Today we will share some important information on ghost towns, abandoned settlements and deserted cities each with their own sad story. These draw tourists from all over the world as these vacant spaces give an experience of a Post-Apocalyptic world. Most of these places have a long history but due to rapid urbanization and inability of the middle class to pay for homes has given rise to such towns in developing nations like China and India. The very disturbing truth about the greed to conquer and earn profits has led to such ghost towns. It is indeed saddening that we as humans are looking to expand our territory and influence but do not want to develop what we already have.
Let’s read more about these towns to understand this phenomenon that has taken place at various locations due to a myriad of reasons.
Hashima – Japan
Hashima Island is located about 15 kilometers from the Japanese town of Nagasaki in the East China Sea. It was once just a rock sticking out to the water but in the 19th century, the Japanese discovered huge deposits of coal here. Since 1810 the coal industry started to develop here. One hundred years later Hashima became a major mining center and one of the most important industrial facilitators in Japan. The mines were in operation until 1974 when they ran out of coal. During this time Hashima mines were one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Hashima mines were among the most densely populated places on the planet during this period. Nearly five thousand people were living here per one square kilometer, according to some estimates in 1959. But the mines were closed, and the island was completely abandoned within a few weeks, turning it into a ghost town. Hashima’s travel was banned for many years and punishable by law, but you can visit a specially developed part of the island. As to why exploring the whole island is prohibited is not clear.
Abandoned City of Pripyat
This Ukrainian town lies near the catastrophe site of Chernobyl in 1986. Soaked with toxic nuclear radiation, Chernobyl was cut off from the rest of the world for decades, and left to rot. Similarly, the nearby town of Pripyat was affected and all inhabitants had to be evacuated. Several street artists and adventurers have been exploring the region since the level of radiation fell, but a longer stay can cause serious health issues. On 26 April 1986, during a test to see how much power was needed to keep the Nuclear Reactor No. 4 running in the event of a blackout, due to some very poor sense of judgment by the person in charge that fateful night the reactor exploded causing fire and damage to the building, releasing extremely dangerous levels of toxic radiations into the air, which over time polluted millions of square miles in hundreds of kilometers. The IAEA reports that about 30 people were killed by the blast and associated radiation exposure, with several thousand additional deaths due to higher incidence of cancer over the long term.
The nearest town to the No. 4 reactor was Pripyat, a town of 49,000 built in 1970 to house Chernobyl employees. It had 15 primary schools, a large hospital complex, 25 supermarkets, 10 gyms, parks, cinemas, warehouses, a swimming pool, an amusement park, and other features of a thriving community. It was one of the most glamorous and comfortable cities in the Soviet Union according to the people who lived there. Just over three kilometers from the site of the accident, in just three hours, the entire city was evacuated on April 27. It was only possible because this scenario was thought well before and was documented under plant’s building plans.
Bodie – California
Bodie is a ghost town located in the western parts of the USA east of San Francisco in Mono County California on the border with Nevada. It all started with the gold rush in 1859 a certain W. S. Bodey discovered a gold deposit here, but in the same year, he perished in a blizzard and subsequently the members of the Bodie family founded a town on the site and named it after the gold digger. Another line of gold deposit was discovered nearby and Bodie began to grow rapidly. By 1879 Bodie has a population of five to seven thousand people. One legend says Bodie became California’s second or third largest city in 1880, but a few years later due to a drop in revenue from the gold mining residents began to leave the area. By 1900 the population had decreased tenfold a little later a railroad leading to Bodie was dismantled and soon after a major fire destroyed the commercial parts of the city making bodies demise inevitable. Today the once large city has been turned into an open-air Museum. Bodie is considered to be the best-preserved ghost town in the United States with a hundred and seventy buildings that look perfect both on the outside and the inside thanks to the dry climate. Bodies buildings are preserved almost perfectly; you may even expect a resident is about to appear around the corner or somebody may laugh or play a cheerful song.
