Abandoned Sites That Are Eerily Enchanting

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Abandoned locales that will give you the shivers


As awful as it is when buildings or entire towns fall into ruin, there is something lovely and compelling about the eeriness of abandoned locations—so much so that there are YouTube channels and websites dedicated to researching abandoned areas. These collapsing sites have a sad beauty, providing a reminder that nothing lasts forever. After all, abandoned towns were once bustling, abandoned houses and castles used to be splendid homes and abandoned churches were once crowded with loyal followers.

When areas get abandoned for a number of reasons, many are deserted when the principal (often only) activity in the area—like mining or tourism—is no longer lucrative. Some abandoned areas are the product of war, natural catastrophes, the fall in train travel, and alterations in what people do during their spare time. And thus, just in time for Halloween, we’ve picked together some of the creepiest but most seductive abandoned buildings, train stations, hotels, islands, and cities throughout the world.

Old City Hall Station


Location: New York City

When the New York City subway debuted in 1904, its first official journey went from a stop beneath City Hall in downtown Manhattan. The magnificent station had vaulted tiled ceilings, leaded-glass skylights, and many chandeliers. Regrettably, this Gilded Era beauty closed in 1945 because the platform wasn’t big enough to accept the new, larger trains. Furthermore, by that point, just 600 people utilized the station each day—far fewer than the city’s other stations.

While the station never reopened, you may catch a view of the City Hall station if you take the downtown 6 line past its terminal stop; the trains still use the City Hall track as a turn-around before heading back uptown. For a better look, the New York Transport Museum provides guided tours for members. It’s one of the abandoned spots in New York City you may still visit.

1984 Olympic venues


Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina

Once the location where gold-medal dreams came true, the Olympic venues in Sarajevo today serve as a reminder of the conflict. When the 1984 Winter Olympics were held, Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the six republics that made up Yugoslavia, which was the first socialist country to organize a Winter Games. Yet six years later, the first of a series of regional conflicts broke out, culminating in the republics inside Yugoslavia earning their independence and, ultimately, the breakup of the country.

When Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, it started off a deadly conflict in the nation that lasted until 1996. At that period, Sarajevo was under siege, and several of the Olympic sites—including the bobsled track and ski jump—were utilized as battlements and fortresses. By the time the conflict finished, every edifice utilized in the 1984 Olympics had incurred major damage, producing unsettling photographs like this one. The venues stood abandoned for years, but recently, several have been renovated and upgraded.



Location: Garnet, Montana

Today but a memory of the Old West, the distant hamlet of Garnet, Montana, near Missoula, was once a busy gold-mining town. As miners began streaming into the region in 1895, they rapidly erected residences, saloons, a mill, and a school. At its height in 1898, approximately 1,000 people resided in Garnet.

Yet neither the gold nor the town endured. By 1905, most of the mines had been abandoned, and the population fell to 150. Later, in 1912, a fire destroyed half the town. By the 1940s, hardly one was left, with many individuals leaving everything, even their furniture, behind in Garnet. Today it’s a walk-through museum, and visitors can help support the preservation efforts for this piece of American history. But just because it’s a museum, that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the most haunted sites in America.

Maunsell Sea Forts


Location: Thames Estuary, England

These rusted extraterrestrial constructions still stand guard at the entrance of England’s Thames River, defending the island from a long-past menace. During World War II, the anti-aircraft sea forts secured the nation, shooting down 22 German bombers and destroying a submarine. After being deactivated in the 1950s, they served as the base of a pirate radio station in the ’60s. Like many abandoned locations, the Maunsell Sea Forts aren’t available to the public. You may, however, take a boat trip of the Thames Estuary to get a closer look at the odd constructions. Some individuals also think the Thames is one of the most haunted bodies of water on earth.



Location: Pripyat, Ukraine

The village of Pripyat may be the most infamous abandoned settlement on earth, owing to being adjacent to the site of the 1986 Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant tragedy. Thirty-six hours after the explosion, the city was evacuated, with over 50,000 people fleeing for their lives and leaving practically everything behind. You can still see the dismal remnants of schools, residences, and neighborhoods, with clocks stuck at 11:55—the hour the lights went out.

