What exactly is it about abandoned places that attracts our attention in such a mystifying way? Is it their storied pasts? Their eerie aesthetics? The way they allow us to effortlessly engage our imaginations as we wonder about what they might have been like in their prime?
“Certainly, there's an aesthetic component to decaying buildings, an opportunity to enjoy these buildings outside of their original context and stumble upon unusual images that don't present themselves in intact structures,” wrote i09 blogger Lauren Davis.
But, as Davis goes on to point out, this isn’t the only reason so many people are fascinated by parks, hospitals, castles and entire towns that have been utterly abandoned and long untouched. Some who seek to explore, photograph or even just observe abandoned places are interested in learning about and preserving history, while others are simply interested in the out-of-the-ordinary things you’d likely never find elsewhere.
“[T]he real amusement comes from the ridiculous things I constantly stumble upon,” 2e, a photographer who posts his photos of decaying New York on gotham ruins, told Davis. “A manmade space over time with very little manmade disruption brings about things you'd never expect; trees growing out of piles of documents, books being repurposed as beehives, newspapers from the 30's, that kind of stuff. Then you step out of this building and you're back in the real world—a bustling block in Williamsburg or steps from City Hall, iPhones and all. Much of the appeal is the time machine I guess.”
Whether you’re intrigued by the unusual or love a deserted building that has its own great ghost story, we’re sure you’ll feel enchanted and maybe even spooked by these hauntingly beautiful abandoned places from around the world.
According to the New York Daily News, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in southern West Virginia was abandoned in 1996 after two young guests died accidentally. Though many of the old, creaky rides still stand, what was once a lively play place is now a decrepit plot of land that many say is haunted. Those who’ve dared to explore the deserted site say they’ve seen the ghost of a little girl, and according toVisit Southern West Virginia, paranormal tours of the park are currently available and the Lake Shawnee community hosts a “Dark Carnival” here in October.
This eerie, aging asylum dates back all the way to the late 1800s when it was created to serve as a treatment center for New York’s mentally ill. Long Island locals simply refer to it as the “Psych Center,” and while the large plot of land was declared a state park after the institution was shut down in 1996, the site more closely resembles the setting of a horror movie rather than a refuge for outdoor recreation.
This long-abandoned Civil War-era mental institution was left to deteriorate when it was forced to close in 1994. The brave souls who have visited since report that the building is now haunted and the current owners offer ghost tours year round. Plus, in October guests are invited to the asylum for seasonal festivities such as the Asylum Ball and Zombie Paint Ball.
The tiny island that now houses this abandoned castle was rumored to be haunted even before it was inhabited. Frank Bannerman built the castle to use as a summer home and storage space in 1901, but it was destroyed in a fire in 1969. Now, ownership of the historic site belongs to the people of the State of New York and guests are invited to explore the island and abandoned castle through guided tours.
Curbed reporter Spencer Peterson called the Château Miranda (or Château de Noisy) a “ghost hunter’s paradise.” Well, at least it looks that way. According to photographer David Baker, construction of this enormous Gothic-style structure began around 1866 and was finished in 1907. Now, Baker wrote, it’s “in a heavy state of disrepair,” but despite all of the destruction and decay it’s endured, “the building still maintains [its] beauty.”
Often referred to as Namibia’s Ghost Town, Kolmanskop was once the site of a diamond rush and a bustling city that many German miners called home. Eventually, though, it peaked and saw its decline after World War I when its inhabitants left in search of new diamond deposits. Today, more than 100 years later, many of the buildings still stand, but much of the city has been claimed by sand and it gives off eerie vibes that attract curious souls — including ghost hunters — from all over the world.
According to videographer Steve Savage, the town of Balaclava isn’t entirely deserted, but the old mill, which comprises a significant part of what he described as a “tiny hamlet,” certainly is. “I don't recommend going into the mill,” Savage wrote. “The boards are very soft and spongy and with a pretty big drop to the jagged rocks and rushing water below, one [misstep] could easily spell your death.”
According to Atlas Obscura, this Christian-themed park was built in the late 1950s and initially thrived as a Connecticut attraction. In the mid-80s the park’s owner closed it down to work on expanding the site, but he died in 1986 and it was never reopened. Now long abandoned, Holy Land U.S.A. has been widely vandalized and was even the site of a murder in 2010.
According to the Daily Mail, Dadipark was closed and abandoned more than 10 years ago after a young patron lost his arm on one of the rides. Now the creepy park’s structures are said to be rusted and covered with graffiti.
According to Finding Berlin, this 60-building hospital was constructed in the 20th century to accommodate a growing number of tuberculosis patients. During the First and Second World Wars it eventually became a military hospital, and it’s reported that a young Hitler was actually treated for a thigh injury at Beelitz. Now entirely abandoned, according to the Daily Mail, the hospital first began to decline in 1995 and was closed down completely in 2000.
This old Italian mill, which according to photographer Dennis Jarvis dates back to 900 A.D., was once a grain mill powered by spring waters. Reports say it was eventually abandoned in 1866 because the heat and humidity in the area was too intense for workers to endure.