7 Creepy Abandoned Cities From Across The World

Published April 22, 2014
Updated March 12, 2024

From California to Norway to Taipei, these once-thriving places are now abandoned cities.

Abandoned Cities

Across the world are cities and places that once thrived but now lay in ruins. These abandoned cities, which are often referred to as ghost towns, can be as beautiful as they are haunting.

Their decay causes our imaginations to run wild, conjuring images of a place lost to time and just what kinds of life may have passed through its city limits. Some have rich and glorious pasts while others have a dark and troubled history.

Abandoned Cities: Sanzhi Pod City


Sanzhi Pod City is located just outside of New Taipei City, Taiwan. Construction of this UFO-style housing development began in 1978, and was intended to be a vacation resort marketed toward US military personnel.

After several fatal car accidents during construction and an equally devastating loss of investment, the project was scrapped.

San Zhi Abandoned City

Source: Deviant Art

Many attribute the pod city’s bad luck to the bisecting of a Chinese dragon statue near the front gates in order to widen the road. Though the area had become a tourist curiosity and the subject of an MTV film, the pods were demolished in 2010 to make way for a commercial seaside resort.

Abandoned Cities: Bodie, California

Bodie, California is a true Wild West ghost town. Officially becoming a historic state park in 1962, Bodie boasts 200,000 visitors a year, but like so many other towns whose existence hinges on primary commodities, the former gold rush town withered away as the gold ore dried up.

The term “ghost town” was first used to describe Bodie all the way back in 1915. It has been named as California’s official state gold-rush ghost town.

Bodie Ghost Town

Abandoned Ghost Towns

Abandoned Cities: Kowloon Walled City

Abandoned Cities Kowloon

The Kowloon Walled City was a densely populated, ungoverned area in New Kowloon, Hong Kong. Originally a Chinese military fort, it fell under the control of the Triads after the government gave up control.

Known for drug trafficking and prostitution, at its ‘high point’ the city had 33,000 residents within its .010 square mile area, building their living quarters upward instead of outward and storing a whopping 4,000 pounds of drugs within its borders.

Abandoned Cities Kowloon Rooftop

From 1987 to 1993, British and Chinese governments had the area systematically evacuated due to persistently awful sanitary conditions, slowly turning it into a post-apocalyptic looking shell of a city.

Though the area was demolished in 1994, Kowloon Walled City Park opened in December 1995, and still contains some artifacts including its yamen (government) building and remnants of its South Gate.

Today, a verdant park may be found where the Walled City once stood tall. For a more encompassing look at the history and present of Kowloon, be sure to see this video produced by the Wall Street Journal:

Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned Pripyat

A testament to the destructive power of nuclear energy, Pripyat, Ukraine was a booming Soviet city before the Chernobyl catastrophe. The power plant’s tragic meltdown spurred a sudden and rapid evacuation of Pripyat and the surrounding areas.

Everything was deemed contaminated and was therefore left behind.

Abandoned Cities Pripyat Schoolhouse

Source: Flickr

Over the years, vandals have struck most of the buildings, hastening the ruin started by time and the elements. Not ones to miss out on a moment to profit, however, in 2005 an American entrepreneur founded a company to give tours of the Chernobyl area today.

Be sure to catch this amazing overhead video of Chernobyl and Pripyat:

Abandoned Cities Pripyat Ghost Carnival

Hashima Island, Japan

Abandoned Cities Battleship Aerial

Hashima Island, Japan (also known as Battleship Island because of its shape when viewed from above) is now one of 505 uninhabited islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, about 9 miles from Nagasaki. From 1887 to 1974, the island was inhabited and run as a coal mining facility.

But as Japan made the switch from coal to cleaner and more efficient fuel sources, the island’s owner, Mitsubishi, ceased mining operations in Hashima. At that point, the island and its dwellings were deserted, and it has been left relatively untouched since.

Abandoned Cities Battleship Tourists

As abandoned cities have become en vogue among photography enthusiasts, journalists have been allowed into the area for documentation, and some attempts have been made to stabilize various apartments and other buildings that have started to crumble.

For those who want to enter Hashima’s eerie confines but lack the budget or willpower, have no fear. In 2013, Google employees captured its aesthetics with a Street View backpack.

Battleship Island

Varosha, Cyprus

Abandoned Cities Varosha

Source: Wikipedia

Varosha, Cyprus is a suburb of Famagusta and was a leading tourist destination in the 1970s. Varosha, once sprinkled with luxury high rises and a hotspot for Hollywood A-listers including Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and Raquel Welch, fell victim to major military conflict.

With the 1974 Turkish invasion, Varosha’s inhabitants and tourists fled. The residents hoped to return to their homes after the conflict died down, but the Turkish government fenced off the resorts and have since barred admission to outsiders. The area has remained abandoned ever since.

Varosha Cyprus

In 1984, the United Nations ordered Turkey to hand Varosha over to them so that those who were forced out could negotiate resettlement conditions.

Turkey failed to comply and has since used the city as a political tool to get Cyprus to agree to Turkey’s own political terms.

Varosha Apartments

Source: Wikipedia

Pyramiden, Norway

Pyramiden, Norway was a Russian settlement and coal mining community. Sold from Sweden to the Soviet Union in 1927, the area was closed and abandoned in 1998 and is now only accessible by boat or snowmobile.

Tourists are not permitted to enter the buildings—even the ones that stand open—without prior approval.


The statue of Vladimir Lenin, another figure whose ideas have also been abandoned, is the visual focal point of the city. For those who wish to spend an extended amount of time in this frigid and decrepit city, hotels have recently been popping up to accommodate such tastes.

Abandoned Cities Rusting Swings In Pyramiden

If you enjoyed our article on the world’s creepiest abandoned cities, then be sure to check out our other posts on amazing facts and incredible abandoned structures!

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Cox, Savannah. "7 Creepy Abandoned Cities From Across The World." AllThatsInteresting.com, April 22, 2014, https://allthatsinteresting.com/abandoned-cities. Accessed June 25, 2024.