6 abandoned sites worldwide that inspire awe and unease

Posted on 14 August 2023 By Tsoku Maela

There’s an uncanny allure and a captivating charm found in forsaken places. Be it the train graveyard in Bolivia, the Art Deco subway station hidden beneath New York City, or the coastal Namibian village that succumbed to encroaching sand dunes, each spot encapsulates a frozen moment of history. As you journey through these spellbinding locations across the globe, you’ll encounter poignant echoes of the past, where even shattered glass and dust can’t obscure the underlying beauty.

Allow us to take you on a tour of six abandoned locales worldwide that will simultaneously captivate and send shivers down your spine.

1. Bodie, California

Bodie State Historic Park

Once inhabited by a bustling population of 10,000 during the late 1870s and 1880s gold rush, Bodie thrived amid the hills encircling Mono Lake. Now a State Historic Park, segments of the town remain preserved in a state of “arrested decay.” Imagine tables set for meals and stores stocked with essentials, providing a glimpse into bygone days.

Also read: Desert countries to visit: 5 things to do in Morocco

2. Power Plant IM, Belgium

Erected in 1921, the Power Plant IM in Charleroi once ranked as Belgium’s largest coal-fired power station. Its towering cooling apparatus (pictured) was capable of chilling 480,000 gallons of water per minute during its zenith. Yet, substantial power was accompanied by substantial pollution, contributing 10 per cent of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions. After Greenpeace’s protests, the site ceased operations in 2007. Although electricity no longer surges within, the abandoned towers still yield hauntingly exquisite panoramas.

3. The Maunsell Sea Forts, England

The Maunsell Forts are armed towers built during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They are located in the Thames and Mersey estuaries.

Despite their resemblance to props from an H.G. Wells film, these colossal metal spires in the Thames estuary were strategically erected to shield England from German aerial attacks during WWII. Decommissioned in the 1950s, these abandoned bastions harbored pirate radio broadcasters in subsequent years. One fort is now overseen by the micronation Principality of Sealand; the rest offer a captivating sight from the safety of a vessel or, on clear days, Shoebury East Beach’s shores.

4. Haludovo Palace Hotel, Croatia

Šárka Hyková / Unsplash

The Haludovo Palace Hotel exudes an era that’s neither definitively contemporary nor firmly past. Its futuristic design and modular architecture contrast with its state of decay. Erected on Krk Island in 1971, the complex follows the style emblematic of Communist-era construction. Despite decades of hosting celebrities and world leaders in Yugoslavia, the hotel’s decline coincided with the 1990s conflict, leading to its closure in 2001. While the casinos, saunas, and courts languish in disrepair, the skeletal structures stand, and a visit to this Croatian island retreat remains a cherished experience.

5. Houtouwan, China

This picture taken on May 31, 2018 shows abandoned village houses covered with overgrown vegetation in Houtouwan on Shengshan island, China’s eastern Zhejiang province. Houtouwan was a thriving fishing community of sturdy brick homes that climb up the steeply hilled island of Shenghshan, but is now abandoned, with entire houses completely overgrown as if vacuum-sealed in a lush layer of green. (Picture: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Residing approximately 87 miles southeast of Shanghai on Shengshan Island, Houtouwan is a former fishing village abandoned for decades. Yet, unlike conventional ghost towns shrouded in debris, nature has reclaimed these buildings. Verdant ivy and lush vegetation adorn the structures, crafting a vibrant landscape more splendid than sorrowful. While most original inhabitants moved inland in the early 1990s, a handful of residents remain, vending water to curious visitors and photographers.

6. Kolmanskop, Namibia

House in abandoned town of Kolmanskop, deserted diamond mining town in middle of dunes of Namib desert.

Though its current appearance may belie its history, the town of Kolmanskop once gleamed as a hub of diamond mining and opulence back in 1908. However, the moment subsequent diamond deposits were unearthed to the south, Kolmanskop’s allure dwindled, transforming it into an abandoned spectre of its former self. Today, it’s renowned for its unsettling houses, swallowed by sand, making cinematic appearances in productions like Dust Devil (1993) and The King Is Alive (2000).


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