17 Amazing Photographs of Abandoned Places

Top places you should see before they die… or at least disappear

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Maunsell Sea & Air Forts in the U.K. Howard Kingsnorth/Corbis

In a world that is full of overcrowding and overpopulation, it's hard to believe that there are places that, once populated, now sit unoccupied. Whether it be abandonment due to war, economic collapse or disaster, these locations offer a look into a place where time stopped. Once thriving locations are now modern day ruins, sitting in decay. 

Take a journey to 17 abandoned places throughout the world.

Plymouth, Montserrat

In 1995, the capital city of Plymouth on the island of Montserrat was evacuated due to an impending volcanic eruption. In 1997, the volcano erupted burying the city in 40 feet of ash. An exclusion zone was created, eliminating access to over one half of the island and banning residents from coming back.

Pripyat, Ukraine

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, a catastrophic power increase occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant’s Reactor No. 4, resulting in several explosions within its core. The explosions released radioactive materials into the atmosphere, which has been widely regarded as the worst accident in the history of nuclear power. The entire town of Pripyat (population 49,360), three kilometers from the plant, was completely evacuated. In total, more than 200,000 evacuations are a result of the accident.

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station was Detroit, Michigan's passenger rail depot from 1913 to 1988. The building began operating as Detroit's main passenger depot in 1913 after the older Michigan Central Station burned on December 26, 1913. It was planned as part of a large project that included the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel below the Detroit River for freight and passengers.

At the time of its construction, it was the tallest rail station in the world. The station served as a central hub during World Wars I and II. After the second World War, passenger attendance declined such that multiple attempts to sell the building occurred from 1950-1970. In 1971, Amtrak took over as the nation’s passenger rail service, and a major renovation began in 1978. In January of 1988, the last Amtrak train departed and the station was closed. Multiple attempts to renovate the building to date have failed.

Kolmanskop, Namibia

A former diamond-rich town that once housed a hospital, school, theater, casino, ice factory and the first x-ray station in the Southern Hemisphere. After World War I, the diamond supply slowly decreased, and by 1954 the town was abandoned. Many abandoned buildings are filled with sand that is knee-deep. Tourists are required to have a permit to enter the town.

Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria

The Buzludzha Monument was built near the location of the final battle between Bulgarian rebels and the Ottoman Empire. It was built to commemorate the 1891 formation of an organized socialist movement that resulted in the founding of the Bulgarian Socialist Democratic Party - a predecessor of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

The monument was built in 1981, but shortly afterward, no longer maintained by the Bulgarian government. It has since fallen into disrepair and is consistently vandalized and damaged with no plans to restore the abandoned structure.

Hashima Island near Nagasaki, Japan

Populated from 1887 to 1974, Hashima Island served as a coal mining facility founded by the Mitsubishi company. The island was purchased in 1890 for the purposes of extracting coal from undersea mines. The island boasted Japan’s first large concrete building, specifically built to withstand a typhoon.

As petroleum replaced coal, the mines slowly closed, and in 1974, Mitsubishi closed the last remaining mines. Since all were stripped completely, the island is often referred to as “Ghost Island.” In the intervening years, it has fallen into disrepair, and many of the concrete structures have collapsed. A partial re-opening in 2009 allows some tourism opportunities, but a full re-opening would require significant funds to make the island safe to tourists.

Maunsell Sea & Air Forts

During World War II, the Maunsell Forts were built to be small fortified towers in the Thames and Mersey estuaries to help defend the United Kingdom. The sea forts were designed to protect the international shipping channel from German air raids and mine setting.

Air Forts were used for anti-aircraft defense, shooting down 22 planes and 30 flying bombs.

The forts were decommissioned in the 1950s, but were re-occupied in the 1960s by British Pirate Radio stations. They are occasionally visited, but mostly remain unoccupied.

SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Australia

The SS Ayrfield is one of many abandoned and decommissioned ships floating in the Homebush Bay, just west of Sydney. Originally named the SS Corrimal, the steel ship was built in 1911 in the United Kingdom. It was registered in Sydney in 1912 and initially used to provide supplies to American troops in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1972, the SS Ayrfield was retired and sent to Homebush Bay - which served as a ship breaking yard. The bulk of the ship was removed, but the hull was left floating in the bay. The Syrfield is the most enveloped by nature, housing a rich supply of mangrove trees.

