Do you ever wonder what the world would look like if humans were gone? You don't have to imagine anymore. There are certain places - some have been fairly well-documented - which show exactly what that world would look like.
Famous monuments of historical significance are usually very well-preserved, but many lesser-known locations have been forgotten by people for many years, and are stunning in their own way.
Abandoned places can be both ghastly and charming at the same time. They become dusty, with cracks on the walls, full of shattered windows and with trees growing inside, or possibly underwater. But at one time, hundreds (or even possibly thousands) of residents were living and working there. It's both nostalgic and intriguing.
People are fascinated by castles, islands, and even entire cities where locals just picked up and left. Exploring long untouched places can be thrilling. Learn about history and feel the story behind these 25 fascinating, unusual structures.
Kolmanskop was once the site of a diamond rush and a bustling city for German miners, according to Namibian.org. Eventually, it peaked and saw its decline after World War I when inhabitants left in search of new diamond deposits. Many of the buildings still stand, but much of the city has been claimed by sand. It gives off eerie vibes that attract curious souls - including ghost hunters - from all over the world.
This 'city' is Turkey's religious ghost town. Formerly known as Levissi (when the Greeks occupied it), Kayaköy was a flourishing community of around 10,000 inhabitants until the early 1920's, according to the BBC. After the massive bloodshed from the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), hundreds of thousands of Greeks fled the violence in Turkey. This led to a mutual compulsory population exchange in order to stop the bloodshed, and residents eventually abandoned Kayaköy.
Hashima Island, Japan
Hashima Island is one of more than 500 unpopulated islands in Nagasaki Prefecture, standing at 40 square miles in size. It was home to a major coal mining operation managed by Mitsubishi until 1974. It was actually one of the most densely populated places in world history with 83,500 people per square kilometer at its peak. The island is also known as "Battleship Island," named after its external appearance.
Buzludzha Monument, Buzludzha Peak, Bulgaria
If you look at this monument from afar, it looks like a space station. It's where the Battle of Shipka, one of the most significant in Bulgarian history, was fought. The monument was a movie location for the action thriller Mechanic: Resurrection, starring Jason Statham and Jessica Alba.
Christ of the Abyss, Italy
Flooded and then cemented to the sea floor of the Mediterranean over half a century ago, the underwater statue of Cristo degli Abissi is one of the most famous dive destinations in the entire country. It is found in the waters between Camogli and Portofino, and it commemorates the diver (and the first Italian to use scuba gear), Dario Gonzetti, who died during a dive near the spot in 1950.
SS Ayrfield Shipwreck, Sydney, Australia
This famous shipwreck is better known as the "floating forest." Many tourists and local photographers go to see the giant mangrove trees that are now growing in the over 100-year-old transport ship. Homebush Bay, located in the heart of Sydney, was designated a shipwreck yard in 1966. The SS Ayrfield, built in 1911 and deployed for wartime activities, was supposed to be dismantled in 1972, but the ship yard closed too soon.
Bannerman Castle, Fishkill, New York
This Scottish-style castle, set 50 miles north of New York City, was built by Francis Bannerman in 1901. He made his money by supplying military goods and used the castle as storage for arms and ammunition. After his death in 1918, construction stopped and the destruction of the castle began. An explosion and a fire took its toll. Visitors can explore the island and abandoned castle through guided tours.
Hirta Island, Scotland
Hirta was once home to a thriving community. Stone tools and Bronze Age quarry found on Mullach Sgar, a mountain on Hirta, suggest people had lived on the islands for at least two millennia, if not more, according to Atlas Obscura. The early 20th century saw a gradual erosion of the islanders' traditional ways of life, which included sheep farming, weaving, and fishing.
Bodiam Castle, England
If you ever want a glimpse of medieval splendor, visit Bodiam Castle. It's surrounded by lavish green foliage which is famous in the region of East Sussex. The castle was built by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, who had once been a knight of Edward III, in in 1385, mainly with the intention of defending this area against the potentially invading armies of France during The Hundred Years War.
