20 abandoned places that are eerily beautiful
People are often what brings a place to life. But there’s something quietly spectacular about abandoned places where the human factor has been replaced with a still-life kind of beauty. From an abandoned Russian settlement in Arctic Norway to one of Southeast Asia’s most famous temple complexes, follow our lead to 20 abandoned places that are eerily beautiful.
An abandoned Russian outpost high in the Norwegian Arctic on the island of Svalbard, Pyramiden is a strangely beautiful place that’s frozen in time. Land and boat tours to visit the town can be arranged in Svalbard’s main population center, Longyearbyen.
St. Agnes Church, Detroit, MI
Of all the abandoned places in the world, one that can really stir emotions is the skeletal remains of a church. And that’s what you’ll find at the desolate St. Agnes Church in Detroit, which dates to the 1920s and once hosted the likes of Mother Teresa herself.
Michigan Central Railway Station
Another of Detroit’s beautiful abandoned places, the Michigan Central Station no longer buzzes with the comings and goings of trains and people. The 18-story dilapidated building harkens back to earlier times and a long-gone elegant travel era.
Lake Reschen, Italy
Head to Italy’s South Tyrol region, near the border with Austria, to see a bell tower sticking up from a lake that covers the remains of an abandoned village. With the surrounding mountains as a backdrop, the abandoned beauty of Lake Reschen (aka Lake Resia) is Instagram fodder to the max.
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
An abandoned stretch of industrial railway track near Klevan in the Ukraine is overgrown with trees and foliage in the spring and summer months, making for a romantic tunneling effect. Couples love to stroll here for photo moments and to steal kisses that are said to be good luck in the aptly named Tunnel of Love.
Craco, Matera, Italy
This ghost town in Italy’s Matera province is another striking example of abandoned beauty. The hilltop town of Craco looks like it was carved straight from the surrounding hills. Guides lead tours through the abandoned village, but nobody actually lives in Craco anymore.
Canfranc Station, Spain
Located right near the French border, this abandoned railway station that dates to 1928 was once one of the biggest railway hubs in Europe. The Nazis used the station during World War II to smuggle gold, but spies were also said to have traveled from here to join the anti-Nazi French Resistance. You can feel the weight of history at every turn in Canfranc Station.
Horrific amounts of radiation released during the Chernobyl reactor disaster in 1986 forced the residents of this town to completely abandon their village, and Pripyat has been a ghost town ever since. There are so many eerie sights here, including clocks all stopped at the exact same moment in time. Tour operators sell day passes to tourists who wish to visit the area.
Ohio State Reformatory, Mansfield, OH
There are many stories of hauntings at this abandoned prison in Ohio, where tours that investigate alleged hauntings are regularly held. But there’s no denying the eerie beauty of both the building’s exterior and its lonely, long corridors.
Kaluakoi Resort, Molokai, HI
The tourist paradise of Hawaii resonates with decaying beauty at this Molokai resort that no longer welcomes guests. Kaluakoi Resort closed down in 2001, but its deteriorating exterior and sweeping ocean views nonetheless give you a feel for the property’s 1970s-era heyday.
Montana’s best-preserved ghost town, Garnet is worthy of a visit for the frozen-in-time western beauty that awaits. And while the buzz of the late-19th century gold and silver rush boom years is gone, many folks maintain spirits still haunt this spot.
Italy is full of abandoned towns that boil over with decaying beauty, and the Ligurian village of Balestrino is one of them. Residents hit the highway in the 1950s after the town was struck by several earthquakes. But with decaying buildings tumbling down the hilltop, it’s still a striking place to visit.
Bannerman Castle, New York
Straight from a fairytale stopped in mid-motion, Bannerman Castle is surrounded by water on the Hudson River in the Hudson Highlands State Park. You can explore the castle on walking and kayaking tours.
Moroccan architecture is some of the most spectacular in all of Africa. And to see a beautiful example of a classic Moroccan ksar—houses inside an earthen wall—a visit to the abandoned UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ait-Ben-Haddou is a must.
The former diamond mining town of Kolmanskop in southern Namibia is a place to see long-abandoned houses filled with sand drifts and search for the ghosts of more prosperous times.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
A true world wonder, the abandoned temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, has to be seen to be believed. And it’s the intricacy of the architecture as well as the sheer scale of this place—count on several days to explore—that will make your jaw drop.
Bodiam Castle, UK
Built in 1385, this moated castle in East Sussex in England looks like a fairytale scene, trapped in amber. Visit Bodiam Castle and let the scenery and a tour carry you back to medieval times. And don’t miss seeing one of southeast England’s largest bat roosts here, too.
Kolga Manor, Estonia
Head to Estonia to see a fascinating manor complex in a beautiful state of decay at Kolga Manor. A classicist palace, it once belonged to a noble family, and despite the state of ruins it’s easy to conjure a more lavish epoch.
Cape Romano Dome Houses, Florida
South of Marco Island in Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, the remarkably weird-looking Cape Romano Dome Houses are another chapter in the weird and wonderful Florida book. That the domes are now partially submerged in the water only enhances their appeal. They’ve also morphed into a lively artificial reef for marine life.
Head to the Sierra Mountains of California, near the Nevada border, to feel the abandoned appeal of the gold-mining ghost town of Bodie, now an official state historic park. The deserted streets of Bodie were once filled with 10,000 people, most seeking their fortunes in the surrounding hills.
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