25 Creepy (but Real!) Ghost Towns Around the World
These abandoned places are eerie reminders of haunting pasts.
In 1962, a mysterious fire ignited from an unknown cause within the underground coal deposits of the town. As long as burning coal is exposed to oxygen, it can continue to blaze for hundreds of years. That is why even today, Centralia, Pennsylvania, is still burning from the inside, ripping the ground to shreds.
This Ukrainian town is located near the 1986 Chernobyl disaster site. Soaked through with harmful nuclear radiation, Chernobyl was cut off from the rest of the world and left to rot for decades. The nearby town of Pripyat was similarly affected, and all residents had to be evacuated. Some street artists and explorers now explore the area since the radiation level has dropped, but prolonged stays are still dangerous to your health.
The remnants of this French village (barely) stand today as a reminder of the evil acts committed by members of the Nazi SS during World War II. On June 10, 1944, the Germans killed virtually everyone in sight. More than 600 men were gunned down, and the women and children were burned alive inside a local church. Only ashy rubble and fragments of structures remain, but the town is purposefully left alone by the French government as a testimony to the atrocity.
Isla De Las Munecas, Mexico
“The Island of the Dolls” in Mexico is like something straight out of a horror movie. Located on Teshuilo Lake, the land is home to hundreds of hanging, decaying dolls, thanks to a man named Don Julian Santana. The story goes that Santana covered the island with the toys to honor a girl that supposedly drowned in the lake. In 2001, Santana drowned in the lake himself.
Okpo Land, South Korea
Once one of the continent’s most famous amusement parks, Okpo Land turned into a ghost town almost overnight when a cart on a duck-themed ride derailed and killed a girl in 1999. It actually wasn’t the first fatality there—at least one other person died on the same ride in the ’90s, but the park remained open—but after the second death, the owner vanished, and the horrible theme park descended into disrepair. Check out these eerie photos of abandoned airports around the world.
The story of the ghost town of Tewargha is a story of war and rebellion. Believed to have aided the Gaddafi regime, the residents of this town in Libya were driven out by resistance forces. Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011, but the former residents of the town still have not been allowed back to their original homes. There have been talks about returning them to their village, but the zone is still defended by a militia.
Bodie was the epitome of a town in the wild, wild west. Dozens of saloons, miners, drunks, robbers, and prostitutes occupied the town, making it a rough and tumble place to live. It was a thriving, albeit unruly place until two fires burned down the town mills. After that, business halted and forced people to abandon Bodie, leaving it one of the most well-known American ghost towns. Don’t miss these haunting photos of Route 66 ghost towns.
Cahawba was actually Alabama’s first state capital, but it fell prey to its natural surroundings after just 46 years of existence. Flooding overtook the town and slowly turned it back into the wilderness it once was. Economic trouble resulting from the Civil War also took its toll. Today, the ghost town of Cahawba functions as a government historical and archaeological site.
All the way up in the Arctic Circle lies an abandoned Soviet town called Pyramiden. Once a mining town, it flourished during World War II, but eventually collapsed along with the Soviet Union in the 1990s. More bad luck struck the town when a devastating plane crash occurred close by, killing some of the residents. Once the town became unsustainable, it was quickly decided that it be deserted in 1998. A statue of Lenin still keeps watch over the town.
What makes this Chinese ghost town one of the weirdest on this list is the fact that it is a complete replica of the French capital. The city, also known as “little Paris,” is built to maintain a population of 10,000, but few actually live there. It stands today as an essentially non-functioning oddity. Don’t miss these 13 photos of the world’s most bizarre travel destinations.