20 Abandoned Ghost Towns Around The World

Ghost towns are abandoned settlements, usually ones that contain substantial visible remains. There are many reasons why a town becomes a ghost town, like economic decline, war, natural disasters, or pollution. These abandoned places are usually completely uninhabited.

Here are 20 ghost towns around the world.

1. Craco, Italy

This historic area dates back to 540 BC when the Greeks moved inland from the coastal town of Metaponto and named the area Montedoro. Through centuries, it was a successful settlement with a university, four large palazzi, and a growing population. In 1656, a plague struck and reduced the number of citizens by hundreds. Then, in 1963, Craco started to be evacuated due to a landslide. Following an earthquake in 1980, the site was completely abandoned. Nowadays, the location is a popular tourist attraction as well as a set for movies including Quantum of Solace and The Passion of The Christ.

2. Bodie, California

Back in the 19th century, after the discovery of a profitable line of gold, Bodie was a booming town. At its best times, the town had 5,000 to 7,000 residents along with 2,000 buildings. The town started to decline at the beginning of the 20th century, showing the first signs with the dropping profits and a few years later, abandoned railway track. Today, Bodie is an authentic Wild West ghost town that has just 110 buildings standing. Visitors can freely walk the deserted town streets and see the interior remains as they were left, shelves still stocked with goods or occasional litter on the ground, but removing it is against the rules of the park.

3. Oradour-Sur-Glane, France

Oradour-sur-Glane was a village in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in west-central France. It was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants including women and children were massacred by a German Nazi soldier company. Out of the entire village’s population, only around 30 survived the massacre with 20 escaping the village before the SS unit arrived. The unit, led by Adolf Diekmann, sealed the city and forced everyone out of their houses. Men were led into the sheds where they were shot by machine guns and later set ablaze. Only 6 men escaped, although one was later shot dead. Women and children were locked in a church where the soldiers set off an incendiary device. As victims were trying to escape through the windows, they were met with machine-gun fire. Out of 247 women and 205 children in the church, only one 47-year-old woman managed to survive. She escaped through a window, was non-fatally shot and managed to crawl into the bushes where she hid overnight. After the war, the then French president, Charles de Gaulle, decided that the village should be turned into a memorial. A new village of the same name was built nearby.

4. Pripyat, Ukraine

@Gene West
Perhaps one of the best-known ghost cities in the world, Pripyat in Ukraine was founded in 1970 as the ninth nuclear city in the Soviet Union to support the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. By the time it was evacuated a day after the Chernobyl disaster, on the afternoon of April 27, 1986, the city had a population of 49,360. Naturally, after the disaster, the city was abandoned and soon became a ghost city. Nowadays, as radiation levels declined, more and more tourists visit the location and various Ukrainian companies offer guided tours around the area.

5. Garnet, Montana

Another one of the US’ abandoned mining towns, Garnet dates back to the 1860s. It was once the residential and commercial center for a heavily mined area. It is believed that in 1898, around 1,000 people populated the town that was once known as Mitchell. Unsurprisingly, Garnet was abandoned two decades later when the gold in the mines ran out. Despite suffering from a fire that destroyed half of the town in 1912, Garnet is now one of the state’s best-preserved ghost towns and has 16,000 visitors annually.

6. Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island, also known as Gunkanjima, is an island located about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the city of Nagasaki, southern Japan. There are undersea coal mines, established in 1887, almost 80 years after coal was originally discovered on the island. It had its peak population in 1959 with 5,259 residents living on the island. In 1974, as the coal reserves slowly depleted, the mines were closed and people left.

7. Cahawba, Alabama

Unlike most of the ghost towns in the USA, Cahawba is not one of the former mine camps. In fact, Cahawba used to be the first permanent state capital of Alabama (from 1820 to 1825). It is located at the confluence of the Alabama and Cahaba rivers and, unfortunately, suffered many seasonal floodings because of it. That’s why the state legislature decided to move the capital to a better location in 1826. As the settlement was abandoned by its population, Cahawba became a ghost town. It was preserved as a state historic site, the Old Cahawba Archeological Park, and people are working to develop it as a full interpretive park.

