There is nothing more haunting than a once-thriving town that has been abandoned and consumed by the elements. Here are images from some of the most incredible ghost towns in the world.
This place was a potash, sylvite and salt mining community, abandoned in the late 1960s. Most of the buildings were made of salt blocks.
This place holds the record for the highest average temperature for an inhabited location on Earth, with 35 Celsius (recorded between 1960-66).
The city was designed to house up to 500,000 people when complete, and built by the state-owned China International Trustand Investment Corporation few years ago. It has 750 colorful eight-story apartment blocks, a dozen schools, shopping malls with cinema, a five-star hotel and more than 100 retail units. Only 220 apartments had been sold from the first 2800 until July 2012, but now the city grows slowly.
Kolmanskop was founded in 1908, in the middle of the Namibian diamond fever, but the city with a casino, a hospital and a school was slowly deserted right after the First World War, when the diamond sales dropped.
The town was emptied by the militia of the National Transitional Council of Lybia in October 2011. Tawergha has a population of 24,223 in 2006.
Here was the richest diamond mine of the 1910s: according to some stories more than 1 million carats was exploited from the desert here. Now it is in a diamond mining zone (with restricted access) called Sperrgebiet.
It was founded by Sweden in 1910, but sold to the USSR in 1927. Closed in 1998 and it's intact since then. And here's the northliest Lenin statue of the world (the southernmost is on the Southern Pole Of Inaccessibility, since 1958):
Since 2007, the owner Trust Arktikugol has been renovating the hotel and guided tours are available.
The village was destroyed in 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, included 205 children and 247 women, were massacred by the Waffen-SS on June 10, 1944. Only a 47-year-old woman named Marguerite Rouffanche survived.
On the orders of Charles de Gaulle, the place was converted to a museum and it stands there as a memento of WWII. Adolf Diekmann, a commander, blamed the slaughter on retaliation for local partisan activity.
This village was built on the site of the ancient city of Carmylessus in the mid-18th century. It has an almost only Greek Christian population since 1923, when the village became abandoned after a population change between Greece and Turkey. Since then it's a museum with intact Greek-style houses and two Greek Christian churches.
It's another mock-up village, but built by the UK Ministry of Defence as a copy of a German village in 1988.
This 900-year old village and several neighboring ones was evacuated shortly after the Anschluss in 1938 to make place for a Wehrmacht military training area. It was the order of Adolf Hitler, even though his own paternal grandmother Maria was buried here. Now it's operated by the Austrian Armed Forces.
A fishing community lived here until 1953, when the population dwindled down to 22 people and was abandoned.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
This beautiful example of the wooden architecture was abandoned after the Russian Revolution.
The city named after the nearby Pripyat River was only inhabited for 16 years. All 45,000 residents were evacuated a few days after the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986. It has an amusement park that was opened only for a couple of hours and a big train station on the outskirts of the city.
The 13,500 units were built during the construction boom of the early 2000s for almost $12 billion. Utilities like water and gas lines were not included in the plans.
Some of the completed apartments had been sold, but only fewer than a third of them were occupied.
(via The Global Mail)
The project was abandoned in 1980 due to investment losses and car accidents and it turned to one of the spookiest towns in the world. Every single spaceship-like houses were demolished between 2008 and 2010.
(via sometimes interesting)
It's a gated community with an Eiffel Tower, some Parisian houses and the Champ de Mars. It was built in 2007 by a big real estate developer company.
There is enough space to house at least 100,000 people, but its population is only slightly more than 2000. You can see more examples of the abandoned and bizarre Chinese copycat architecture here.
Only less than 10 percent of the buildings are occupied. Watch more abandoned Chinese cities that could be great dystopian movie sets here.
(via China Underground)
Two coal mines opened in 1856 and the city started to grow real fast: it reached its maximum population of 2,761 in 1890, had five hotels, seven churches, two theaters, 14 general and grocery stores and 27 saloons.
Mining continued until the late 1960s, but after a mine fire its population started to dwindle to only 10 (in 2010). The fire continues burning underground to this day.
(via Proper Pictures)
A nearby volcano became active in July 1995 and 1997 and the inhabitants were evacuated.
The town was founded in 1859 by a group of gold prospectors near a mine. In 1876 the Standard Company discovered here a quite big gold-bearing ore and Bodie was instantly converted from a small mining camp to one of California's biggest towns with more than 2,000 buildings. Unfortunately the population of the city dropped quickly after the late 1880s. In 1900 it has 965 inhabitants, and only 90 in 1940.
The South American prefabricated industrial town of Fordlândia was established by Henry Ford himself in 1928, to supply rubber for the automobile factory instead of buying British rubber. It was a real failure, because the closely packed rubber trees can't survive in the hilly and infertile land. The inhabitants were forced to wear ID badges and eat American foods. In 1930 they've revolted, but the Brazilian Army came to stop the rebellion.
Chaitén was evacuated in May 2008 when the Chaitén volcano erupted for the first time in more than 9,000 years. A week later the whole town was flooded for days.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
The settlement was established in 1904 by a Norwegian sea captain as a whaling station for his fishing company. It was closed in December 1966, but the church is still used occasionally for marriages. The people had their own cinema (the photo below was taken in 1993), but it collapsed few years ago:
You can find more abandoned Antarctic bases and whaling stations here.