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20 Abandoned Places That Were Overrun By Nature

You won't believe what happens when nature takes over abandoned buildings and how quickly they can turn into part of a forest.

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Inside Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire. One of the countries best preserved medieval castlesMarbury/Shutterstock

When nature takes over

While the current global lockdown has left a lot of places eerily empty, our local, now abandoned hotspots haven’t quite been taken over by the elements yet. But these buildings, left to rot and crumble to the ground, have had to contend with dirt, rain, plants, and other elements taking over until it eventually they wear away to nothing. But sometimes, the way nature overruns man-made architecture is more beautiful than when the building was brand new.

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Sorrento ruins, Italy. IL Vallone dei Mulini...with it's own micro climate these mill ruins located in a deep gorge in Sorrento date to the early 900's.perspectivestock/Shutterstock

Slowly becoming green

This abandoned flour and sawmill in Sorrento, Italy is slowly turning from gray stone to lush green. These abandoned churches are eerily gorgeous

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Stephen Orsillo/Shutterstock

Eastern seaboard

An abandoned beach house on the Gloucester shore in Massachusetts could be the perfect piece of property for a rehab project.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Narong Sangnak/EPA/Shutterstock (7966551i) Thai Visitors Look For Fish in the Basement of an Abandoned Mall in Bangkok Thailand 13 January 2015 the Officers Are Moving Thousands of Fish Including Tilapia Iridescent Shark and Carp From a Pond of the New World Mall Before Its Demolition the Mall was Closed in 1997 After It was Found to Have Breached Building Regulations in Bangkok and It Has Become Home to Fish After It was Slowly Flooded by Rain Water Thailand Bangkok Thailand Fishing - Jan 2015Narong Sangnak/EPA/Shutterstock

Mall to pond

The New World Mall in Thailand sits abandoned after it was discovered that the builders didn’t follow safety code for the structure. It was flooded with water after being left and it caused a bad mosquito problem for other buildings nearby. To help with the bugs, people added fish to the mall’s pond and now visitors often go inside to see them swimming around.

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A regal residence

If this residence got the attention it deserves, it’d be quite the estate—just like one of these famous houses in each state.

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Panorama of ancient stone door and tree roots, Ta Prohm temple ruins, Angkor, CambodiaJixin YU/Shutterstock

Deep roots

The temple of Ta Prohm in Cambodia is being taken over by the roots of Bayon trees that surround the building.

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The tunnel of love, Romania. A natural tunnel formed by trees along a rail train in Transylvania. Cosmin Placinta/Shutterstock

Tunnel of love

Nature has formed a perfect arch of trees and other foliage around these tracks that a train occasionally passes through.

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Vladimir Mulder/Shutterstock


An old mansion in Abkhazia, which is a region next to Russia and Georgia along the Black Sea, with overgrown plants could be a prime rehab project. The high ceiling and loads of windows likely made for a striking image in a past life. Check out these pictures of real ghost towns in the United States.

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green over housesJoe Nafis/Shutterstock

Green decaying buildings

Ivy and moss wrap itself around almost every surface of this abandoned fishing town in China. 

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Abandoned-home-with-moss-growing-on-roofCory Seamer/Shutterstock

Moss on roof

Back in 2008, the History Channel put together a series called Life After People, which explored what the world would look like if nature were free to reclaim it. Conventional wisdom says that an abandoned area will start to look like a forest in about five years, The moss on the roof of this house signals just the beginning of the eventual destruction of the house. Moss will absorb moisture and degrade material like shingles. Some places get taken over by nature even if they are bustling with people. These are the places you need to visit before they disappear.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jerome Delay/AP/Shutterstock (9584292a) Sand fills an abandoned house in Kolmanskop, Namibia. Kolmanskop, was a diamond mining town south of Namibia, build in 1908 and deserted in 1956. SInce then, the desert slowly reclaims its territory, with sand invading the buildings where 350 German colonists and more than 800 local workers lived during its hay-days of the 1920s Evergreen Enterprise World Abandoned Places Photo Gallery, Kolmanskop, Namibia - 23 Jul 2013Jerome Delay/AP/Shutterstock

Returning desert

Sand takes over a decaying house in Namibia. The town was built for diamond mining and now the desert is taking back land that was once untouched.

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Ruined-abandoned-mansion-overgrown-with-weedsVladimir Mulder/Shutterstock

Plants creep in

If a building is left alone for as little as five years, weeds take over, plants will grow from cracks, windows blow out and allow wind and rain to get in. You can see that the roof has deteriorated to the point where anything can get inside. This house might be beyond repair, but these abandoned houses are just begging for someone to restore them.

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Old abandoned house in autumn wood.Zabotnova Inna/Shutterstock

Red and green

The red brick of this deserted home and the bright fall leaves make it look both beautiful and eery. 

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Mold covered walls

Mold is terrible inside a home and kind of tricky to remove. As nature starts to run its course and moisture enters the home, mold will soon follow.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Aaron Favila/AP/Shutterstock (6743733b) A row of concrete structures called "Quonset huts" lie inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales province, northern Philippines. The huts were used as barracks for U.S. Marines inside the former American naval base. It was closed in 1992 after the Philippine Senate voted not to extend the lease on the facility. Some of the abandoned huts were reused as dormitories and staff houses for employees. Other abandoned huts have not been touched since U.S. forces left 22 years ago Evergreen Enterprise World Abandoned Places Photo Gallery, Subic, PhilippinesAaron Favila/AP/Shutterstock

Lush concrete

Greenery creeps around these abandoned concrete huts in the Philippines. They haven’t been touched since military forces left them more than 20 years ago. 

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Rusted-bolt-covered-in-mossAstrid Demeillier/Shutterstock

Rusted metal

As rain is allowed unabated it will start to galvanize metal and rust it out. Even worse, when the weather gets below freezing, expansion and contraction of ice can split walls like a jackhammer. These abandoned hotels will give you the chills.

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Abandoned-school-in-Pripyat-ChernobylGraham Harries/Shutterstock

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat is a ghost town that was the nearest to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant before the power plant got destroyed. This school remains relatively intact despite being evacuated more than 30 years ago. 

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Abandoned-hospital-in-Chernobyl-33-years-after-Nuclear-explosionSERGEY DOLZHENKO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Abandoned hospital near Chernobyl

These days several companies provide tours of Pripyat as radiation levels have dropped in most places. This room once served as part of a hospital for the town of 49,400. Here are even more eerie photos of Chernobyl you have to see

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Abandoned-Home-filled-with-sandMint Images/Shutterstock


Sand is really mobile and will invade homes if given the opportunity. We all know how tough it can be to get sand out of things and if there’s an abandoned house in the desert, it’ll soon become part of the landscape. 

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Abandoned-New-Orleans-home-10-years-after-Hurricane-KatrinaSeph Lawless/REX Shutterstock

Hurricane damage

This New Orleans home took on extensive damage when Hurricane Katrina struck and as you can see, the roof already has vegetation growing and its starting to hang below the gutters. 

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Abandoned-home-in-Indonesia-following-a-volcano-eruptionBinsar Bakkara/AP/Shutterstock

Home following a volcano eruption

This Indonesian home remained after Mount Sinabung erupted. The volcano started erupting in 2010 and has had intermittent eruptions since, the most recent coming June 9, 2019. People left behind their belongings as they fled the ash and pumice that rained down from the volcano. See even more chilling photos of abandoned places around the world.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.

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