Towns long abandoned can offer a fascinating yet haunting glimpse into the lives of communities from years gone by. Discover our top 10 ghost towns in the world.
Kayakoy is a village in south-western Turkey. Following the conclusion of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922 the town was completely abandoned by the 2,000 Greek Christians who had lived there. Nowadays it is a ghost town with hundreds of abandoned Greek-style house, many of which are rundown but still standing.
Since it is now a museum village, it is often visited by tourists and vendors take advantage of this, selling handmade goods.
The Indian village of Bhangarh is famous for its historical ruins which date back to the 16th century. The town was created under the rule of Bhagwant Das but slowly declined over the years. A famine occurred in 1783 and the town has been uninhabited ever since.
Meanwhile the Bhangarh fort is said to be haunted and entry at night is prohibited. Tales are still told of ghosts that roam the old town.
Humberstone and Santa Laura, Chile
The name may sound unusual and that’s because Humberstone and Santa Laura were home to saltpeter mines before being abandoned in 1960. Located in the remote desert of Pampa, they were founded in 1872 and to this day the buildings are still well preserved and include a theatre, hotel and a swimming pool.
It was in 2005 that they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 1970 they have been open to tourism.
Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
Located in north-western New Mexico, Chaco Canyon was a cultural center for the Ancient Pueblo people. The Chacoans built some huge buildings. For some time the civilisation thrived however a drought lasting some decades began in 1130 and eventually led to the abandonment of the canyon.
Nowadays Chaco Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the site is fragile and is inaccessible to the public. The Hopi and Pueblo people consider the site to be sacred and park preservation tries to be respectful of this.
The Californian ghost town of Bodie is recognized by the U.S Department of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark. It began as a mining camp following the discovery of gold and the town flourished in the late 19th century.
Thanks to being a gold mining center, the town had a range of amenities that were beyond towns of its size. This included some 65 saloons. The town declined with the mining industry and was labelled a ghost town as soon as 1915.
Kolmanskop can be found in the Nabib Desert in southern Namibia. In 1908 a diamond was discovered by a worker who showed it to his German supervisor. As a result, German miners came to the settlement and even the German government got involved.
The wealth from the diamond mining resulted in the construction of a German style town which included a hospital, school and casino to name just a few of the facilities. Like many mining towns it declined with the industry and was abandoned in 1954.
Pyramiden, Svalbard, Norway
Pyramiden translates as ‘The Pyramid’ and is an abandoned Russian settlement located in Svalbard, Norway. The settlement was originally founded in 1910 by Sweden but was later sold to the Soviet Union in 1927. Once with a population of 1,000, the coal mining community was abandoned in 1998 once the last coal was extracted.
Almost everything was left in its place and in recent years there have been attempts to turn Pyramiden into a tourist attraction.
A haunting reminder of the Spanish Civil War, Belchite is in north-eastern Spain. It was in 1937 that General Franco’s rebels fought the Spanish Republican’s in a battle that destroyed the town.
Nowaday it remains a ghost town and a memorial to the war. Visitors can wander among the ruins which have remained largely intact. It is now referred to as Old Belchite since a new village was built next to the ruins. Belchite’s ruins have been the location of several films including Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient Roman town of Herculaneum was destroyed by a volcanic eruption from Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. It was a seemingly wealth town with many large, fine houses. Much has been uncovered over the years including beds, food and hundreds of skeletons which were left in a state of preservation.
Many of the public and private buildings are still being excavated which may well uncover more secrets as to how people of the time lived. This sense of mystery places Herculaneum in second place in our top 10 ghost towns list.
St. Elmo, Colorado
Founded in 1880, St. Elmo is a ghost town situated at the heart of the Sawatch Range in Colorado, USA. Once upon a time there were some 2,000 people living in St. Elmo thanks to the gold and silver mining industry. It once included a telegraph office, general store, several hotels and saloons to name just a few places.
Following the decline of the mining industry the population quickly depleted and the result is a ghost town that is well preserved and popular among tourists to this day. It is this preservation that makes St. Elmo our top ghost town.