Uyuni Train Cemetery, Bolivia

Uyuni is located in southern Bolivia and home to the world’s largest salt flats. It is also home to one of the most comprehensive train cemeteries. The town once served as a distribution hub for trains on their way to Pacific Ocean ports. The train lines were built from 1888 to 1892 by the British. The hopes for the rail line to flourish Bolivia as a transportation hub were consistently dampened by local saboteurs who saw it as an intrusion.

The trains were mostly used for mining, but by 1940, were abandoned when the mining industry collapsed due to mineral depletion. Today, the train cemetery is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.

Oradour-sur-Glane, Limousin, France

The original Oradour-sur-Glane was a town in Western France. On June 10, 1944, most of its population, 642 inhabitants including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company. The town was the partially razed and left to burn for days. Roughly 20 survivors remained, and after a few days, were allowed to return to bury the dead.

After the war, a new Oradour-sur-Glane was built northwest of the original town. The ruins of the original village remain as a memorial to the dead and as a reminder of a dark time in France's history.

Kayaköy, Turkey

Kayaköy was a former village in southern Turkey inhabited mostly by Greek-speaking Christians. During the Greco-Turkish War, the village's population slowly left. The village was completely abandoned after a population exchange agreement was signed between Turkish and Greek governments. Many of the standing structures were damaged in a 1957 earthquake. Today, the village is classified as a World Friendship and Peace Village and remains a tourist destination as a museum and historical monument.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 34

Launch Complex 34 (LC34) was used by NASA as part of the Apollo moon program. It was designed to launch Saturn I and IB rockets, that would lay the groundwork for the Saturn V rockets that would send astronauts to the Moon. Launches took place from 1961 through 1968, with the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, launching on October 11, 1968.

On January 27, 1967, it was the site of the fatal Apollo 1 fire, which claimed the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

After the Apollo 7 launch, LC34 was razed, with only the launch platform remaining, along with a memorial for the Apollo 1 astronauts.

Wonderland Amusement Park, Beijing, China

Wonderland Amusement Park was an abandoned theme park about 20 miles outside of Beijing, China. Original plans were to create the largest amusement park in Asia, spanning 120 acres.

Construction stopped in 1998 due to financial issues, and a planned re-attempt in 2008 also failed. The land was soon reclaimed by farmers to tend to crops while the land was unoccupied. In 2013, all structures were demolished and the land reopened to new development.

New York World's Fair, Flushing, Queens

The New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair is located in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park in Flushing, Queens. Its primary construction was three reinforced concrete and steel components.

The "Tent of Tomorrow" once touted the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The second structure consisted of observation towers that were used for views over the event, and the third structure, "Theaterama", was used for performing arts events, and is to this day.

Some of the complex is actively used, but other parts are completely abandoned and in ruins.

Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, North Wales

Hafodunos Hall was built between 1861 and 1866 and initially was developed to be a single-family home. The hall remained private property until its sale in 1930. In the 1940s, it reopened as a school for girls, an escape from World War II. The school closed in 1969 and reopened in 1970 as an accountancy college.

Upon the closing of the college, it was turned into a home for the elderly until 1993, when it was closed for failing to meet safety requirements. The building changed hands a handful of times, with no clear plans for its use. In 2004, it was severely damaged by arson. Plans as of 2010 were to restore the property to a single-dwelling residence.

Kaserne Krampnitz

Kaserne Krampnitz was a Nazi military compound consisting of 50 buildings. It was initially used as a training center for the cavalry. It was occupied by German soldiers until the end of World War II. A day after it was abandoned in 1945, Russian soldiers claimed the complex and used it for a driving training center. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1992, the complex has been left abandoned.

Macassar Pavillon, Western Cape, South Africa

Built as a tourist destination, the Macassar Beach Pavilion was one of Cape Town's most popular summertime destinations.

Due to a series of financial mishaps, the resort is left decaying in ruin. Sand dunes have overrun much of the area and what is left of the beach pavilion is faded and chipped paint.

Once prominent gazebo, water slides, and swimming pools now cast strange shadows, providing a unique backdrop for visiting photographers.

This ghost town of a beach can be accessed through a 30 minute drive from Cape Town, in the Western Cape.