- Entire towns that were once bustling and full of life are now uninhabited.
- Whether natural disasters or radioactive threats forced residents to flee, these towns were left entirely empty – and are now a source of intrigue.
- Here are 13 towns that were left abandoned and how they ended up that way.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Nothing can quite intrigue and horrify us in equal parts like a town that was abandoned in its entirety.
Whether you’re looking for a creepy, off-the-beaten-path way to spend a day or a backdrop for a chilling photo series, we’ve rounded up the 13 most photogenic and terrifying ghost towns around the world.
This hillside ghost down was founded in the 8th century, and sits on a cliff that’s 1,312 feet off the ground. The city emptied due to various natural disasters. In 1963, many evacuated after a landslide; in 1972 a flood made conditions even more precarious; and in 1980 an earthquake caused the town to be abandoned in its entirety.
A locked gate surrounds the city, so visitors must book a guided tour. Thanks to a miraculously unscathed statue of the Virgin Mary, the town hosts various religious festivals throughout the year. And despite the fact that the area is a ticking time bomb, the city has been used for several films, including “Passion of the Christ.”
This mill town produced millions of dollars worth of copper between 1911 and 1938, but once the supply was depleted, the remote town had little to offer.
Residents started to leave en masse. By 1950 there wasn’t a soul left in town, and it’s been a ghost town ever since. When it became a National Historic Landmark in 1986, the National Park Service took over most of the land and started offering tours.
Kolmanskop was at its liveliest in the early 1900s, when German miners came to the area to hunt for diamonds. With them, they brought German architecture, giving the desert area an opulent, out of place look. The town featured a ballroom, a hospital, and a bowling alley among other amenities.
The town’s decline began shortly after World War I, but the final nail in the coffin was the 1928 discovery of a diamond-rich area along the coast. Most of Kolmanskop’s residents hurried to the new hotspot, leaving their belongings and the town behind.
Kolmanskop has been slowly getting eaten by the desert ever since. Tours to Kolmanskop can be booked in the nearby coastal town of Lüderitz.
Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island was once known for its undersea coal mines, which began operations in 1881. The island hit peak population in 1959 with over 5,000 residents (mine workers and their families), but once the mines started to run dry in 1974 most people left.
The once thriving island is now completely abandoned, with the exception of the sightseeing tours that drop off boatloads of tourists each day who come to see the abandoned homes, stores, and streets.
Thurmond, West Virginia
Thrumond isn’t technically a ghost town, but the nearly deserted spot is still a sight to behold. Formerly a coal town with a bustling population, it boasted a whopping five residents at the 2010 Census. Once a popular stop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, its depot is now a museum.
So while there are inhabitants in the town, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s often hard to tell as there is next to nothing to do, see, or even hear.
Ross Island, India
Vegetation has all but consumed the remains of the the island, which was once referred to as the “Paris of the East.”
In its prime, the island was home to British government officials, as well as a penal settlement set up after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The British residents made it their home with extravagant dance halls, bakeries, clubs, pools, and gardens, until 1941 brought an earthquake and an invasion by the Japanese. Ross Island was then alternately claimed by the Japanese and British, until 1979 when the island was given to the Indian Navy, which established a small base there.
Today, tour groups visit the island almost every day.
When the Chisos Mining Company opened in the mid 1800s, workers and their families quickly relocated to Terlingua, Texas. The population was around 3,000 at its peak in 1903, but, as of the last Census in 2010, only 58 people remain.
Those who still live there reside in “Terlingua Proper” and make good business off of the frequent tourists who stop by to see the abandoned churches and buildings that still stand, as well as visitors to the surrounding Big Bend parks.
Similar to Terlingua, this empty town started with a mining company in 1881. When silver was discovered the town boomed, becoming home to over 500 silver mines and 3,000 residents, but once the mines were depleted and the price of silver dropped people left.
By 1986 the town – which featured hotels, general stores, bars, and restaurants, as well as a newspaper and school – was empty. But Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm fame) bought the town and restored it, and today it’s a registered Historical Landmark that’s open to the public and even features a museum of the Old West.
This city in northern Ukraine is probably the most famous ghost town in the world. It was home to almost 50,000 people before everyone was evacuated in April 1986, when part of a nearby power plant – the Chernobyl Nuclear Station – exploded.
The Chernobyl disaster caused such high levels of radiation that people were forced to evacuate immediately and leave non-essentials behind. It’s those items, which include dolls, gas masks, clothes and furniture, that draw in photographers and thrill-seekers year after year.
The radiation levels have finally dropped enough for scientists to mark the area as safe to visit, meaning that you can explore the creepy town and its many schools, hospitals, stores, gyms, cinemas, factories, and even its amusement park to your heart’s content.
Garnet is another mining town that has seen better days. The leaning log cabins are all that remain of the early 19th century town that was once home to 1,000.
Garnet is now known as Montana’s best-preserved ghost town, and can be explored for only $3. There are campgrounds nearby for people looking to get an overnight experience.
Virginia City, Montana, U.S.
This former gold mining town, which was founded in 1863 and once housed 10,000 residents, has been completely preserved as a National Historical Landmark.
Instead of deserted streets and rolling tumbleweeds, tourists who visit will get a taste of what life here was really like, thanks to unchanged store fronts, houses, and buildings teeming with performers who bring the history of the town to life. There’s even an opera house that performs vaudeville theater.
Animas Forks, Colorado
What was once a bustling mining town on Colorado’s Alpine Loop is now a desolate patch of land scattered with a few decrepit buildings. At its peak, the town had 30 cabins, a hotel, a general store, a saloon, and a post office, but these days only nine rickety cabins and a small jail remain.
Some claim that this town once housed thousands of people, but you wouldn’t know by the looks of it today. This old mining town was a hotspot for miners and their families in the beginning of the 1900’s, but by the 1920s the population was close to zero. However, Charles Schwab invested a lot of money into the town in the hopes of finding gold, meaning that it boasted a school, a hospital, stores, hotels, and even a stock exchange and a symphony.
Briefly a set for old Western movies, today the ghost town features an outdoor sculpture park and tons of outsider art.