Creepy Abandoned Places with Haunting Histories
Abandoned places have an eerie allure all their own. Who lived there, and why did they leave? Their mysteries invite us to dig deep into their past to discover what happened to make their former inhabitants flee. Crumbling, decrepit, and full of haunting reminders of bygone days, these images will stay with you long after you put down your phone or close your laptop.
Pripyat is located only 2 km from the site of the tragic Chernobyl nuclear accident. Once a thriving luxury city filled with power plant employees and their families, Pripyat was evacuated and abandoned in just three hours. Since then, it has decayed in radioactive dust and contamination.
Homes, schools, factories, and even an amusement park remain stark reminders of the people who had innocently gone about their lives until that fateful day. Now, Pripyat is slowly being swallowed by nature as plants and trees creep over the remaining structures.
Houtouwan, Shengshan Island, China
Inconveniently situated off the east coast of China, Houtouwan is a once-prosperous fishing village turned ghost town. In the early 1990s, its 2,000 residents began a slow exodus, leaving the remote island and relocating to more convenient inland locations. Only a handful of residents remain, living mainly in houses without electricity or running water.
30 years later, climbing pants have taken over the crumbling structures, covering them in vibrant green leaves. If you peek inside, however, you can still see the furniture and objects abandoned by its residents.
The Maunsell Sea Forts, England
They might look like abandoned alien space crafts, but the Maunsell Sea Forts are completely man made. Constructed in 1942 in the Thames Estuary, these forts were meant to serve as a line of defense from the devastating Luftwaffe attacks during WWII.
The forts were abandoned and decommissioned in the 1950s, but were never knocked down. Today, the rusting, dilapidated forts remain standing as grim reminders of atrocities of war.
The Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), Germany
Looming high above Berlin is its tallest mountain, the Teufeslberg (or Devil’s Mountain). This man-made structure is constructed out of roughly 42 million cubic feet of war rubble that was moved out of the city after WWII. Eventually, it peaked at a height of 390 feet.
During the Cold War with Russia, US and British spies set up a listening station at Devil’s Mountain, eventually abandoning it in 1992. Interestingly, there are persistent rumors that a Nazi-era military academy remains hidden under the remains of Devil’s Mountain.
Stonewall Juvenile Detention Center
Built in 1909, Stonewall Jackson Juvenile Detention Center was the first juvenile detention center to open in North Carolina. Meant to be a correctional facility where underage offenders would be kept separate and safe from the adult criminal population, the reality was just the opposite. The barbaric punishments and atrocities that were committed on these grounds knew no limits.
Now standing completely empty, they are considered historical, and cannot be torn down. So they remain, abandoned and surrounded by tall fences and barbed wire.
SS American Star
Once a luxurious cruise ship, the SS American Star is now an empty, decaying wreck in the Canary Islands of Spain. She began as a transatlantic liner in 1939. When WWII exploded, and she was put under the command of the US Navy eventually transporting over 350,000 troops.
After the war, she went back to her role as a civilian ship, changing owners and names multiple times. Finally, in 1995, a Thai company bought the ship, intending to use it as a luxury hotel. As she was being towed to her new home, stormy seas snapped her tow lines, sending her aground in Fuerteventura. She was deemed unsalvageable and left to rust and decay, a testament to the powers of nature.
I.M. Cooling Tower, Belgium
The magnificent I.M. Cooling Tower watches over the town of Charleroi, Belgium, like a prop from a sci-fi movie. It was part of Power Plant IM, one of the largest coal-burning plants in all of Belgium. At the height of its usage, it was said to have cooled off over 480,000 gallons of water per minute. However, in the early 2000s, it was widely reported that the Power Plant IM was responsible for 10% of the CO2 emissions in Belgium. With negative publicity building up, the power plant was shut down in 2007.
The empty building still hovers over the town, looking like it was lifted from a dystopian wasteland. Its muddy, mossy surroundings add to the feeling of decay.
Hartmannsdorf, Sachsen, Deutschland
Hartmannsdorf was used to house prisoners of war (POWs) captured by Nazi Germany during WWII. After its opening in 1941, it housed mostly French troops captured during the Battle of France and British troops taken prisoner in North Africa.
After its liberation by the Allies in 1945, the camp was abandoned. Although the grounds are overrun by tall grasses and other plants, the now-decaying buildings remain as an eerie reminder of the horrors of war.
The Brusnitsyn Mansion in St. Petersburg, Russia, was built in the 1770s. It was bought in 1844 by peasant-turned-merchant Nikolay Brusnitsyn, who turned the sumptuous mansion into a tannery. The factory shut down in the 1990s and the Brusnitsyn Mansion has remained empty since.
But while the outside seems like merely another dilapidated building, the inside shows vestiges of the lux home it once was. It’s often used for photo shoots, as a background of decayed and forgotten riches.
Fernald Center, aka, the Experimental Hospital for the Teaching and Training of Idiotic Children
From its creation in the late 1800s in Waltham, Massachusetts, this school was originally designed to house boys with low intelligence. It was once highly regarded as a mental health educational facility, but there are other stories lurking beneath that benign surface.
