15 Creepy, Strange, and Wonderful Abandoned Places You Can Visit
The world is full of dreamy locations where you can relax on a sandy beach sipping cocktails or sightsee in an old European town. These are all great ways to experience a foreign country, but not everyone feels the same. Some people prefer seeking out abandoned places that have been left untouched by humans for decades.
Known as urban explorers, this group of inquisitive minds loves nothing more than walking through old buildings left to rot. These eerie locations range from abandoned mental facilities and theme parks to entire towns left uninhabited. Many of these locations also have creepy backstories and are associated with disasters or are believed to be haunted, which makes them even more attractive for urban explorers.
If you think you’d like to ditch your normal holiday for something a bit different, here are some of the best-abandoned places to explore. Situated all across the world, some might find you in hot water if caught trespassing, but it will be worth it for the photos you get. Many of these locations are now being turned into tourist attractions to capitalize on people’s want to discover abandoned locations.
1. Pripyat, Chernobyl, Ukraine
The most famous abandoned location on this list is the city of Pripyat. Founded in the 70s, the Ukraine city was erected near the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and used as one of nine cities to serve the people working there. But it now sits empty after the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986.
The entire population (close to 50,000) was evacuated in just four hours and never returned. The city now sits abandoned and is never likely to be reopened. While you once had to sneak into the city, there are now tours that run regularly where people can explore Pripyat. Blocks of flats stand empty and children’s toys are still visible on desks in the primary school. The famous Ferris Wheel of the town’s amusement park is also still standing.
Just be warned that the area is still very much contaminated. There is a chance you could fall ill from the radiation, but the dose is that small you would be highly unlucky to suffer any real effects from visiting the area.
2. SS Ayrfield, Sydney, Australia
This shipwreck is located in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia. The bay was once a thriving trading port before closing and is now part of a large commercial and residential area. There are a number of wrecks left that you can visit, with the SS Ayrfield the most well-known.
First launched in 1911, this ship transported supplies during World War II before finally being decommissioned and left in Homebush Bay, along with several other ships. The wreck is now a hub of vegetation, with a mini-forest growing out of the hull. Mangrove trees have taken over and turned the decaying ship into a beautiful water garden.
3. Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, USA
Who would have thought there would be a castle near New York? Pollepel Island on the Hudson River is home to Bannerman Castle, an abandoned military surplus warehouse. Built by Francis Bannerman VI in 1900, the castle was used to store weapons and ammunition from Bannerman’s expanding military surplus business.
Bannerman continued to construct new areas of the castle right up until his death in 1918. An explosion caused by gunpowder destroyed part of the castle and when the local ferry was destroyed in a storm – which was the only way to get to the island from the mainland – the island was left abandoned.
The castle is currently being looked after by “The Bannerman Castle Trust, Inc,” with people now able to visit the castle and explore the ruins while also checking out art exhibitions, take part in walking tours around the grounds to learn the history of the castle, and attend theatre shows.
4. Kolmanskop, Namibia, Africa
This ghost town in the Namibian desert was once a thriving metropolis that was started by German settlers after a diamond was found there. But after mining the town for everything, the Germans soon left after World War II, leaving the town abandoned. There isn’t much of a town left anymore, with sandstorms eroding many of the buildings and covering the houses.
It is now a destination for tourists, partially photographers, with the now deserted town providing some incredible photographic opportunities.
5. Chateau Miranda, Celles, Belgium
The Chateau Miranda is best known for being used in the filming of the television series Hannibal. Designed by English architect Edward Milner, building began in 1866 and was completed in 1907. The gothic-style castle was home to the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family until the German army invaded and occupied the property for a short period during World War II.
The National Railway Company of Belgium moved into the chateau in 1950 before it became an orphanage and was eventually abandoned in 1991. A fire damaged part of the structure and the chateau quickly became a haven for urban explorers until it was demolished in 2016
6. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, USA
This former prison in Philadelphia was once home to gangster Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton. Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was the most expensive building in America at that time. The penitentiary is the first to have a wagon wheel design, which soon became the norm for many prisons built after.
Strangely, for a prison, Eastern State Penitentiary is wonderfully designed with grand arches, high ceilings, and impressive architecture. When it closed in 1971, the abandoned prison quickly fell into disrepute. A forest grew in the cell blocks and many stray cats made the deserted building home.
These days Eastern State Penitentiary is a tourist attraction, with part of the prison open for visitors to explore. There is also a museum where you can find out more about the prison and an annual haunted house attraction opens during October, although the prison is not thought to be haunted.
7. Tianducheng, Hangzhou, China
You might think you are looking at a photo of Paris, but it’s actually the Chinese city Tianducheng. Built to replicate the famous European city, it even continas a 300-foot Eiffel Tower. Located just 40 minutes from Hangzhou, the city was constructed in 2007 as a tribute to Paris.
Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on, with only a few thousand residents moving into the city, which has a capacity of around 10,000. The streets are often empty during the day and it feels like you are walking through a deserted Paris, except you are actually in China.
8. Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit, USA
Registered as a historic sight, the Lee Plaza Hotel is a 16-story abandoned building in Detroit, Michigan. The building was completed in 1929, with the hotel’s design influenced by the Art Deco scene of that period. But since its opening, it has struggled due to financial issues, with the luxury accommodation aimed at long-term guests turning into a low-budget hotel that failed to attract people.
The hotel eventually closed in 1997 and has become a favorite spot for urban explorers. But it could soon be back up and running after the Roxbury Group and Ethos Development Partners purchased the building for just $350,000 in 2019. They are looking to redevelop the hotel and turn it into a luxury apartment building that will open in 2025.
9. City Hall Station, New York, USA
The City Hall Station was once an important part of the New York City subway system when it opened in 1904. It was one of the 28 original stations built, but as more and more of the population began using the subway, City Hall Station was deemed too small to handle the traffic and closed in 1945.
Featuring a curved platform, Spanish-inspired arches, brass chandeliers, and glass skylights, the City Hall Station is an impressive construction. While there have been plans to re-open the station over the years, it has now been turned into a museum, with people able to take guided tours of the underground station.
10. Houtouwan, Shengshan Island, China
Abandoned places don’t get much more scenic than the former fishing village of Houtouwan. Situated on one of the 400 Shegnshan Islands, this village has been left to nature after the 2,000 odd residents left during the 90s.
What makes it such a tourist attraction is the fact that lush vegetation has taken over, covering many of the buildings and structures in the town. It makes for a great photo opportunity, with many tourists visiting the fishing village to take some snaps.
11. Slab City, California, USA
Once an abandoned World War II Marine Corps Camp, Slab City is now home to those who want to live off the grid. Named after the giant slabs of concrete littered around the land, the former artillery training range was settled by several veterans who had previously worked at the base before it closed in the mid-50s.
The large area in the California desert soon began to attract people who wanted to move away from regular society, and a community was soon born. There are many art installations built in and around Slab City, which also has a community church, library, skatepark, and hostel for those who wish to visit.
While not a totally abandoned place like many of the locations on this list, Slab City does have a very small population, especially in the summer months, and you can often travel around Slab City without seeing another soul.
11. The Maunsell Sea Forts, England
These armed towers were built during World War II to protect England during the war. Decommissioned in the 50s, pirate radio stations soon took over the towers, broadcasting tunes to the mainland. Only one of the forts is still occupied today. It is run by the Principality of Sealand and can be visited by tourists. But be warned, it’s not easy making your way there. You can only reach the sea fort via boat and then must be lifted onto the structure by a winch, as there are no ladders.
12. Hashima Island, Nagasaki, Japan
Off the coast of Japan some nine miles from Nagasaki, Hashima Island is an abandoned city that was once a bustling metropolis. Established in 1887, the city was home to over 5,000 people who worked in the undersea mines on the island. When the coal mine closed in 1974, all the people on the island left.
Hashima Island was cut off from the rest of the world and mostly forgotten until it became a hot spot for urban explorers in the early 00s. As interest in the abandoned place continued, it was opened as a tourist destination in 2009, with people able to walk around the mostly still intact city.
This is a true ghost town, as it feels like everyone just disappeared overnight. Making the perfect lair for a Bond villain, Hashima Island is actually featured in the James Bond movie Skyfall, along with several other Japanese movies.
13. City Methodist Church, Gary, Indiana
Abandoned churches are always creepy, and the City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana is no different. Built in 1926, this nine-story construction contains not only a church, but a 1,000-seat theatre, offices, gym, dining hall, and Sunday School building. There’s even an unfinished rooftop garden.
The City Methodist Church closed in 1975 and has been slowly left to decay over the decades. A fire in 1997 damaged much of the structure but the main section of the church remains. The gothic-style church has had many of the fixtures stolen over the years and is covered in graffiti. If it looks familiar, that’s because it has featured in several big-budget movies, including Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pearl Harbor, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
14. Great Train Graveyard, Uyuni, Bolivia
When you think of Bolivia, images of jungles and lush vegetation come to mind. While this is true, the country also has large areas of desert, with one containing a train graveyard. Just a short distance from Uyuni, it is known as the Great Train Graveyard and is home to dozens of abandoned trains.
Uyuni was once a great hub for transportation during the 19th century. Plans were made to make Uyuni one of the main train stations in the country, but finance and technical difficulties meant the plans were nixed. All the trains and equipment that had been brought out to the city were left to rot in the sand. There are over 100 carriages and head motors in the graveyard that have been corded after years out in the elements.
15. Haludovo Palace Hotel, Krk, Croatia
Unlike many of the abandoned places on this list, Haludovo Place Hotel is a modern structure that looks slightly out of place on the lush island of Krk, Croatia. Opened in 1971, the hotel complex used to host a long list of famous clients visiting from Yugoslavia. It went through numerous owners in the 90s until Haludovo Palace was eventually closed in 2001.
While many of the major structures have decayed and fallen down, such as the casino and tennis courts, the main area of the hotel is still standing and can be accessed by people looking to explore.
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