There is something disturbing about ghost towns. How can whole communities abandon their homes? The tales behind some of these places nourish imagination and legends. Some have a scenic although melancholic beauty, others are just terrifying. Yet, they are all peculiar attractions you should add to your travel bucket list.
The Ghost Town of Craco – Italy
In the boot of Italy, just miles away from the picturesque Gulf of Taranto, sits the medieval town of Craco. Despite the natural beauty of its surroundings and a rich history dating back to the 8th century, Craco is today a ghost town. In fact, years of natural disasters and harsh conditions have driven inhabitants away. Nowadays, Craco is a fascinating tourist attraction and popular filming location. It was the setting for notable productions such as Quantum of Solace and the Passion of the Christ.
Graun – Italy
If there are ghosts in Graun, they must be strong swimmers. Italy’s most famous drowned village only houses fish. Locals deserted their quaint town in 1950 when the construction of an electric dam immersed the whole valley. Today, only the church’s bell tower is visible above waterline, almost like a tombstone. Legend has it that one can still hear the bell ring on quiet nights, despite being removed before the flood. When the lake freezes during winter, visitors can walk up to the sinister bell tower.
Holland Island – Maryland
Settled during the 17th century, Holland Island‘s last standing house collapsed in 2010. Inhabitants resisted the wrath of the sea as long as they could, but marine wind and tides made life on the island unbearable, chasing the locals away. There is nothing left of this ghost town but a lighthouse.
Hashima Island – Japan
Long known as the battleship island for its resemblance to Japanese war vessels, Hashima is now known as the Ghost Island. The most troubling thing here is the undisturbed concrete apartments complete with furniture. It is as if inhabitants suddenly disappeared or fled, leaving everything behind. Unsettling? The truth behind the abandonment is less romantic: as a coal mining facility, it became obsolete when Japan turned to petrol. Still, Hashima fascinates enough for Google to map it for everyone to tour.
Shicheng – China
Deep beneath the Quiandao Lake lies the Lion City, the ancient metropolis of Eastern China. This underwater ghost town unveiled its incredible opulence to the divers who rediscovered it. Shicheng was a major economic and political hub of the East China until the government decided in the 50s to flood it for hydroelectricity’s sake. The Atlantis of the East might re-open soon as a sunken exploration ground for divers.
Pripyat – Ukraine
Founded in 1970, Pripyat became a ghost town just 16 years after, due to the infamous Chernobyl disaster. The inhabitants fled the city leaving behind a brand new amusement park and a huge train station. Pripyat is now in the heart of a restricted zone, and remains undisturbed, as it was in its last hours.
Oradour-sur-Glane – France
On June 10th, 1944, German forces razed this village and massacred all its 642 inhabitants, in retaliation to the actions of the Resistance activity in the Limousin region. Now, the ruins of Oradour serve as a memorial and a museum. At the entrance of the ghost town is a sign with the world “Remember!”. The murder of innocent women and children is indeed hard to forget. The principal perpetrators of this war crime died just days after. The remaining survivors are behind bars. Is it enough to set the soul of the innocents at peace?