Top ten ghost towns around the world

Ghost towns around the worldCraco, Italy

Visit one of these eerie abandoned towns and villages on your travels to add some fascinating history to your holiday.

From the weird beauty of the Italian hill town of Craco, Basillcata, to the abandoned Dorset village of Tynham, visiting these places will instil a true sense of wonder (as well as a slight chill down the spine...)

Ghost towns around the world
See Gallery
Top ten ghost towns around the world

Around 75 miles south east of Lake Tahoe lies the abandoned town of Bodie, which was originally a mining town founded for its discovery of gold in 1859. Its profitable discovery made Bodie a Wild West Boom town in 1876 and it produced nearly $34 million worth of gold. The population grew to up to 7,000 by 1879 but by 1880 Bodie started to decline as people moved on to other boomtowns. Today it attracts thousands of tourists every year to see its deserted streets and peer in the windows of the remaining buildings.

The village of Belchite is a monument to the Spanish Civil War, which took place between 1936 and 1939. It's been left as it was and is a unique place to visit in Spain, surrounded by low hills. The ghost town has shell-shattered ruins and an old village church which is open to the public and collapsible buildings roped off.

Image: kurtxio. Used under Creative Commons Licence CC BY 2.0.

Hashima Island or Gunjanjima as it's also known became a ghost island in 1974. It had residents from 1887 and was used for coal mining, which was in operation during the industrialisation of Japan. The country's first large concrete building was built here in 1916 as a block of apartments to accommodate the workers and protect against typhoon destruction. The 1960s saw petroleum replace coal so Japan's coal mines started to close, leading to Gunjanjima being abandoned. Today there are tour boats that depart from various locations in Nagasaki Port giving tourists a close look at the abandoned concrete buildings and its sea wall.

This ghost town located on a hill that's no stranger to landslides adding to its crumbling structure is only accessible by car and has an uninhabited old town. It was earthquakes and landslides that led to most of Craco's residents leaving in the 1960s. Today it's a must-see if you're travelling between Matera and the Pollino National Park. Be sure to admire the fantastic views from the castle's towers.

The ghost town of Kayakoy was abandoned during the 1923 population exchange between Turkey and Greece and is today an open-air museum for you to wander its eerie streets. Fig trees, Orthodox churches and a fountain source from the 17th century are some of the features of Kayakoy and it's recently been awarded UNESCO Friendship and Peace Village status. It's also the setting for Louis de Bernieres's novel Birds Without Wings.

You don't have to travel too far to see an abandoned village as south Dorset has its own ghost town on the Isle of Purbeck. Tyneham was evacuated during World War II to be used as a firing range and a training ground for the troops but it was never returned to the residents and in 1948 a compulsory purchase order was placed on the land. It has remained a place for military training and today attracts visitors for its coastal scenery and to see what's left of the village. The main sights are a school and the restored St. Mary's Church, which now act as museums.

Located in the forbidden territory of Sperrgebiet, Kolmanskop was discovered as a town rich in diamonds in 1908 and soon after developed into a bustling centre with large houses, a school, casino, theatre and the first X-ray station in the southern hemisphere. Kolmanskop declined after World War I when diamond prices crashed. Richer diamond deposits were also discovered further south and operations were moved to the town of Oranjemund. Today the ghost town shows little resemblance to what it once was and is slowly being covered by sand dunes. Tourists can visit a museum and walk through houses that are knee-deep in sand.

This uninhabited mining town in Chile is a colourful ghost town that was built in 1905 to house workers as it was to become the world's largest underground copper mine El Teniente. It's known as the city of stairs as it was built on terrain too steep for wheeled vehicles so there are no roads and there was just a train that brought workers to the camp. Sewell has been preserved as a monument to its workers and their way of life. Its distinctive buildings in vivid colours are the main attraction.

Although Silverton is referred to as a ghost town, there's still a small population of 50 that remains. It was once a silver-ore-mining centre with up to 3000 residents but the end of the 19th century saw the high-grade ore around Silverton decrease and the discovery of an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body in nearby Broken Hill which led to many of Silverton's residents abandoning the town. Today the old Silverton Hotel and Silverton Gaol still remain but the other original buildings have vanished or lie in ruins. It's also a top film location in Australia for its colonial buildings and scenic desert surroundings.

Before the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Varosha was a top tourist spot and had many hotels with rich and famous visitors including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Brigitte Bardot. The invasion led to a huge change and its residents fled leaving it abandoned ever since. There were various shopping streets, restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the town but today it has been fenced off and only the Turkish military and United Nations personnel are allowed to enter. Nature is reclaiming the area and there have been sea turtles spotted nesting on the deserted beaches of the former holiday hotspot.

Read Full Story