As I wrote in last week’s post, your visit to an abandoned town can spark your imagination and as a result, the creative juices are unleashed. Despite the perceived morbidity, ghost towns provide us with a look into the past where we can not only learn but reflect on the lives of those who once walked there.
I have put together a list of five unique abandoned towns from around the world for you to explore, if and when you may be able to get out and about again.
Let your imagination run wild as you walk through each town, sparking your creative juices. Imagine the mystery of what living there was like and you can make them your own; inventing the lives and history of those that once lived there. Ghost towns can become a writer’s best friend. The only limit to your creativity is your imagination.
When you think of Greece you imagine white washed buildings, cobbled alleyways, sun drenched beaches, cocktails and sunsets. But located on the north east tip of Crete lays an island once home to a Greek leper colony since 1904 until the early sixties. The island has been shrouded in mystery until the bestselling novel The Island by Victoria Hislop was written. Today, the island is a popular tourist attraction where you can walk the walled colony and imagine how those that were sent there as. Lepers created their own thriving village. The island was once connected to the mainland but because of its strategic location, it was carved out for defence fortress during the 17th century in preparation for the Ottoman Empire who took ownership if the fort.
Hashima Island Japan
A symbol of Japan’s industrial period, Hashima Island is a 16 acre ghost town and UNESCO World Heritage site in the Nagasaki Prefecture. At the height of undersea coal mining, the island was brought by Mitsubishi in 1890 and built up with modern concrete apartment buildings and stores. Workers and their families moved in and soon the island was a densely populated as people were attracted by the lure of high wages from the coal mines. However, when coal was replaced by gasoline driving down the price of coal, the mines began to close until in 1975 they were vacated altogether and the people were gone. Thus left an abandoned island with with empty buildings that began to crumble as nature moved in. Today, a post apocalyptic appeal draws the curious traveller to Hashima Island. But the only way to visit is on a guided tour introduced by the Japanese government from 2009 due to safety concerns of people wandering the ruins independently. A tour takes 60 minutes and the ferry ride out to the island takes an hour each way. Be warned, if you are one to get seasick be sure to pack seasickness tablets as the waters can be quite rough.
Abandoned since the 19th century, Kuldhara is 13th century abandoned town was founded by the Paliwal Brahmins clan and was home to approximately 1500 people in Rajasthan. Once a thriving village before 1825, but one night all traces of the people vanished suddenly one night without a trace; leaving a curse in their wake. Rumour has it that a local ruler set his sights on the village Chief’s daughter and threatened them with a huge tax burden if they did not agree to the marriage. In order to protect the girl’s honour, the villagers packed up and abandoned the town leaving a curse in their wake. A curse that if anyone tried to inhabit the village, death would follow. The village has lay abandoned ever since sending out an eerie feeling and rumours of ghostly activity. For those who dare visit, report sounds of voices and cries in the empty streets.
A small town located just outside of Sarlat in the south of France, Oradour-sun-Glane was the scene of a horrendous Nazi attack on 10 June 1944; just four days after D-Day during World War II. In revenge for supposed French resistance attacks, the Nazi soldiers rounded up the 247 women and 205 children of Oradour-sun-Glane into the church. They were massacred with tear gas and machine gun fire while the remaining 190 village men were tortured and executed. The bodies were then left under left under a blanket of ashes as the town was set on fire. The village is known as `village des martyrs’ and has stood as a ghost town for more than 70 years. Travellers can visit the town which includes an underground museum, a cemetery and a variety of artefacts from the villagers whom lived there. A haunting walk through the streets provides you with what the village was like before the attacks as you wander passed cafes, shops, hotels and even the remains of old tram tracks.
Founded 4 February 1970, Pripyat was a city built to accommodate the workers and their families who worked at the ill fated nuclear power plant, Chernobyl, in the Ukraine. It was 27 April 1986 when misjudged testing on nuclear reactor number four resulted in the world’s worst nuclear disaster when it exploded. The catastrophic impact forced the evacuation of 46,000 people from their homes in Pripyat only two miles away. Today, the city is an abandoned ghost town where you will find all the clocks frozen in time at 11:55am – the time power was cut. Pripyat is a monument to the Soviet-Russia era during the Cold War which travellers can visit on a guided tour. Some tours include an overnight stay where you can experience the eerie silence and emptiness of what was once a thriving industrial city.
All photos courtesy of Pixabay 2021