8. Kennecott, Alaska

@Reckless Roaming
Kennecott was once the central mining camp that connected several copper mines nearby. It all started back in 1900 when two prospectors spotted “a green patch far above them in an improbable location for a grass-green meadow.” What it turned out to be was the richest concentration of copper ore ever discovered which had up to 70% concentration of pure chalcocite. During these times, Copper became an extremely valuable mineral due to the invention of electricity, automobiles, and telephones, therefore hundreds of people came to this place to work 7 days a week to send the money home to their families. During its active years from 1909 till 1938, Kennecott mines produced over 4.6 million tons of ore that had made a profit greater than 100 million dollars. Unfortunately, in the mid ’20s, a local geologist predicted that the end of the high-grade ore bodies was inevitable. Most of the high-grade ores were depleted in the early ’30s and the five mines closed one after another. The last train left Kennecott on November 10, 1938, marking the end of its time and leaving the place a ghost town.

9. Bannack, Montana

@Michael T
The town was founded back in 1862 with a major gold discovery in that year. One of the city founders was Dr. Erasmus Darwin Leavitt, a physician who gave up medicine for a time to become a gold miner. Although when he started gold mining and practicing medicine, he soon found out that he had more reputation as a physician than as a miner and that there was greater profit in allowing someone else to wield his pick and shovel while he attended to his profession. Subsequently, he moved elsewhere to devote the rest of his life to his medical practice. At the town’s peak, Bannock had a total population of around 10,000 residents with the last residents leaving in the 1970s. 60 structures still remain in the abandoned city, many well-preserved and can be explored by visitors.

10. Lifta, Israel

@Yehudit Alayoff
The village dates back to ancient times, as archaeological remains dating as far back as the Second Iron Age have been discovered on site. In 1945, there were 2,250 people living in Lifta, 2,230 of which were Muslims and the remaining 20 were Christian. During the 1947–48 Civil War in Mandatory Palestine, Lifta was depopulated as part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus. After war, Jewish families lived on site, although most of the Jewish community left in 1971. After that, some of the area was used as drug rehabilitation clinic and a high school. The last residents left Lifta in 2017 and since then the government declared the village an Israeli nature reserve.

11. Thurmond, West Virginia

@Brian M. Powell
During the prime time of coal mining, Thurmond was once a prosperous town with a number of businesses and facilities for the regional railway. But now, all they have left is a passenger railway depot which is the second least used station in all of the States. While not entirely a ghost town, as there are still 5 people living in it, the majority of the buildings and the surrounding area has a haunting feeling to it due to being abandoned years ago.

12. Val-Jalbert, Canada

Located 8 km (5 mi) northwest of the town of Chambord, Val-Jalbert was founded in 1901 and soon grew as Damase Jalbert built a pulp mill nearby. Unfortunately, the mill was closed in 1927 which led to the village being deserted. It was turned into a park in 1960 with over 70 original abandoned buildings still standing, making Val-Jalbert one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Canada.

13. Great Blasket Island, Ireland

@Bjørn Christian Tørrissen
This 4.29 km2 Irish island was inhabited until 1953 when the Irish government decided they couldn’t guarantee to keep the residents safe, due to the island being hard to reach during extreme weathers. The residents were subsequently evacuated from the islands and relocated elsewhere.
Nowadays the island is inhabited with ruins of the past still standing. As Great Blasket was home to some Irish writers, like Tomás Ó Criomhthain, Peig Sayers and Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, the place still holds cultural value to the Irish, as well as fans of their works.

