While the tourist industry generally promotes places that one can relax and have fun at, there’s no way to really predict what’s going to appeal to tourists as far as certainty is concerned. After all, we have our own preferences about where we would like to spend our vacations at which may not be the same as someone else’s. On top of that, people’s expectations for what they want out of a vacation in terms of services and entertainment change overtime. So what may have seemed appealing to one generation of tourists may not appeal to another. As a result, there are places in the world that are either not as visited as they used to be or completely abandoned.
Yet strangely enough, some people are drawn to rundown or abandoned places. Why this is the case is a mystery in of itself, since it’s unclear if it’s personal preference or perhaps the lack of people in these places is comforting to those who don’t like big crowded areas. Whatever the reason may be, they’ve drawn attention to the forgotten corners of the world and made them relevant again through visual documentation (aka pictures). So here is just a smattering of such places that are either barely holding on or completely abandoned, and even one that’s only for the bravest explorers out there!
25 House on the Rock - A Man’s Treasure Trove
Resting atop a chimney rock near the village of Spring Green, Wisconsin (which lies within the town of the same name), this unusual tourist attraction has become an enigma both in terms of reputation and its environment. Because while it may seem like a misshapen house on the outside, the inside is filled with all kinds of strange objects as the above picture demonstrates. Yet the story behind it is kind of underwhelming: in the 1940s, by a man named Alex Jordan built it to store “The varied items he obtained from his travels around the world” according to Metro.
24 Sistine Chapel - Damaged by the Air We Breathe
It doesn’t take a fan of art to appreciate these ceiling frescos that were done by the famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Consisting of watercolor paint on damp plaster, they’ve lasted for centuries inside of this Vatican chapel and are viewed by millions of tourists every year. Now that may not seem like a big deal, yet there is a pressing environmental issue. Because we exhale carbon dioxide when we breathe in oxygen to survive, it rises up and normally evaporates into the air. But because carbon dioxide reacts badly to paint, the frescoes get damaged in turn according to CNN.
23 Caves of Altamira - Closed for Good (Kind of)
Considered to have one of the oldest cave paintings in the world, these caves in Spain are not only culturally significant but also historically due to their prehistoric origins. But like many other sites, this place wasn’t completely spared from the environmental impact of having multitudes of tourists visiting it. Dealing with the same carbon dioxide damage as the Sistine Chapel and Tutankhamun’s Tomb, it was closed to the public by the Spanish authorities according to CNN. This continued for several years as extensive conservation work was made to restore the caves, until 2014 when a few visitors were allowed in.
22 Six Flags New Orleans - Blown Away
One of the former branches in the Six Flags line of amusement parks, this place is infamously abandoned not because it did poorly but due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. Also known as Jazzland, as stated by INSIDER, the place hadn’t been open for too long and yet was already expanding with a waterpark in the works by the time the infamous hurricane rolled in. Sustaining a lot of damage, the park lay in ruins and remained that way since. This is despite the claim that it was going to be converted into “A shopping complex” INSIDER says.
21 City Methodist Church - Nightmares and Steel
During the 1920s, there was an enormous boom in the steel industry within the state of Indiana. One of the towns that prospered during this time was Gary, Indiana, where this Gothic-style church was built. But “When the steel industry crashed in the 1970s, people moved away” due to the lack of jobs according to INSIDER. So the church suffered due to fewer people coming until it was abandoned completely. Yet this place hasn’t gone to waste in the years since as it’s been used as a location for many movies including the original Nightmare on Elm Street film.
20 Outdoor Desert Art Museum - Electronic Wasteland
Also known as the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum, this place primarily consists of sculptures that are made from various objects. The running theme, though, is technology as a majority of the sculptures are made from “Barrels, televisions, bicycles, and tires” according to Metro. Then combined with the fact that these statues are located in the middle of the desert, namely Joshua Tree, California, it gives these statues more of a creepy barrenness to them. Like Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, though, this too was created by an artist who spent a good deal of his life working on the sculptures.
19 Philadelphia's Magic Gardens - Maze of Concrete
While House on the Rock can seem like a maze given the inconsistency of objects inside from a large carousel to a life-size recreation of a village from the Nineteenth century, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is a literal one. Despite what the name implies, this place is actually filled with concrete walls and lanes that have all kinds of objects embedded into them both big and small. The person responsible for this was Isaiah Zagar, an artist who bought “Vacant lots near his run-down neighborhood and began constructing the concrete walls over a period of 14 years” Metro states.
