There is little more eerie than stepping foot into a derelict, decaying ghost town. These once-thriving communities lie frozen in time. Some tell haunting stories of their troubled pasts…
From towns scarred by violent pasts, to communities left to slip into disrepair, step back in time and take a look around the world’s most ghoulish ghost towns. These abandoned places are sure to send a chill down your spine.
1. Island of the Dolls, Mexico
L‘Isla de las Muñecas was the home of a hermit, Julian Santana Barrera, who lived isolated on the Xochimilco canal. Legend has it that he found a girl drowned in the canal and hung dolls around the island to appease her spirit. The island became a popular tourist attraction with many visiting with dolls on hand to add to the collection. In 2001 Barrera was sadly found drowned, supposedly in the same spot as the girl he had once found. You can still visit the island and be greeted by unblinking, spooky eyes… and the dolls too.
2. Hashima Island, Japan
Also known as Battleship Island, this abandoned coal mining facility is an eerie jungle of crumbling concrete buildings and the dust-covered remnants of its former inhabitants. It has been unoccupied since 1974 as people were forced to leave as inhospitable conditions made it impossible to live there. At one point there were 5000 workers crammed into this tiny island (making it the most densely populated place on earth), unable to leave due to the temperamental seas.
3. Pripyat, Ukraine
Abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Pripyat was once the thriving home of 50,000 people before the worst nuclear disaster in history hit Ukraine. For many, this haunting time capsule serves as a reminder of the mistrust people felt towards the government, as this emptied city remains literally frozen in time – the nuclear power cause the city’s clocks to stop ticking. The most eerie area of the city is its theme park, that’s towering Ferris Wheel and rusting dodgems stand empty and devoid of life.
4. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Oradour-sur-Glane has remained untouched since the Nazi massacre that wiped out the town’s population in 1944. 642 people died in this horrific attack – the majority being women and children. The village has remained untouched as General Charles de Gaulle stated it should remain a memorial to the cruelty of the Nazi occupation. Today it is a popular tourist attraction, for people to wander around the quiet streets lined by rusted cars and ruined stone buildings. Despite it being busy during the day, locals say they wouldn’t dare enter at night – there have been sightings of figures roaming the empty streets.
5. Kolmanskop, Namibia
This former diamond mining village was home to German miners seeking weath and prosperity. However, as the price of diamonds deteriorated after the First World War, the once-thriving hub of German architecture and culture in the middle of a vast African desert was abandoned. Over time, the houses have been invaded by sands that fill the rooms, turning them into almost otherworldly places that tourist can explore, if they dare.
6. Humberstone, Chile
Thousands lived and worked in northern Chile’s unbearably dry desert for over 60 years, processing the world’s largest deposit of ‘saltpetre’ (potassium nitrate). When it was eventually abandoned it took over a more gruesome role as a concentration camp during the Pinochet dictatorship. Although not completely abandoned (some 250 residents still live here), the majority of the buildings lie empty and dilapidated.
7. Port Arthur, Tasmania
This small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula is reportedly one of the most haunted locations in Australia as it operated for years as a penal colony. As well as being the home of criminals it is also the site of the awful Port Arthur massacre of 1996. People who visit say they have seen ghostly figures as well as hearing odd noises and the sound of a church bell that has not been in operation for years.
8. Bodie, USA
Nestled in the hills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, Bodie is one of the most famous ghost towns in North America. Few of the buildings of this former gold mining town are still standing but the ones that are, are stocked full of dusty treasures from the town’s past. However, heed this warning – if you wish to take something as a souvenir, prepare to suffer the consequences, as legend has it that ghosts roam the town, protecting it from thieves.
9. Grytviken, South Georgia
This Antarctic whaling station was abandoned in 1966 after hunting had decimated the whale population to the point where so few were left it wasn’t worth continuing. All that remains of the settlement are ghostly ships and rundown buildings, as well as a creepy graveyard where former workers were buried. Grytviken is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, further adding to the chilling, and decidedly chilly, atmosphere.