These students were tricked into allowing staff to perform medical experiments on them, including being fed radioactive cereal. Overcrowded dorms were the filthy backdrop to accusations of abuse. No student was safe at the Fernald State School.
The school was finally shuttered in 2014. Today, ivy is beginning to creep up its still-stately exterior, in stark contrast to the deteriorating plaster and crumbling ceilings inside.
Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage
This long-abandoned orphanage was originally built in 1899. It served as an orphanage from 1903 until 1964. It’s considered the largest wooden building in Europe at a whopping 20,000 square meters. Although originally conceived as a hotel and casino, the building’s purpose was changed when the Sultan refused to give them a license.
A Greek woman then bought and owned it until tensions against the local Greek population escalated in the 1960s, when the orphanage was forced to close. Since then, it has sat abandoned and left to rot. We’re sure the ghosts of at least a few kids still haunt the place, though.
This building in Montpelier, Ireland, is an exciting mix of abandoned and used. Originally the ruins of ancient Irish peoples, it was converted into a club for an Irish parliament member in the 1920s. The transformation was seen as disrespectful by the locals, and Connolly, the parliamentary member, was looked down on for his actions.
Nowadays, it has gone back to being abandoned. The reports of devil and ghost sightings continue to pour in every year, especially around the chilly nights surrounding Halloween.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 1829, the idea of solitary confinement wasn’t new to prisons in America. However, this prison escalated the idea by completely isolating prisoners, even going so far as to cover their heads with thick hoods anytime a guard needed to interact with them. Solitary confinement nowadays is nowhere near as harsh.
Such loneliness took its toll on the prisoners, and the ghosts that surely haunt the building are just as present as ever. In 1913, they had to reform their solitary confinement system, but they continued to employ gruesome and illegal methods of torturing their population until 1970. It’s not a nice place, that’s for sure.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Weston, West Virginia
Sadly, throughout history, you can see that societies rarely gave adequate care or consideration to their mentally ill members. Some of the most haunted buildings and ruins are asylums because of the generally horrid conditions that innocent inmates were forced to endure. And that’s not even discussing the women who were locked away for no reason other than standing up for themselves!
This particular asylum was designed for 250 people when it opened in 1864, but was filled with over 2,400 people as of the 1950s. It continued to stay open until 1994. A sordid century of putting mentally ill people in cages and refusing to adequately heat the building led to innumerable deaths and reportedly, subsequent hauntings.
Poveglia Island, Italy
This island was once used as a plague colony, where people in the 1300s who were infected were sent to die. The hope was that they would stop the spread of the disease by containing infected people. However, as history shows, containment did nothing to prevent more infections and caused people to die scared and alone on the island.
About 500 years later, Italy used this island to torture and experiment on mentally ill people since they figured that their families didn’t want them and they wouldn’t be missed. Unfortunately for ghost enthusiasts, this island is off-limits for most visitors and requires special guides to sneak a peek.
Château de Brissac, Brissac-Quincé, France
Supposedly, this chateau is where Charlotte, one of the daughters of King Charles VII, was murdered. Her husband learned of her tastes outside of the marriage and flew into a jealous rage, killing her. She was said to have been wearing a green dress on that fateful day and her spirit, known as The Green Lady, apparently haunts the highest tower.
Was she thrown from that very tower and now waits there to return the favor to her husband? Does she wander the halls, looking desperately for her secret lover? We can only speculate on her ghostly motives, but it’s a beautiful place to explore nonetheless.
Poinsett Bridge in Greenville, South Carolina
Bridges usually get a bad rap when it comes to ghostly activities, so we think it’s a crime that we haven’t mentioned any before now. Though this bridge is no longer in use, once upon a time, the mason who built this bridge in the early 1800s supposedly died just after completing it. This may be just an urban legend, but we think it’s pretty spooky.
Another rumor talks about a slave who was lynched under or near the bridge. Though stories differ, the basic premise remains the same. After all, doesn’t every story come from a single truth?
Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama
The Sloss Furnaces is one place that you can see and immediately know something went horribly wrong there. This was a place where men labored under horrific conditions to produce iron in the 1800s. There were no labor laws, so it wasn’t illegal, but the man who owned the factory must have noticed when a whopping 46 employees died.
Wormwood, the owner, fell prey to the building himself when he ‘accidentally’ slipped and fell into the molten ore, instantly and painfully burning to death. Sure, maybe it was an accident, but if it wasn’t? Well, we won’t be pointing any fingers!
SS Ayrfield, Sydney Australia
At this point, what was once a proud ship has become an amazingly cool floating forest. Regardless of any haunted activities, we think this would be an interesting place for any tree enthusiast to visit.
After being decommissioned in 1972, this ship was consigned to be destroyed. However, the bay where it was anchored also stopped all work on ships at that time, so the majority of the ship continues to float there as a home for greenery.
Beelitz-Heilstätten Hospital, Beelitz, Germany
This hospital is more sad than creepy, but it’s an abandoned military installation in Germany near a small town known primarily for their asparagus, not their ghosts. Sadly, it was used during World War II for Nazi soldiers to conduct their experiments.
Not content to leave well enough alone, Russia captured the place and used it until 1994, when the old building was finally left to rest. We can only shudder at the things people must have endured within these walls and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if some of them have been unable to find their final rest.