14. Wittenoom, Western Australia

@Five Years
Wittenoom, a once-thriving mining town in West Australia, is now a ghostly aftermath of an industrial disaster. The town was established in 1946 right during the mining boom. The land around was rich in blue asbestos which is now considered the most hazardous of the six types of asbestos. However, in 1966, the mine was closed due to unprofitability and growing health concerns from asbestos mining. Wittenoom, an old mining town, was officially erased from Australian maps in 2007 with roads leading to contaminated areas blocked. However, that doesn’t scare away thousands of travelers who visit the area every year as a form of extreme tourism.

15. Nothing Arizona Ghost Town

There is a town in Arizona called Nothing, and it is true that nobody lives there. Located in eastern Mohave County, Nothing, Arizona is an uninhabited ghost town. The origins of its name remain somewhat mysterious, with locals claiming that it was named by a group of intoxicated individuals. Established in 1977, Nothing was hardly a town at all, with only two buildings – a gas station with a garage and a small roadside market. Despite its lack of residents, Nothing, Arizona has garnered attention for its intriguing nature, drawing visitors who are captivated by its enigmatic allure. Today, it stands as a peculiar reminder of the unconventional and paradoxical elements found in the deserted landscapes of the American West.

16. Calico, California

Calico is a former mining town in San Bernardino County, California, that was started in 1881 as a silver mining town. Sometime after silver was discovered in the Calico Mountains and the town was established, borate mineral colemanite was also found which increased the fortune and naturally, the population. It is estimated that by 1890, there were 3,500 people living in Calico with nationals from China, England, Ireland, Greece, France, and the Netherlands, as well as Americans. Unfortunately, 1890 was the year when silver prices dropped, making the mines non-viable. As the population dwindled within the next decade, it saw a complete fall when borax mining ceased in the region in 1907. The town has been since restored and is a tourist destination.

17. Plymouth, Montserrat

Located in an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, the island of Montserrat, Plymouth was once a capital city. It was built on historical lava deposits near the Soufrière Hills volcano, that was then thought to be long-inactive. In 1995, the volcano resumed erupting, forcing people of Plymouth and surrounding areas to evacuate. It was completely abandoned 2 years later after the city was mostly destroyed by fire and covered in dust and debris. As volcanic activity continued, the entire southern half of the island was declared an exclusion zone. Despite being abandoned and in the exclusion zone, Plymouth still remains the de jure capital city of Montserrat which makes it the only ghost town that serves as the capital of a political territory.

18. Kayaköy, Turkey

Located 8 km south of Fethiye in southwestern Turkey in the old Lycia province, Kayaköy is a city full of ruins of the building that were mostly constructed in the 18th century (though people lived in this area as early as antiquity). Before World War I, Kayaköy had around 6,500 Greek inhabitants, almost all of which were gone after the massacres of Greeks and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire during the war. As the Treaty of Lausanne was signed in 1923 after Greece lost the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, the Greek Orthodox population was forced to move out of the now-Turkish territory. In exchange, Turkish government tried to settle Greek Muslims in the area, but they refused to move in in fear of ghosts of the Greeks killed there.

19. Akarmara, Abkhazia/Georgia

Akarmara is part of a larger settlement of Tkvarcheli located in Georgia. It was once a successful coal-mining town that became important during World War II. However, with surrounding conflicts and a declining economy, the mines closed one after another forcing people to relocate. As the siege of Tkvarcheli cut supplies to Akarmara in the early 1990s as well as effectively cut the population off from the rest of Abkhazia, residents relied on supplies being helicoptered in by Russian and separatist forces for 413 days. Nowadays, Akarmara is swarming with people, although not citizens but mostly tourists, eager to experience the elaborate Soviet architecture and see the now-closed mines.

20. St Kilda, Scotland

@Mick Crawley
Although St Kilda is not a town, but an entire archipelago, it is full of various villages that have been abandoned since 1930. Out of the archipelago, only one island was populated was Hirta, with people possibly living there for at least two millennia. The small population was completely evacuated in 1930. Many factors led to people abandoning their home village, including crop contamination, illness and tourism that changed their way of life. Livestock was first takes off the island days before people, while working dogs were drowned in the bay because they couldn’t be taken.
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