10 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.
1. Pripyat, Ukraine
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Brusnitsyn Mansion
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.