Top 10 Creepiest Real-Life Ghost Towns



Top 10 Creepiest Real-Life Ghost Towns

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Your bucket list just got a whole lot creepier! For this list, we'll be looking at the most unsettling ghost towns and urban areas around the world, whether they are partially or completely abandoned or in decline. Our countdown includes Hashima Island, Chacabuco, Pripyat, and more!

Top 10 Creepiest Ghost Towns on Earth

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 creepiest ghost towns on Earth.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most unsettling ghost towns and urban areas around the world, whether they are partially or completely abandoned or in decline.

Have you visited any of these locations? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Varosha

The disputed area of Varosha is truly something to behold. On one side are the idyllic white sand beaches and blue waters of Famagusta, Cyprus. But swimmers need only turn their heads to see the military blockades and fences and the distant sight of an abandoned city, its grey towers standing utterly abandoned. In its heyday, Varosha was a popular tourist destination visited by the likes of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. However, tourism stalled following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and the city’s inhabitants fled the area. Varosha has remained abandoned since the mid ‘70s, although a population of 226 was reported in the 2011 census. In 2020, some parts of Varosha were finally opened to the public.

#9: Hashima Island

Located ten miles from Nagasaki is Hashima Island. The island spans sixteen acres, and contains both a famous sea wall and crumbling concrete apartment buildings. It began its life as a seabed coal mining facility, operating from 1887 to 1974 (coincidentally, the same year that Varosha was abandoned). The island’s population peaked in 1959 with over 5,200 permanent residents. Unfortunately, Japan began replacing coal with petroleum throughout the ‘60s, and work on Hashima Island soon dried up, forcing its inhabitants to leave for better opportunities. It has remained barren ever since, although the island is open for tourism. It has also been used as a filming location for TV and movies, and it served as Raoul Silva’s hideout in “Skyfall”.

#8: Consonno

Back in the early 1960s, Italy was experiencing an economic boom, and a rich entrepreneur named Mario Bagno had visions of a Las Vegas in Italy. He purchased a plot of land and began building the so-called City of Toys, which was meant to attract tourists from nearby Milan. Like Vegas, Consonno was filled with kitschy buildings and attractions. However, an unforeseen tragedy struck the city, with the main road leading into Consonno being washed away in a storm. It spelled doom for prospective tourism, and construction on Consonno was permanently halted, despite many of its buildings nearing completion. The site is currently accessible, but visitors certainly won’t find the glitz and glamour of Italian Vegas.

#7: Kolmanskop

Found in Africa’s Namib desert is a sandy ghost town by the name of Kolmanskop. Afrikaans for “Coleman’s head”, Kolmanskop was founded in the early 20th century, when German miners looking for diamonds settled in the area. The village had it all, including a casino, theater, and even Africa’s first tram. The area began to decline in the late 1920s when a greater source of diamonds was found hundreds of miles to the south in Oranjemund, prompting many of its inhabitants to pack up and move. Furthermore, the price of diamonds was dramatically decreasing. The village was abandoned for good in 1956, and today many of its buildings have been reclaimed by the desert, its hallways overflowing with invading sand dunes.

#6: Craco

The beautiful Craco was a victim of... plumbing. Found in the Italian province of Matera, the area of Craco has been inhabited since at least the 8th century BCE, and reached a population of over 1,000 in the 1500s. Unfortunately, poor infrastructure in the water and sewer systems eventually resulted in a series of devastating landslides, and much of Craco was evacuated in the early 1960s. It was abandoned entirely after the 1980 Irpinia earthquake, which killed up to 5,000 people and displaced 250,000. Today, Craco is a popular film location, appearing in the likes of “Quantum of Solace” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

#5: Bodie

A man by the name of W.S. Bodey discovered gold east of the Sierra Nevada in 1859, prompting the creation of a small mining camp. The Standard Company then found a deposit of gold-bearing ore in the area, and a boomtown was quickly established as people flocked to seek their riches. By 1879, Bodie had a population of 10,000. However, the early 1900s brought about record-low mining profits, and the closure of the Standard Consolidated Mine. Despite a severe drop in population, Bodie remained operational until 1942, when the local post office ceased operation, and the last gold mine was ordered closed. It is now an authentic Wild West ghost town, full of blowing sand and dust, creaking wood planks, and empty saloons.

#4: Akarmara and Gagra

War and strife take their toll. And so they certainly have in the highly-disputed region of Abkhazia, Georgia, particularly in the abandoned urban area of Akarmara. The town of Gagra in the region found popularity in the early 20th century when a member of the Russian royal family established a resort in the area, which eventually became a tourist destination and holiday getaway for wealthy Soviet citizens. But like the hard-up mining town of Akarmara, Gagra suffered horribly in the War of Abkhazia in the early ‘90s, with some buildings remaining in ruins. While the larger resort area of Gagra has somewhat rebounded and hotels are still open to primarily Russian sun-seeking vacationers, Akarmara is essentially abandoned, complete with crumbling buildings and rusting vehicles.

#3: Chacabuco

Like Gagra, the abandoned town of Chacabuco is steeped in a disturbing history. It is found within the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile and was founded in the mid-1920s as a booming nitrate town. Unfortunately, the invention of synthetic nitrate proved detrimental to the town’s economy, and it was abandoned in 1938. In 1973, the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet turned Chacabuco into a prison camp, and it held nearly 2,000 Chilean prisoners. Today, Chacabuco stands eerily abandoned, both a shell of its once prosperous self and an unsettling reminder of Pinochet’s dictatorial reign over the country.

#2: Oradour-sur-Glane

Locatedin central France, Oradour-sur-Glane was a thriving little village before Nazi occupation in World War II. On June 14, 1944, the village was the site of horrible violence at the hands of the Waffen SS. Much of the town was razed and burnt, and it remains as such to this day. French President Charles de Gaulle decreed that Oradour-sur-Glane would remain in its ruinous state as a tribute to its fallen citizens. Today, visitors are met with the horrible sight of crumbling and blackened buildings, rusting machinery, and abandoned everyday items like bicycles, sewing machines, and vehicles - horrible reminders of lives prematurely taken.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Terlingua, Texas
Mining Town Left Mostly Abandoned

Site of an Underground Coal Mine Fire Burning Since 1962

Deception Island,Antarctica
Deserted With an Abandoned Whaling Station

Devastated by the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

A Hamlet in the Faroe Islands With Four Permanent Residents

#1: Pripyat

Perhaps the most famous ghost town in the world, Pripyat, Ukraine was a closed city that housed the employees of the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. By 1986, it had a population of nearly 50,000 residents. Of course, this was the site of the famous — or infamous — Chernobyl disaster, with fatal plumes of radiation blown into the atmosphere. Pripyat was evacuated (following a lengthy and costly delay) and has remained abandoned ever since. It is the quintessential ghost town, complete with dirty and silent buildings, everyday items littering lived-in apartments, empty city squares, and even the famous Pripyat amusement park sitting rusted, still, and overgrown. It’s a sad reminder of what was and what could have been.