18 Old Car City USA - A Graveyard for Cars
If anyone ever wondered what happens to old cars that don’t get sold to a museum or end up in a junkyard to be turned into scrap metal, then they’ll probably end up here depending on how vintage they are. Located near the city of White, Georgia, this place claims to have “4,400 classic cars” according to Metro. This in turn would theoretically make it appealing for fans of older cars as well as those who have a certain nostalgia for them. Plus, Metro claims this has become a popular place for photographers “Who bring models here for photo shoots”.
17 North Brother Island - America’s Poveglia
For those not familiar with Poveglia, it’s an island near Venice, Italy, that was used to quarantine people with infectious diseases back in the Middle Ages before being converted into a mental institution and then being abandoned after that. In America, there is a similar place near Manhattan called North Brother Island which houses a hospital that was used to treat patients who were contagious. Then following WWII, “The hospital was re-opened as a rehabilitation center” according to INSIDER before eventually closing down in the 1960s. As the above picture shows, nature has pretty much reclaimed it.
16 Ohio State Reformatory - Tough Juvie Prison
Until 1990, this was where juvenile criminals were incarcerated which was the case for “Nearly a century” according to INSIDER. The reason it closed permanently was due to the harsh conditions of the prison in general as well as several notorious incidents that occurred. These included the disappearance of a jail employee’s wife, INSIDER says, along with the warden’s wife meeting an accidental end. So as a result, the place is reputedly haunted making it a popular place for tourists who enjoy such locales. This prison was also made famous by its appearance in several movies including The Shawshank Redemption.
15 Angkor Wat - Overrun with Tourists
Of the various places to go to in Cambodia, this is definitely one of the most popular. With a long history of being a temple for both Hindus and Buddhists, it is intricately tied to the nationality of Cambodia. It's also known worldwide for its enormous size as a religious monument, which makes it appealing to tourists in general. But according to CNN, “More than two million people visited Angkor Wat in 2013” with that number increasing in the years since. Now as the above picture shows, that doesn’t sound fun for anybody whether they’re a tourist or a local.
14 Taj Mahal - Decreasing Water Levels
Apart from its impressive architecture, this place is also symbolic since it was a tomb built by an emperor that was dedicated to his departed wife (who was one of five that he had in total). Yet like many other popular sites, this place also gets a lot of tourists. Four million each year, to be exact, according to CNN. While this may seem annoying at best, there’s a more pressing matter that makes this a problem. Because the nearby Yamuna River’s water level has been decreasing recently, CNN says it is “Affecting the wooden foundation” of the Taj Mahal.
13 Equator Line, Bonjol - Not Very Interesting
When it comes to basic geography, everyone knows that the Equator is an invisible line that divides the Earth horizontally from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It is also known for having the hottest areas temperature-wise, so a majority of them tend to either be rainforests or deserts. Yet there are some places like the sub district of Bonjol in Indonesia where one can actually cross the Equator line which has a physical marker as shown in the above picture. There’s also a museum nearby, though it’s claimed to be rundown with not a lot to offer according to TripAdvisor.
12 Hartford Regional Market - Possibly a Tourist Attraction
Though it wasn’t specifically made to appeal to tourists, this place in Hartford, Connecticut, has been popular for locals and the region at large. Yet after several decades of operation, the place has started to become rundown with age. Then earlier this year, ownership of the market was transferred from Connecticut’s Department of Agriculture to the CRDA (Capital Region Development Authority) of Hartford which “Stirred up fears from tenants about the market’s future” according to the Hartford Courant. On top of that, there is talk of turning it into an attraction for tourists to bring in more jobs and money.
11 Tutankhamun’s Tomb - Replaced by a Replica
Located in the Valley of the Kings, this place has become iconic for a number of reasons. For instance, the supposed curse that followed its discovery inspired the various Mummy-related stories that are in pop culture today in the form of books and movies. So naturally, it’s visited by lots of people. However, like the Sistine Chapel, a considerable amount of damage has been caused to the tomb due to the air breathed by the constant stream of tourists which was making it deteriorate rapidly. So for the sake of preservation, “An exact replica was opened nearby” CNN states.
10 Blackpool - Fracking Problems
For centuries, this small town near Manchester, England, has been a popular resort to travel to during the summer months that only became more convenient with the improvement of transportation. While it’s not as relevant as it used to be, it’s still popular with several noteworthy landmarks to its name. Yet earlier this year, there have been some fracking operations going on nearby that have affected the town environmentally which was hit with a “1.5-magnitude quake” according to The Guardian. Because fracking involves pumping lots of stuff into the ground below to release gas, it often causes artificial earthquakes.
9 Santa Claus - Arizona’s (Attempted) Winter Wonderland
So picture this: a Christmas-themed town in the middle of the desert. If that sounds far-fetched, then say hello to Santa Claus, Arizona! Established in the 1930s, it offered places like the Santa Claus Inn where children could meet the guy in the red suit “Even if it wasn't December” as stated by INSIDER. Because it was along Route 66, this town became pretty popular among those who were traveling on this road during the 50s and 60s. Yet as fewer people came through overtime, the town eventually crumbled into the ghost town shown in the above picture.
