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Abandoned Places of the World

Updated on September 12, 2013


Abandoned homes, businesses, farms, schools, and factories are scattered all around us. They've become a part of the landscape, and many of us barely notice them. It wasn't until the other day, when I was stopped near an old elementary school that had clearly been closed for decades, that my interest was peaked. What kind of abandoned areas existed elsewhere in this country? The world? And on what scale? Some research revealed more than I had ever imagined. Entire cities have been completely emptied and left to erode in time. Looking through articles, I became increasingly fascinated by how amazingly unique these abandoned places appear. These are just a few of the favorites I discovered.

Mansfield Reformatory

The Mansfield Reformatory, also referred to as the Ohio Reformatory, was built between 1886 and 1910 just outside of Mansfield, Ohio, where it remained in operation until 1990. The prison was initially constructed to house first-time offenders until they were rehabilitated and was considered one of the foremost prisons in the world. It boasted the world's largest free-standing cell block at six tiers high. The prison's step towards prisoner reform, however, was short lived, and after 94 years of operation, the prison became known for torture, abuse, and murder. Because of its reputation, the prison was closed. Today, tours of what is left of the prison can be taken, and it is said that many ghosts still haunt its halls.

The Mansfield prison served as Shawshank State Prison in the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption, and many other scenes were shot on site.

As an Ohioan, I couldn't resist including this place.

Gunkanjima, Japan

Hashima Island, known as Gunkanjima (軍艦島), "Battleship Island," acquired its name from its resemblance to a military warship. Abandoned in 1974, it is one of the 505 uninhabited islands which once served as part of the main hub of Japan's deep-sea coal mining activity. Bought by the Mitsubishi company in 1890, its purpose was to house the workers and families who were tasked with retrieving coal from the bottom of the ocean. In its heyday, the small island was home to nearly 13,000 people. When petroleum eventually became more popular, and the coal mining industry suffered a decline, the island was closed and left empty.

City Hall Subway Station, New York City

Designed to be the showpiece of the new subway system, the City Hall Subway Station was constructed over 100 years ago and served as the original southern terminal station of the first line of the New York City Subway. Unfortunately, in 1945, it eventually closed because subway traffic increased and platforms needed to be made longer to accommodate the longer trains. The station can still be seen from the #6 train, which passes through it on its way to the Bronx.

San Zhi, Taiwan

Built along a stretch of coastline in Northern Taiwan lies the futuristic and bizarre complex known as the San Zhi Resort. This luxury vacation spot, looking more like something from the Jetsons than a resort, was constructed in 1978, but when numerous fatal accidents and investment problems halted progress, the property was abandoned. Rumors that the land was once an ancient tribal burial ground keep people believing that the resort is cursed.

Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong

What began as a Chinese military fort eventually grew into a large walled city — reminiscent of the movie Dark City — spanning a mere 285,000 square feet. Within its walls were housed an unbelievable 33,000 residents. Through the years, and as the cities population sky rocketed, government presence decreased, which gave way to near anarchy as well as drug and criminal activities. The quality of life within the city was drastically behind that of Hong Kong and plans for its demolition began. Finally, and after an arduous eviction period, the city was demolished in 1994 — all its occupants relocated — and a park was built in its place.

Craco, Italy

Craco, an ancient Norman stroghold, is located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Metera. Resting high on a hill overlooking the Cavone Valley, this city can be dated all the way back to 1060, and at one time, reached a population of over 2,000 people. The city, being plagued with eartquakes and landslides, was eventually abandoned in 1963. It remains empty to this day. Because of its unique and picturesque castle ruins appeal, movies, such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and the Quantum of Solace Bond film, were shot here.

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat is an abandoned city in the zone of alienation in northern Ukraine. The empty city is what remains after its 50,000 occupants were evacuated following the the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. It was founded in 1970 to house the workers of Chernobyl and their families, but since its evacuation, it has remained empty. One iconic landmark within the city, present in video games such as, Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare, is the long-abandoned ferris wheel.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France

This French town eventually became known as the "martyred village" after the horrific events of June 10, 1944 — four days after the Allied invasion of Normandy. Under Hitler's orders, his SS guard pulled the citizens from their homes. The citizens, under the assumption that the guards were merely checking their identity papers, were mercilessly killed. In all, Hitler's men murdered a total of 642 innocent, men, woman, and children.

French president, Charles De Gaule, commissioned to have a new village built, and the original was to be forever maintained as a memorial to all those who were killed that day.

Have you visited any of these places?

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    • Mritzert1 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Canton, OH

      Sounds like a good time. I agree, if I ever have the opportunity to visit Japan, it will be one of my stops. Thanks for the comment!

    • teacherjoe52 profile image


      7 years ago

      I think I will visit that place the next time in Hong Kong.

      I like taking logging roads in British Colmbia in Canada.

      There are many ghost towns there where if you are careful, you can walk in the houses,maybe even find an old newspaper.

      Great article.

    • Mritzert1 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Canton, OH

      I appreciate it, and agree completely!

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 

      7 years ago

      Great idea for a hub and excellent photos! Voted UP and interesting. In the middle of my town sits an empty grade school after a larger one was built to handle a growing community. It's sad to see a perfectly fine building just sit and deteriorate.

    • Mritzert1 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Canton, OH

      Thanks for the great comment. I agree, visiting any of these places would be pretty incredible, and I find it interesting that you use to live near such a unique abandoned place yourself.

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 

      7 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Very interesting read! I love seeing and visiting abandoned places. There was a large abandoned hotel near where I used to live in Japan that was incredibly entertaining to walk through. It included hundreds of rooms, a zoo, water slides, and much more. It was said to be abandons because workers started dying and the owner went crazy. Anyway, great hub!


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