaps one of the more unusual tourism niches is the wide-spread fascination with abandoned and forgotten buildings.
No matter if they were left to be reclaimed by nature due to upkeep costs, a changing social landscape or because of a long and bitter history, there are plenty of tourists that can't resist transportation into the past through their silent and lonely corridors. Europe has an endless supply of these tragic structures, but here at 10 of the best for those in search of an eerie experience like no other.
10 Craco, Italy
A veritable treasure-trove of wonder for the traveler with a thirst for a disintegrating past, Craco is a ghost town in Southern Italy with a torrid history.
Abandoned in 1963 as a result of recurring natural disasters including monumental landslides, it has since become an unlikely tourism destination and popular filming location. Tombs uncovered here have seen the area dated all the way back to the 8th Century BC and as such, it has been included on the watch list for the World Monuments Fund.
9 Buzludzha Communist Headquarters, Bulgaria
Constructed by the Bulgarian communist regime to celebrate the 1891 secret founding of an organized socialist party that would eventually become the Communist Party, this striking and foreboding monument was opened in 1981.
The country’s transition to democracy saw the structure fall into disrepair and become a beacon for travelers seeking a taste of desolate tales of a time long gone. A new project is aiming to restore the monument so those wanting to see it in all it’s decayed glory will need to hurry.
8 Buyukada Orphelinat, Turkey
Believed to be the largest wooden building in Europe and second largest worldwide, this amazing structure has actually been abandoned twice in its troubled history. Coming into existence in 1898 as a hotel, it was never opened and remained discarded until it was converted into a school and orphanage for children in the early 20th Century.
It was again forsaken in the 1960s and now rests behind barriers that protect the structures miraculously still standing proudly. A debate has raged for decades about what to do with the historically significant area but as yet nothing has been done to restore it to former glory.
7 Canfranc Station, Spain
Once a thriving travel hub, Canfranc Station was abruptly and unceremoniously abandoned after a train derailment that demolished a bridge in the surrounding region critical for rail travel. When it was decided the bridge would not be rebuilt, Canfranc was simply closed and forgotten.
What remains is a remarkable station that is largely overgrown but still intact and inviting to tourists with a slightly quirky sense of adventure. It is closed to the public but open for organized tours that allow visitors to walk through the discarded hallways and experience the mysterious disused tracks and tunnels. Plans have been proposed to turn the structure into a hotel so get along before this tragically beautiful station is cast-aside for good.
6 Lennox Castle Hospital, Scotland
First opening its doors in 1936 to home people with mental disabilities and learning difficulties, Lennox Castle soon began to birth stories of the mistreatment of patients. Despite a maximum capacity of 1,200, over 1,700 doomed patients were crammed inside at times and they experienced starvation, drug experimentation and varied forms of abuse.
Officially closing in 2002, the building has been totally abandoned ever since. Curious explorers can still access the run-down architecture and wander through the dark rooms in search of whispers from a heartbreaking past.
5 Krampnitz Military Base, Germany
Europe has many beautiful spots that once served as military bases and now lay abandoned and Krampnitz is one of the more astounding. Every step taken through what was used in 1937 as a riding and driving school by the Nazis uncovers grim tales from a troubled history.
The Soviet Army took over at the conclusion of World War Two and remained until 1992 when they simply cast it aside, leaving the checkered history alone within its walls. Since then, movies such as Enemy at the Gates and Inglorious Basterds have committed the eerie halls and sprawling grounds to film, perfectly capturing the historically relevant base and its dark atmosphere.
4 Pripyat, Ukraine
Built to house the families of workers at the doomed Chernobyl nuclear facility, Pripyat is now a ghost town that was, for a short time, a thriving and exciting place to live. Today it is as though the area never submitted to the passage of time. Soviet slogans still cover the walls, children’s toys lay where they fell and a sense of despair still lingers throughout the buildings.
Tours will take tourists into the town and wander through the schools, playgrounds, hospital and particularly creepy theme park that were all abandoned in a devastating hurry when the Chernobyl reactor changed the lives of everyone that called Pripyat home in moments.
3 High Royds Asylum, England
Closed and discarded since 2003, this former hospital for those of fragile minds was first opened in 1888 as the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum and on first inspection it looks more like a royal manor than an asylum of any kind.
Filled with fine Italian marble, immaculate tiles and showcasing a stunning clock tower, the original intention was to make the clinic a fully-functioning community of its own with everything a resident could need. As is so often the case, history shows that those homed here were mistreated and their only representation now is the anonymous gravestones still on the property. Even the most hard-hearted abandoned tourism fan will feel a chill when gazing upon this imposing structure enveloped by a shroud of darkness.
2 Beelitz Heilstätten, Germany
This long abandoned hospital was built in 1898 and looks exactly like what you might imagine a deserted 19th Century hotel with a questionable history would. Serving as a field hospital in World War One for victims of the horrific mustard gas attacks, it even treated a young Adolf Hitler when he was wounded during the Battle of the Somme.
World War Two saw its use in treating wounded Nazi soldiers before it was occupied by the Russian at the end of the conflict. A vast majority of the huge complex has now been handed back to the surrounding forest which has created a truly eerie experience for the visitors that come to peer into its sordid history.
1 Cairndhu House, Ireland
This grand house rests atop the beautiful hills of Northern Island’s coastline and is a notorious venue for ghost hunters to visit amid claims of contact with the other side. Built in 1875, it originally served as a stately home for the wealthy but was gifted to the county who eventually allowed it to fall to ruin through lack of attention.
These days caretakers report strange noises coming from the many rooms and the locals tend to avoid the grounds, especially once the sun has given way to the stars. It is now boarded up with the exception of a single top floor window that is an invite unable to be refused by certain curious souls.