8 Cementland - An Industrial Art Exhibit
Though this place did get its share of visitors (as the above picture shows), it wasn’t finished in terms of its construction. To elaborate, the place began as an actual cement factory outside St. Louis that got abandoned until a sculptor named Bob Cassilly decided to convert it into an art exhibit and theme park dedicated to industry according to INSIDER. However, midway through its construction Cassilly suffered a fatal accident which caused the half-finished park to be abandoned in turn. While the place has since been vandalized, INSIDER says, Cassilly’s family has made plans to potentially restore it.
7 Orpheum Theater, New Bedford - Music Hall of the Past
Despite what it looks like now, this Massachusetts theater was quite popular back in the day. Having “Opened in 1912,” INSIDER states, it was “Home to opera, theatrical, and vaudeville performances”. Now while these may seem old-fashioned by today’s standards, they were the primary forms of entertainment before movie theaters and many other places with a similar purpose. Then after it closed in the 1950s, Orpheum Theater was passed down “To various buyers over the years” according to INSIDER. Though that didn’t seem to prevent it from being abandoned, there are efforts currently being made to renovate the place.
6 Molokai - 70s Resort
As popular as the state of Hawaii is as a vacation spot during the winter months, some islands are less popular than others. For instance, Molokai (traditionally spelled as Molokaʻi) is considered to be “One of the least-visited islands in Hawaii” as stated by INSIDER. Though that didn’t stop a resort from being built upon this island, which happened during the 70s. Since then, it “Went through several owners before finally being abandoned in 2001 after the property went bankrupt” INSIDER says. In the following years, it’s been left alone to gradually fall apart as the above picture shows.
5 Garnet - Once a Mining Town
Among the various ghost towns scattered throughout the United States, this is one of the well-preserved ones. Originally a mining town during the Gold Rush, it was reputed to have “1,000 residents, saloons, stores, and 20 working mines” as claimed by INSIDER. Yet as everyone knows, the Gold Rush didn’t last forever leading to a decrease in population within the town itself. Then a fire happened in 1912, INSIDER says, which was ironically the same year that the Orpheum Theater in New Bedford, Massachusetts, opened. So it became a ghost town, despite briefly being occupied again during the 30s.
4 Holy Land U.S.A. - Disneyland for Religious People
For all those devout Christians who ever wanted to experience the fun of an amusement park that’s catered to their personal beliefs, then Holy Land is just the right place! Although, it hasn’t been a functioning amusement park since the 1980s. Built by a man named John Baptist Greco, which is quite the fitting name given what he created, this place is reputed to contain “A miniature Bethlehem” as well as “A replica of the Garden of Eden” among other things according to INSIDER. Now legend has it the reason Greco did this was because God himself told him to.
3 Salton Riviera - An Inland Sea that Stinks
Also called Bombay Beach, this was an area that was popular along the coast of the inland Salton Sea of California. In fact, it was pretty upscale during the 1950s and 60s according to INSIDER with lots of “Yacht clubs, fancy hotels, and boardwalks”. But overtime, the place became less occupied as the sea experienced significant flooding followed by a gradual receding of the waters. On top of that, the lack of rainfall and draining caused the Salton Sea to become pretty salty. There was even a point when it became “Saltier than the Pacific Ocean” as stated by INSIDER.
2 Hudson River State Hospital - ‘Modern’ Medicine
With the development of technology, the way we understand the world also changes. Such was the case for the treatments practiced in this hospital, which were considered to be progressive at the time it was in service which began in the Nineteenth century. Yet some of the methods it employed, such as electroshock therapy and lobotomies according to INSIDER, are now labeled as inhumane (because they are by today’s standards). Yet this hospital remained open until the early 2000s, which shut down and became abandoned. Ironically, though, the state of New York has designated it into “A historic landmark” INSIDER says.
1 For the brave only: North Face, Eiger - Dark Side of the Mountain
If this picture alone isn’t scary enough, then surely these routes will which include: Shattered Pillar, Difficult Crack, Brittle Ledges, and The White Spider. All of these, according to Wanderlust, are along the northern face of Eiger, a mountain that lies in Switzerland. To this day, not many people have successfully ascended this part of the mountain. The only exception was in 1938 when an expedition led by Austrian and German climbers did, as stated by Wanderlust, and they were probably the ones who came up with the routes. Therefore, one would have to be pretty experienced to try it.
Resources: thisisinsider.com, wanderlust.co.uk, cnn.com, metro.us, courant.com, tripadvisor.com, theguardian.com