The crumbling houses... the deserted streets... the utter silence; these places are haunted more by memories than by spirits – ghost towns, once flourishing, now forgotten. Enter any of these famous sites… if you dare.
Craco, Italy. Almost stately as it towers over vast countryside and thickets of trees, Craco is filled with stone and brick buildings browned by the sun, their roofs giving in, churches filled with rubble, and alleyways choked with weeds. Landslides, earthquakes, and bandits plagued this hilltop mediaeval town, especially during the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1963, most residents were relocated to another valley. The area began under the ownership of the Bishop of Tricarico, and it continued as a religious community where Catholic festivals were often held. Today, there is a church in the only inhabited part of Craco, where lies the mummified remains of St Vicenzo, its patron saint.
Kolmanskop, Namibia. In the early 20th century, fortune-seekers from far and wide came in hordes when they learned of an African desert where diamonds could be harvested. In a span of 40 years, Kolmanskop was turned into a “little Germany”, with impressive houses, well-kept gardens, a casino, a hospital, and a school. But with World War I came a decline in diamond sales, and the residents headed elsewhere for bigger diamonds and less extreme conditions. There is now a museum on-site preserving this history, and tours are held for those who want to see the sand-covered structures.
New Mexico, United States. La Bajada, Cooney’s Tomb, Horse Springs… You could go on a treasure hunt for ghost towns in New Mexico. Steins is worth seeing, a railroad territory which notorious train robber Black Jack Ketchum often visited. A barren stretch of land today, Lake Valley was once excavated for silver, and adobe buildings still stand. Dawson was the location of two mining accidents which took the lives of hundreds, and today white crosses bear witness to the tragedy. Shakespeare was where outlaw Billy the Kid spent his childhood, and where two residents had a gunfight over an egg.
Prypiat, Ukraine. After the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant explosion which killed 30 people, Prypiat, a city only 16 years old, was evacuated immediately. Despite the area being initially unsafe due to radiation exposure, looters have scooped up the leftovers through the years. Upturned furniture, peeling wallpaper, empty cabinets, collapsed structures, and debris-filled schoolrooms are the only remnants today. Some groups operate tours in the area, as well as a close look at the power plant itself. Prypiat is arguably the most famous of all ghost towns, and is probably the most terrifying too, since we can see just how dangerous these accidents can be.
San Zhi, Taiwan. A pod for a pad? Just the thing to attract wealthy holidaymakers in Taipei! San Zhi comes straight out of a Jetsons rerun, an unfinished ultramodern resort with rainbow-coloured rooms, shaped like flying saucers. Some say construction wasn’t completed because the builder ran out of funds, while popular belief maintains it became a graveyard for those who perished in accidents during its construction, making it literally a ghost town!