Although it may not be safe for humans to live there again due to radiation (well, at least not until 24,000 years at the exact accident site, according to some estimations), it’s feasible to visit the site briefly on an official tour. These excursions witnessed a rise in popularity in 2019, courtesy of HBO’s drama Chernobyl. Unfortunately, Pripyat has been closed to visitors since Feb. 19, 2022, owing to the Ukraine-Russia war.

Ta Prohm Temple


Location: Angkor, Cambodia

Not all abandoned sites are creepy. Those from hundreds of years ago depict a more natural cycle of human society, with historical ruins telling us how we used to live, work and pray. Take the Ta Prohm Temple. Unlike the other better-preserved temples in the Angkor region, including the famed Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm was erected in the 12th century and deserted in the 14th, after which it was reclaimed by the forest.

Now, with vines and tree roots crawling over the structure, this amazing blend of human design and nature appears like something out of a movie—and, in fact, it was utilized in the production of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. If you’d prefer to see it in person, you’ll be delighted to hear that it’s available to tourists. Check out some more classic movie and TV show locales you can really visit.

The Pines


Location: South Fallsburg, New York

The Pines was formerly a magnificent resort with 400 rooms, an indoor skating rink, a pool with a big concrete arch arching over it, and a “sky bridge” to the restaurant. In the 1950s, it was one of more than 500 hotels in the Catskills that catered to New York’s Jewish families searching for an East Coast holiday. Dubbed the “Borscht Belt,” the holiday destination dropped in popularity as air travel became more accessible, and now, the remains of these old hotels dot the countryside. Even though many have been razed, resorts like The Pines live on in movies and series like Dirty Dancing and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Michigan Central Station


Location: Detroit, Michigan

When it opened in 1913, Michigan Central Station was the highest railroad station in the world. With massive arches, marble pillars, copper skylights, and bronze doors, it was Detroit’s primary train terminal and one of the burgeoning industrial city’s greatest buildings. Yet by the 1950s, automobile excursions and air travel rose in popularity, leaving trains—and their stations—behind. After decades of decreasing passenger numbers, Michigan Central Station closed in 1988.

Although its historic significance preserved it from destruction, the structure was deemed an eyesore, robbed by looters, and vandalized by vandals. Things began to change in 2018 when the Ford Motor Company bought the famous station and the adjacent grounds, which are now a 30-acre mobility innovation area. Restorations on Michigan Central Station are now underway, with the first phase slated to open in mid-2023.

Bombay Beach


Location: Niland, California

This short-lived resort area and its abandoned hotels have a peculiar history. The Salton Sea—once California’s biggest lake—formed in 1905 when the Colorado River inundated a desert region. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was a popular holiday location, complete with resorts, known as the Bombay Beach community.

But eventually, growing salinity in the lake rendered life unsustainable, resulting in dead fish washing up onshore and a horrible stink; the lake also became contaminated by agricultural runoff. It wasn’t long before Bombay Beach was abandoned. Now, it’s home to a tiny community of artists (population: 231), their residences, and several art projects.

Hashima Island


Location: Hashima Island, Japan

Often known as “Battleship Island” because of their form, the 16 acres of concrete and steel structures are a legacy of Japan’s fast industrialization. With more than 5,000 inhabitants jammed into high-rise apartment complexes in the mid-20th century, Hashima was one of the most densely inhabited locations on earth. Many individuals who resided there were coal workers and their families, thus when the mines stopped in 1974, Hashima Island was rapidly abandoned.

Yet that’s merely the most recent episode in Hashima Island’s history. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s—including throughout World War II—the coal mines were managed to utilize forced Korean labor. At least 800 Koreans were forcefully forced to Hashima Island to dig the mines during World War II; 134 allegedly perished while working there.

Currently, travelers may join tours of Hashima Island to observe the deteriorating structures. You may also see the island in the 2012 James Bond blockbuster Skyfall.


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