Popular Places That Are Now Ghost Towns

Popular Places That Are Now Ghost Towns

Do you ever wonder what the world would look like if humans were gone? Abandoned places can be ghastly and charming at the same time. Rundown, frozen in time, and often hidden, uninhibited buildings and cities continue to fascinate. It doesn't take a very long time for nature to overtake what people had once built and occupied.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

Oradour-sur-Glane was a small farming village. During World War II, it was located in the German-occupied zone of France. On June 10, 1944, German troops killed 642 people, almost the entire population, and then destroyed the village, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. After the war, Oradour-sur-Glane became an iconic symbol of German crimes against civilians.

Bodie, California

This town east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County is described as "a town frozen in time in a state of arrested decay." Bodie was established in 1859 and people came for the gold. When they didn't find as much as they were hoping, people left. The town is now a State Historic Park. Most of the ghost town has remained untouched. Tourists can walk down the deserted streets and feel as if they're in an episode of Westworld.

Copehill Down, Wiltshire, England

Copehill Down is actually a mock village built by the British army as a copy of a German village at the end of the Cold War to practice their urban warfare skills and close quarters fighting, according to Amusing Planet. Called a "FIBUA" (Fighting In Built-Up Areas) village, Copehill Down is just one of the handful of villages scattered around the country.

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Often referred to as Namibia's Ghost Town, Kolmanskop was once the site of a diamond rush and a bustling city for German miners, according to Naminibian.org. Eventually, it peaked and saw its decline after World War I, when inhabitants left in search of new diamond deposits. Many of the buildings still stand, but much of the city has been claimed by sand. It gives off eerie vibes that attract curious souls — including ghost hunters — from all over the world.

Novi Cidade de Kilamba (Kilamba New City), Angola

Kilamba is the largest of several "satellite cities" being built by Chinese firms in Angola, according to news reports. But it has no residents, even though it was designed to house more than 500,000 people. Located in an isolated spot about 18 miles outside Angola's capital, Luanda, Nova Cidade de Kilamba is a mixed residential development of 750 apartment buildings, several schools and more than 100 retail units. Building the city cost about $3.5 billion.

Pripyat, Ukraine

The small city of Pripyat was home to 49,000 residents until it was evacuated and abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Although the area remains uninhabited, the ghost town is overrun by nature and has been deemed safe to visit. Some outfitters there offer guided tours of the site. Trees grow in schools, piles of books can be found in libraries, and dolls can still be seen on kindergarten classroom floors.

Terlingua, Texas

Terlingua refers to a mining district in Texas' southwestern Brewster County. The discovery of cinnabar in the mid-1880s drew miners to the area, creating a city of 2,000 people. The only remnants nowadays are a ghost town of the Howard Perry-owned Chisos Mining Company and several nearby capped and abandoned mines, according to Desert USA. "Rush hour" is when three people on horse ride one after another on the road.

Varosha, Cyprus

The formerly booming tourist resort for the rich and famous is now just miles of sand where it's only you and nature; dozens of grand hotels stand empty. Forty years ago, after years of inter-ethnic violence culminating in a coup inspired by Greece's ruling military junta, Turkey invaded Cyprus and occupied the northern third of the island, according to the BBC. As troops approached, residents fled and never came back.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

This is a near-ghost town in Columbia County. The place is known for its underground mine fire that has been ongoing since 1962. Touch the ground and you'll see that it's still warm, even in the winter. Only a handful of residents still live in this once-prosperous mining town. Poisonous smoke seeps up from the ground, killing any sign of plant life on the surface. The deadly carbon monoxide led has left nothing but a barren wilderness.

Goldfield, Arizona

Located atop a small hill between the Superstition Mountains and the Goldfield Mountains, the settlement got its start in 1892, when very rich, high-grade gold ore was found in the area. For five years the town boomed until some 1,500 people were residing in the expanding city. Its best days were dashed when the vein of gold ore started to play out. Just five years after it began, the town began quickly dying.

Rhyolite, Nevada

The ghost town once had more than 10,000 residents. They had an active social life including baseball games, dances, a symphony, basketball games, and weekend nightlife, according to the National Park Service. The financial panic of 1907 was the beginning of the end for the town. There are several remnants of Rhyolite's best days; some of the walls of the three-story bank building are still standing, as is part of the old jail. The train depot and the bottle house are two of the few complete buildings left in the town.

Kayaköy, Turkey

This is the country's religious ghost town. Until the deportations in 1923 of Christians and Greek Muslims, Muslims and Christians had lived in peace in Kayaköy since the 14th century. Formerly known as Levissi, Kayaköy was a flourishing community of some 10,000 until the early 1920s, according to the BBC. Muslim farmers exiled from Greece went to Kayaköy but left soon after.

San Zhi, Taiwan

The UFO-looking houses were meant to comprise a seaside resort, but the settlement was left abandoned in 1980 before it even opened after several mysterious events including suicides. It is now an underground tourist attraction, mostly due to paranormal rumors.

Kennecott, Alaska

The National Park Service acquired many of the significant buildings and lands of this historic mining town. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1986, Kennecott is considered the best remaining example of early-20th-century copper mining, according to NPS.

St. Elmo, Colorado

St. Elmo was originally settled in 1878. People were going after for the gold and silver that were abundant in the area. The failure of numerous mines and the closure of the Alpine Tunnel in 1910 started the decline of St. Elmo, according to Legends of America. In 2002, a fire destroyed six of the buildings, including the old town hall and jail and several dwellings.

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island is one of more than 500 unpopulated islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, standing at 40 square miles in size. It was home to a major coal mining operation managed by Mitsubishi until 1974. It was actually one of the most densely populated places in world history with 83,500 people per square kilometer at its peak. The island is also known as "Battleship Island" because of its external appearance.