Pyramiden – Russian
Pyramiden is a Russian coal mining settlement on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Located in a picturesque place at the foot of a pyramid-shaped mountain. Previously Pyramiden was the northernmost place in the world where coal was mined. In the hay day up to a thousand people lived here, not much you will suspect, but if you remember how far the village is it becomes clear that Pyramiden was, in fact, a northern metropolis. They were not only houses, but there was a hospital, a kindergarten, a swimming pool, a huge cultural and Sports Complex, a farm and even a hotel. But all good things come to an end the mine closed in 1998 and people were relocated to nearby towns. As a result, Pyramiden turned into a ghost town. It was only in the second half of the 2000s did some life come back here but all for the sake of tourism. Now the locals say that after all the village isn’t abandoned but maintained, but in summer there aren’t many residents. The population of Pyramidan barely reaches 20 people, almost all of whom work in the tulip hotel. Today, only a hotel, a boiler station, and a garage continue to operate in this abandoned town, or if you prefer a preserved town. There is no mobile service and no internet in Pyramiden and you need to use satellite phones to communicate with the outside world.
Akarmara – Abkhazia
At Akarmara 25 years ago 5000 people were living in the town. Akarmara in Abkhazia now has only 36 people living mostly elderly who have nowhere to go. There used to be coal mines, a hospital and a school in the village but today everything looks abandoned. The school closed in 1998 and today animals roam through the city center and they’re fed by the remaining residents of the village because they are one of the few sources of food there. There is known to be a shop somewhere in town but it’s almost impossible to find. The region located in the mountains was once considered an elite place of residence. People waited for several years to buy an apartment here. But, today beautiful dyeing houses are buried under the vegetation and nature is gradually conquering back the place.
Houtouwan – China
About fifty years ago the Chinese village of Houtouwan located on an island in the eastern part of the country was buzzing with life. About 2,000 fishermen were living there with their families. The town was a major port and fish was sent from here to the mainland China. It looked like it would be like this forever, but the port declined slowly, and the villagers soon began to leave the town, finally, there were only a few people left who had to follow, and then nature did its job. The village was covered with grass, and the building walls began to collapse and were coated in ivy, which looked like a thick green carpet. They say that no more than ten people live here today now Houtouwan is visited only by tourists to admire the fascinating emptiness of the green village and to take pictures, there are no new settlers either because there’s absolutely nothing to do here.
Chinese Ghost Cities
Abandoned towns, villages and islands were founded often decades ago, and sometimes hundreds of years ago. But the Chinese ghost towns are unique. Empty apartment buildings, abandoned streets with blinking traffic lights, hypermarkets without products or customers, kindergartens without children, universities without students, giant statues in the middle of empty squares, museums without displays or tourists, these towns have been built very recently and not for the shooting of a new post-apocalyptic film. China is actively trying to urbanize moving people from villages to cities. The government allocates money in developing new cities, just as they are built, these remain empty. The problem is the apartments are just too expensive and people can’t find jobs nearby, therefore these new cities turn into ghost towns. However, they do not deteriorate with time, as the government keeps a close eye on them. Lawns are mowed, the streets are washed and in some places, there’s even public transport. All in all, there is everything for life here except for people. In a race to urbanize and without proper planning these Chinese Ghost towns are becoming more common. Another place called Yujiapu Financial District, where about 80% of the office space is empty, and construction on multiple buildings has abruptly stopped. The vacant city could represent a breakdown of the growth model that has fuelled China in recent years.
Kolmanskop – Namibia
There are ghost towns in the desert too although it’s much harder for them to fight against the influence of time and the forces of nature, such places still exist. Kolmanskop is located in southern Namibia in the vast coastal desert of Namib. It has been an abandoned city for more than 60 years now in 1908 when Namibia was still under German control a railway worker named Zacharias lo Walla found a diamond while clearing the sand soon there was a diamond fever in the region similar to the California Gold Rush. It was something like that but instead of gold, everyone was just obsessed with diamonds. According to some reports by the end of 1914 about a thousand kilograms had been extracted from the ground of course along with the volume of diamonds the city kept growing. There was a hospital, a ballroom, a power plant, a theatre, and a casino, but after the Second World War the reserves of diamonds gradually ran out and people began to move to other deposits. The city was finally abandoned in 1956 and its territory has since been gradually reclaimed by the desert. Tourists who visit Kolmanskop today wander through the houses sinking their knees in the sand.
