It's insane to think that these 15 largest abandoned cities exist in the world, but they do. Let's find out more...
With the global population growing exponentially, you would think that every city was bursting at its seams. Especially when you see images of places like Tokyo in Japan, that is home to an incredible 38,001,000 people.
But, as human beings are sometimes unpredictable, unstable and, frankly, weird, we find ourselves with abandoned or semi-abandoned cities dotted all around the world. There are many out there, but this is a list of 15 of the largest. It's pretty creepy, to be honest.
15) Hashima Island, Japan
This island sits nine miles off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan and is just one of 505 abandoned islands in the area. This one, in particular, has been nicknamed Battleship Island and was built up from 1887 after it became home to undersea coal mines. At its peak, Hashima was home to 5,259 people but, when coal reserves dried up in the 1970s, the mine was closed and the residents departed. Today, it stands as a symbol of the industrialisation of Japan and the forced labour that helped build it.
14) Kangbashi, China
Technically this city isn't abandoned, but it makes the list because, since its rapid development from 2003, hardly anyone has moved in. This urban real estate development in the Ordos prefecture was supposed to be home to 3,000,000 people, but as of 2017, only 135,000 people live there. Effectively, this is a modern-day ghost town.
13) Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
This city is the capital of Turkmenistan and home to a million people, but you would never say so. Ashgabat has been nicknamed the City of the Dead, and travellers refer to it as the new North Korea with a Las Vegas facade.
Confused? Well, you see, the country has made a bucket-load of money from its natural gas and oil resources over the past decade or so, and they've splashed out on reforming the city. This includes white marble buildings, a Guinness Bock of Records winning amount, actually, and absurdly large boulevards. It holds other records too, like the world’s largest enclosed observation (Ferris) wheel and the largest mural of a star. It also has the largest fountain and the largest image of a Turkmen carpet. Useful things.
Unfortunately, it's run by a Stalinist, repressive dictator who has imposed strict laws on its citizens that, if broken, may result in death. Thus, nobody ventures out unless they really have to.
12) Ruby, Arizona, USA
Ruby is a long-abandoned mining town that looks like it was made for a Hollywood cowboy horror flick. In the early 20th century, it was home to 1,200 people, including the gruesome Ruby Murderers. Unfortunately, by 1940, the mine had closed and financial prospects for the population looked dire so, within a year, the town was abandoned. Nowadays, two people call Ruby their home and give tourists tours of the preserved mining town of yore.
11) Tianducheng, China
This is just one of a series of new cities in China that are replicas of famous towns in Europe and the US. Tianducheng is a Paris knock-off, with its very own Eifel Tower. Sited on 12-square miles of rural China, the city has a population of just 2,000 people, with many complaining that it doesn't have enough Chinese heritage. Go figure.
10) Pripyat, Ukraine
This is possibly the most famous of them all. Pripyat housed 50,000 people until the power plant next door exploded. That happened to be Chernobyl, and within 24-hours, Pripyat was the most radioactive city in the world. Needless to say, not many people stuck around. 35 years later, the town is still radioactive and abandoned, but it is a popular tourist destination that's considered to be relatively safe.
9) Oradour-Sur-Glane, France
In 1944, the Nazi SS soldiers massacred 642 innocent residents in just hours. The rest of the villagers up and left, abandoning their homes forever. The town never recovered, but after the war, it was decided that it would not be rebuilt, instead, it would stand as a reminder of the atrocities of war for generations to come.
8) Bodie, California, USA
This is an American gold rush-era ghost town that, in its heyday around 1880, housed up to 7,000 residents. It had a post office, church, cemetery, China Town and brass band. Oh yes, and a red-light district and 65 saloons. Priorities! Soon, though, gold was discovered elsewhere too, and people started to move on. By 1942, when the mine closed, there were just 90 people left.
7) Craco, Italy
Sitting atop of a 1,300-foot tall cliff, Craco has been home to Italians, Greeks and Romans. That's because it's been around for centuries – until 1963 that is – when a series of natural disasters had the residents fleeing for their lives. Nowadays, only 35 people are allowed into the town at once because it is slowly crumbling to dust.
6) Humberstone, Chile
Another old mining town, this time in the Akatama Desert in Chile, it was named after its founder, James Humberstone. He was a British chemical engineer who made a fortune mining the desert for saltpetre, a mineral used to produce fertiliser. When the British banned the export of saltpetre to Germany during World War II, it put the town out of business and nearly destroyed the country's economy in the process.
5) Mandu, India
This 500-year-old city is now a tourist destination for the locals, showcasing some of India's most beautiful architecture. Mandu was a fortress town and the Muslim capital of an Indian northern state from 1401 to 1561. Almost completely unheard of in the rest of the world, Mandu is a treasure-trove of Indian history and a place of worship when celebrating the birth of the elephant god, Ganesh.
4) Varosha, Cyprus
In the 1970s, Varosha was a vibrant city in Cyprus, visited by famous Hollywood celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Bridget Bardot. Now, the city lays abandoned under the guard of the Turkish army who will shoot trespassers on the spot. During the 1974 invasion by Turkey, thousands were chased out of their homes and tourists from their hotels and the government put it under permanent lockdown.
3) Centralia, Pennsylvania, USA
In 1890, Centralia had 2,761 residents, many of whom worked for the local mining companies. By 2017, just five remained. Why? Well, in 1962, a fire erupted in one of the coal mines and hasn't stopped burning. It spans 800 miles at 300 feet deep, and experts reckon it'll burn for another 250 years. The raging fires have caused the ground to become unstable, and the town is deemed unsafe, so everyone moved off.
2) Balestrino, Italy
Balestrino is another abandoned hillside town in Italy, but nobody knows why. The authorities have fenced it off too, and nobody knows why either. In fact, it is a mystery as to when everyone left, or even who they were.
1) North Brother Island, New York, USA
This creep-fest was uninhabited until 1885 when North Brother Island became the new home for Riverside Hospital. It specialised in quarantined diseases like smallpox until the 1930s when it was closed. After WWII, it became a home for army veterans, and then a rehab centre for young drug addicts. Unfortunately, this turned sour and was accused of being a hostile prison situation and was shut down in 1963. Since then, many politicians have applied for various permits, but none have been approved, allowing the buildings to be reclaimed by nature.