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Architecture

Top 12 Coolest Ghost Towns In The World

Published May 21, 2016
The world is full of ghost towns! There are completely abandoned cities all around the globe. Towns that has suffered from accidents, wars, financial crises and natural disasters, but still stands like monuments of the changes of daily life. Here are the top 12 coolest ghost towns in the world.
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12. Craco, Italy

Craco is a medieval ghost town in southern Italy. It was built around a thousand years ago on top of a 400 m (1,312 ft) tall cliff. The city had 1,800 residents in the middle of the 20th century, but recurring earthquakes started to wear down the houses and the cliff. The city eventually became uninhabitable, mainly because of the many landslides caused by the earthquakes, and the population had to move to another village in 1963. Craco has been deserted ever since, but many movies have been filmed here because of the unique environment. Such films include the Bond movie Quantum of Solace Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

11. Sewell, Chile

The colorful city of Sewell it situated high up on the slopes of the Andes in Chile, and is one of the many abandoned mining towns in the world. The town was founded in 1904 by an American mining company and got its name after the company's president, Barton Sewell. It was built on top of a rich deposit of copper at an altitude of between 2,000 and 2,250 m (6,660 and 7,380 ft) and became home for the miners and their families. Due to the inclining mountain the city got almost no roads, mostly stairs. The city grew and a total of 14,000 people lived here in 1918. When the whole mine had been exploited in 1977 the residents was moved down into the valley and the town was emptied. Today Sewell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can be visited with a tour guide.
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10. Agdam, Azerbaijan

Agdam is a ghost town in Azerbaijan that used to have 40,000 residents. In 1993 the town was invaded by forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan with a majority of Armenians who wants a sovereign state. Many of the residents where killed and the rest fled. Then the Armenian forces destroyed most of the town to prevent Azerbaijanis from wanting it back. Since then, the houses has been robbed of bricks and started to naturally decompose. Today Agdam is used as a buffer zone by the Armenian army against Azerbaijan.

9. Plymouth, Montserrat

Plymouth is the former capital of the British territory of Montserrat, a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea. In 1995, the vulcano on Montserrat had a large eruption which covered the southern half of the island with lava and ash, including Plymouth. Most of the residents were evacuated in time before the city was fully covered, but 19 people was killed in the beginning of the eruption. Around 80 % of the buildings were completely destroyed and the larger part of Plymouth was buried under 1.4 m of ash. It was considered too hard and expensive to rebuild the town, so it was deserted together with the southern half of the island. Plymouth had been the largest city on Montserrat with a population of 4,000 people and almost all of the island's stores and authorities had been located there. Some of the establishments were reinstated elsewehere, but the majority of the two thirds of Mentserrat's population that had been evacuated has not returned.

8. Varosha (Famagusta), Cyprus

Varosha is part of the city of Famagusta on Cyprus. Varosha was one of the most glamourous tourist destinations in the 60s and 70s, with many rich and famous visitors. The city was then sealed off by the Turks during the Turkish invasion in 1974, and all the Greek Cypriots that had fled the area were never allowed to return. Today, Varosha is known as "the ghost town" among tourists, and the only thing moving in the area is Turkish military and UN peacekeepers. On one side of the military fence that surrounds the district lies holidaymakers on the beach enjoying the sun. On the other side are empty but still fully equipped hotels and stores, frozen in time since 1974.

7. Detroit, USA

To put Detroit on a list of ghost towns might seem surprising, but the fact is that there are over 80,000 abandoned building in the city. Detroit is the centre for the American car industry and is also known as "Motor City". The city had a population of 1.85 million in 1950 (not counting the suburbs), but that number had decreased to 714,000 in 2010. The large depopulation has mainly occured during the last 30 years and is due to financial crises and the fact that many car manufacturers has moved their factories to Asia. The city now fights high unemployment and a third of the residents are considered poor according to limits set by the UN. All the empty buildings in the city's centre are a big problem for the police since they attract vandals and looters. The photo shows Lee Plaza, a gaping skeleton that once upon a time was an exclusive apartment building.

6. Centralia, USA

The town of Centralia in Pennsylvania, USA, had 1,000 residents in 1981. Only around ten people live here today. The reason for the emigration is that there is a fire in an abandoned coal mine under the town and poisionous gases spoil the air. It is believed that a couple of firemen set fire to the mine in 1962 when they were going to burn garbage in the town's dump. Several attempts to put out the fire failed and it kept on burning in the ground during the 60s and 70s. The fire released unhealthy amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and the lack of oxygen could make the residents unusually sleepy. They started to release how serious it was in 1979 when the town's petrol station manager noticed that the tanks in the ground was 78 °C (172 °F) hot. Two years later, a 46 m (151 ft) deep sinkhole opened up under 12-year-old Todd, who only because of his quick-thinking cousin could be pulled to safety. The town started buying the houses of the residents, Centralia's zip code was deleted and Route 61 what went through the town was blocked with piles of dirt and rerouted. The area today looks mostly like overgrown fields, traversed by tarmac. Only a few of the houses still stands since most of them has been demolished or destroyed by nature. The only indications of the fire are some smoke plumes rising from cracks in the ground. The old coal mine is expected to burn for another 250 years, but a couple of families has despite the health risks refused to move.

5. Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima is an island outside the coast of mainland Japan, close to the city of Nagasaki. Beacuse of its looks it's also called "Gunkanjima", which is Japanese for "Battleship Island". Hashima was a coal mine facility owned by Mitsubishi and was inhabited by the miners and their families between 1887 and 1974. The island had 5,239 residents at most in its buildings, which are really close to each other and was the first buildings in Japan to be built out of concrete, in order to withstand the rough weather at sea. When the mine was closed in 1974 due to lack of demand, the island was left abandoned for 35 years until parts of it opened again for tourists in 2009. As the buildings has not been maintained since the closing of the mine, their condition is really bad and many of them has collapsed.

4. Beichuan, China

Beichuan in China was one of the towns hit hardest by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.9 and was one of the most powerful ever in the modern times. Around 80 % of the buildings in Beichuan, with a population of 20,000, collapsed and thousands died or suffered injuries. Aftershocks continued for months and this together with huge landslides made the city so unstable it was deserted for good. The survivors was relocated and Beichuan is today a ghost town and a memorial of the disaster.

3. Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat in northern Ukraine is probably the most famous ghost town in the world. Pripyat once had 50,000 residents, of which most worked at the nearby nuclear power plant of Chernobyl. On April 26, 1986, one of the reactors in the power plant exploded and a cloud of radioactive particles spread over large parts of Europe. The next day, the people of Pripyat was informed that the radioactivity level was rising and that they temporarely had to evacuate. Every apartment building was going to get a bus to go in and the people was informed to bring important documents and personal belongings. What they didn't know was that they were never going to move back again. Pripyat is now a looted and vandalized ghost town that can be visited by tourists with a guide and a permit. The city has slowly started to be taken over by nature and the area might not be habitable for centuries (it's safe to spend shorter periods of time there). The photo shows Chernobyl from one of the roof tops in Pripyat.

2. Oradour-Sur-Glane, France

Oradour-sur-Glane was a town in France that fell victim to one of the most horrific events of the Second World War. In connection with the D-Day a German Waffen-SS division marched through France to meet the Allies in Normandy. On the way the got word of a German SS officer held captive by the French Resistence in the village of Oradour-sur-Vayres. In order to free the officer, an SS batallion sealed off the town Oradour-sur-Glane, which they mistakenly took for Oradour-sur-Vayres. All women and children was locked in the town's church while the houses were looted. At the same time, all the men were taken to barns where machine guns had already been set up. The men were shot in their legs so they could not escape, then the Germans poured gasoline on them and ignited it. The SS men continued to the church where they exploded a fire bomb and then shot women and children as they tried to escape through doors and windows. A total of 642 people were murdered, including 247 women and 205 children. Only six men managed to escape from the barns, and only one woman and one child from the church. Around 20 people had managed to escape prior to the Germans entering the town. A new village with the same namn was built after the war, just next to the old one. Thw war-torn ruins were left standing as a reminder of the terrible massacre, and are today a popular tourist destination. Of all the abandoned towns in the world, Oradour-sur-Glane is definitely one of the most ghostly.

1. Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

Kowloon Walled City was a quarter in Hong Kong, and one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Kowloon Walled City doesn't actually fit this list of ghost towns since it no longer exists (it was demolished in 1994) and before that was never really deserted. But this place is just to interesting to leave out! Kowloon Walled City was a ghost town in the sense that is was abandoned by the government and the authorities. The whole weird story began in 1898 when China gave Hong Kong to the Brits, except a small area where the Chinese has a military fort surrounded by a steady wall. The area became an enclave, that is, an area belonging to one country (China) and completely surrounded by another country (Great Britain). The Chinese were allowed to use "the Walled City" as a sort of outpost, as long as they didn't disturb the British. However, the British governor Sir Henry Blake grew suspicious of the Chinese and attacked the outpost a year later. He thought the Chinese were gathering soldiers in Kowloon Walled City, but none where there when his troops arrived inside the walls, only to find one dignitary and 150 residents. The British claimed the area and among other things established a school and an old people's home in the old Chinese authority buildings. They then leaved the area relatively untouched until 1933 when they began demolishing the old buildings and moving the then 436 residents to new homes. When Hong Kong was occupied by Japan during the Second World War, the Japansese demolished the old walls to get stones for the expansion of the Kai Tak Airport nearby.
After the surrender of Japan in 1945 the Chinese announced that they would reclaim Kowloon Walled City, resulting in the area being occupied by 2,000 Chinese two years later. The British made an attempt to drive them away, but gave up and then let the district be. Now Kowloon Walled City became a politically sensitive territory neither the British nor the Chinese wanted anything to do with - a sort of no man's land. Instead, running the town were groups of criminals known from the notorious crime syndicate the Triads. Crime, drugs and prostitution flourished in the town, but there were also ordinary folks living their daily lives, going to school and working. People without permits to run businesses elsewhere could do so in this town outside the law, and self-appointed dentists open up practices. During the following decades, construction was made in all directions (there were hardly any building laws), and the buildings were eventually so close to each other that the sun never reached the ground. The only rule was that the buildings could not be taller than 14 stories because of the nearby airport. When there was no more space on the ground people started building houses on top of each other, until the whole area looked like stacked shoe boxes. In 1987, a total of 33,000 people lived in the tiny area. That same year however, China and the British had agreed that they could no longer ignore the area. Although Hong Kong gave certain services to Kowloon Walled City, such as water supply and mail delivery, the standard of living was way lower than in the rest of Hong Kong. It was not possible to keep accepting unregulated schools and clinics, and the district had to come down. The residents were offered compensation to move and the demolition of Kowloon Walled City was completed in 1994. The site is today home to a beautiful park, where parts of the old buildings have been saved as a memory of one of the strangest places that ever existed.
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