Roghudi Vecchio – Italy
Remains of Greek settlements can be found at various locations other than Greece, for example, the ghost town of Roghudi Vecchio, the last Greek settlement in Italy is lost in the mountains of southern Italy. Here you will not find a temple of Apollo or painted walls and ceilings like other Greek settlements. Roghudi Vecchio was founded in the 11th century, the Greeks began to colonize this region of Italy as early as the 8th century BC so nothing is surprising about it and it is worth saying that this settlement was inhabited for a long time only after to very severe floods in 1971 and 1973 was Roghudi Vecchio declared completely uninhabitable and the locals were relocated to neighboring villages. Today only the ruins are left on the site of the legendary town.
Burj Al Babas – Turkey
What you see in the above image is not some editing nor a strange Disneyland rip off neither a screenshot from The Sims. These are real villas built in Turkey. They were built and then abandoned. The construction of Burj Al Babas began in 2014. These were supposed to be a luxury town for rich people with villas near the Turkish city of Medina. To give the villas a royal look the developer decided to build many castles instead of ordinary houses. The center of the complex was supposed to include a shopping center, a cinema and other facilities open to residents in general. It wasn’t a bad idea but the execution was very poor. The total cost of the project was more than 200 million dollars and each house would cost from 400 to $500,000. In several years the Sirat group managed to sell a few hundred houses to clients from Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia but soon the sales stopped and the company went bankrupt. According to the architect at the complex, this was related to the changes in oil prices. As of January 2019 five hundred and eighty-seven of the planed, seven hundred and thirty-two houses had been completed and today these tiny castles stand in the middle of nowhere gradually collapsing day by day.
Varosha – Famagusta, Cyprus
Miles of sand where only you and nature are here. Dozens of fantastic hotels where you’re going to have a variety of rooms. Just remember to pack your bolt cutters to make a hole in the fence and watch out for the army patrols with orders to shoot at first. Before the partition of Cyprus in 1974, Varosha-a resort in Famagusta-was booming. The rich and famous have been drawn to some of the best beaches on the island.
Nearly 40 years ago, Turkey invaded Cyprus and annexed the northern third of the island after years of interethnic conflict resulting in a coup backed by Greece’s former military junta.
As its soldiers invaded Varosha, a Greek-Cypriot village, the residents fled, hoping to return when the situation calmed down. Nevertheless, the resort has been shut down by the Turkish army and has been a ghost town ever since. UN Resolution 1984 calls for the return of Varosha to UN control and prohibits any effort to resettle it by anyone other than those who have been forced out.
Noida Ghost Towns – India
Insolvent real estate developers left almost half a million apartments unfinished after a decade-long construction spree ending in Noida, India, crushing the hopes and devouring the hard-earned money of middle-class people who were supposed to fuel India’s economic upsurge. Noida happens to be one of the most promising urban residential and economic centers located near Delhi, the capital of India. This region also was supposed to be hinterland for the massively populated capital. Like China, the Indian government has connected these Ghost towns with roads, civic amenities, and even metro. But as the apartments are left unfinished people cannot move in. The middle-class who generally takes loans to fulfil a distant dream such as having a home is saving all that they earn to repay the housing loan. It is still not clear; will the apartments be ever completed or not.
Cities and towns that were once centres of economic success have now been reduced to a post-apocalyptic town that has flora and fauna as residents. But what is more disturbing is that newly constructed cities of China and India joining the list. These developing countries have massive populations and the resources that support billions of people are limited. Policy failures, bankruptcy and poor judgment by governments have led to this phenomenon. It is not long when a ticking time bomb goes off, as all these towns have been developed from bowered money and if there are no returns that debts can destabilize even the most rock-solid economies.