Miranda Castle, Celles, Belgium
The "Noisy Castle," which has been silent for a quarter of a century, was built in the 19th-century in a neo-Gothic style. It was in danger of being demolished after a severe storm in 2006 damaged the structure, according to The Weather Channel. Families used to go in the summer and German troops occupied it for a bit during World War Two. It was renamed the "noisy castle" after being turned into an orphanage from the 1950s to the 1970s. The castle was abandoned in 1991 after unsuccessful attempts to sell it and turn it into a hotel, and it was demolished in 2017.
The Maunsell Sea Forts, United Kingdom
The armed towers were built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during World War II to help defend the U.K. Ultimately, all the sea forts were decommissioned by the late 1950s. People were once able to take a look inside, but nowadays organized tours are rare.
City Hall Subway Station, New York, New York
City Hall was the ceremonial terminal of the first subway project in New York, according to Columbia University. It has a sharply curved platform, a Guastavino tile arched ceiling, skylights (blackened in World War II), and plaques praising the work and those involved. It was in service from 1904 until 1945. The New York City Transit Museum holds tours occasionally, and you can also catch a quick glimpse by taking the 6 train downtown, and staying on it while it loops through the station back to the uptown track.
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Valle dei Mulini, Italy
This old Italian mill was once a grain mill powered by spring waters. There were several flour mills, built from stone as far back as the 13th century. They ground all the types of wheat needed by locals, according to Atlas Obscura. After the milling of flour was largely shifted to nearby pasta mills, the sunken area became obsolete, and the buildings were closed and abandoned in the 1940s.
Great Train Graveyard, Bolivia
This junkyard is where many of Bolivia's locamotives were left to die. The train cemetery is just outside of the city of Uyuni, which is known for its stunning salt flats. Most of the engines and rail cars date back to the 19th century and were imported from Britain. Some locomotives, however, still look as if they have a few more trips in them, despite all the rust and holes.
This is probably one of the most famous abandoned places in the world. The Ukraine city of Pripyat was once home to over 49,000 residents, until it was evacuated and abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Although the area remains abandoned, it's been deemed safe to visit and some brave outfitters offer guided tours of the site.
The cliffside Italian town of Craco has been a ghost town since the final inhabitants abandoned the city in 1980. The town's sewer and water systems compromised the ground of the already earthquake-prone hills, causing unpredictable landslides. Visitors can still explore the town on a guided tour, and despite the danger, some movies have been filmed here, such as Quantum of Solace.
Ross Island, India
You can't help but feel as if you are in the Jungle Book movie when visiting this island. Ross Island was the former British administrative headquarters for the Andaman Islands. It was even once nicknamed the "Paris of the East." What remains are old houses, a church, a bazaar, several stores, a large swimming pool, and a small hospital. Visitors are welcome to visit, and there are a few brick walkways traversing the settlement.
Kilchurn Castle, Scotland
Kilchurn Castle was built in the mid-1400s but was abandoned in the 1700s, according to Visit Scotland. The castle comprised a five-story tower-house at one corner of an irregular-shaped courtyard. The tower house still stands substantially complete, overshadowing the rest of the complex. The castle is one of the most photographed structures in the country because of its dramatic situation - at the head of Loch Awe, with the peak of Ben Cruachan visible.
Spreepark, Berlin, Germany
With its rusting rides and a Ferris wheel turning idly in the wind, this eerie, defunct amusement park fascinates locals and tourists alike. It opened in 1969, and was the only park of its type in both East and West Berlin. The park eventually closed after the owner went bankrupt. The abandoned dinosaur attractions, Ferris wheels, and swan boats give a cold, creepy chill to anyone who dares enter the desolate park.
Claire Carrion / Shutterstock.com
Nara Dreamland, Nara, Japan
Nara Dreamland opened in 1961, and has been closed since 2006. It was designed after Disneyland, and the entrance looks suspiciously similar to Sleeping Beauty's castle. The wooden rollercoaster is reminiscent the famous Cyclone coaster in New York's Coney Island amusement park. Nara Dreamland could not keep up after Universal Studio Japan opened in Osaka, and thus shut its doors, leaving behind eerie reminders of its storied past. Demolition on the park began in 2016. If you're looking for a fun place to go that's still open, check out these unique attractions at Disney theme parks around the world.