Weird Abandoned Places Around The World With Strange Backstories

When we think of abandoned places, we think of places that have been left because they no longer served a purpose or were part of history that we wanted to forget.

But there are a lot of abandoned places in the world that were left for weirder reasons than we might think, like failed construction projects, purposeful flooding, and, of course, the unyielding march of time.

Hamilton Palace, Uckfield, East Sussex, England

a picture of the abandoned Hamilton Place
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Steve Parsons – PA Images
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Steve Parsons – PA Images

This £40 million mansion is huge, bigger than Buckingham Palace. It’s been suitably called the “Ghost House of Sussex” as it remains unfinished and sitting on acres of land.

It was designed for a British multi-millionaire and convicted criminal, Nicholas van Hoogstraten. Construction began in 1985, but it was never lived in and likely never will be. The closest many of us will come is looking in through the gate surrounded by signs that read, “shooting in progress,” “dogs running free,” and “High Cross Estate, Private Property, Keep Out.”

Burj Al Babas, Mudurnu, Turkey

a picture of Burj Al Babas in Turkey
Photo Credit: Getty Images / ADEM ALTAN
Photo Credit: Getty Images / ADEM ALTAN

Burj Al Babas is a town made up of hundreds of tiny, identical castles. Construction began in 2014, and the hope was that these matching villas would serve as vacation homes for the wealthy.

The company responsible for the project went bankrupt in 2018, which caused the investors in the project to pull out. The development up to that point had cost a hefty $200 million. For now, these beautiful French chateaux style homes will sit among the rolling hills waiting for someone to decide their fate.

Tianducheng, Hangzhou, China

the city of Tianducheng that was built to look like Paris
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Guillaume Payen
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Guillaume Payen

Tianducheng was built as a large-scale replica of Paris, France. It includes a 354-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower, Parisian-style architecture, and beautiful French gardens and statues.

It opened in 2007, but interest in the suburb was so low that it eventually became labeled a ghost town. But not all hope is lost. Slowly, people are starting to have a renewed interest in the area.

Star Jet, New Jersey, USA

Star Jet rollercoaster in New Jersey
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Anthony Quintano
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Anthony Quintano

It’s a slightly jarring sight to look out into the Atlantic Ocean and see the remains of a roller coaster sitting not far from the shore. The roller coaster had been a highlight of the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, until it was swept into the ocean during Hurricane Sandy’s landfall on the New Jersey coast in 2012.

The Hull Of SS Ayrfield, Sydney, New South Wales

the hull of the SS Aryfield in Sydney
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jason Baker
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jason Baker

The SS Ayrfield was once a fierce cargo freighter but now resembles something more like a floating forest. It sits decaying in Homebush Bay, an area that used to be the center of industry in Sydney.

Unfortunately, Homebush Bay ended up contaminated by toxic waste and was left abandoned until 2000, when it was converted into a commercial and residential suburb. But the ghosts of Homebush Bay sit rusting away in the water, overgrown with mangrove trees.

Rummu Quarry, Rummu, Estonia

the remains of Rummu quarry
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Janno Kusman
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Janno Kusman

Rummu Quarry is an old limestone mine that has been engulfed by a lake that formed with groundwater. But that’s not the only thing that makes the spot so interesting. Quite near to the quarry are the remains of two prisons.

During the Soviet era, workers at the mine were provided by the nearby prisons. When the pumping of the water ceased and the mine filled back up, much of the machinery and surrounding buildings ended up underwater.

Houtouwan, Shengshan Island, China

a picture of Houtouwan, the overgrown village in China
Photo Credit: Getty Images / JOHANNES EISELE
Photo Credit: Getty Images / JOHANNES EISELE

Houtouwan was once a thriving fishing village with more than 3,000 residents. As time went on, people began to move out of the village because of its remote location. In 2002, the village was depopulated and the village was abandoned, with many of the homes still furnished.

It didn’t take long for nature to creep up and start to take over the homes, covering them in thick blankets of leafy greenery.

Cape Romano Dome House, Florida, USA

a picture of the Cape Romano Dome House
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Andy Morffew
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Andy Morffew

These turtle-like dwellings are actually an abandoned house consisting of six domes sitting on stilts off the shore of Cape Romano Island in Florida. Construction began on the home in 1972, and it was abandoned in 1992. The home was never meant to be accessed by boat and has no landing dock or way to access the house from the water.

It was originally built on an island, but the unforgiving Flordia weather and water eroded away all the land near the homes, leaving them stranded out in the ocean.

City Methodist Church, Indiana, USA

a picture of the main hall in City Methodist Church
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Peter Fitzgerald
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Peter Fitzgerald

City Methodist Church in Gary, Indiana, was built in 1906. In 1916, Dr. William Grant Seaman became the pastor and was incredibly progressive for his time. The church was built in an area that was far from religious, and Seaman wanted to change that. By 1929, he had grown very unpopular, largely because he believed in the importance of cultural diversity. Eventually, he was transferred against his will, and the church slowly entered decline.

The church closed in 1975, and by the 1990s, it was decaying significantly until much of it was damaged in a fire in 1997.

Great Train Graveyard, Uyuni, Bolivia

trains in the Train Graveyard in Bolivia
Photo Credit: Atlas Obscura / Blindcolour
Photo Credit: Atlas Obscura / Blindcolour

Uyuni has always been an important transportation hub in South America, as it connects several major cities. In the early 19th century, there were big plans for the area to become an even larger network of trains, but the idea was quickly abandoned because of rising political tensions and technical difficulties.

The trains were left where they stood and essentially forgotten about. Most of the trains date back to the early 20th century.

Ponyhenge, Massachusetts, USA

a bunch of plastic ponies in a field
Photo Credit: Atlas Obscura / Lniese
Photo Credit: Atlas Obscura / Lniese

Ponyhenge is in the middle of a grassy field off a country road in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The first plastic pony showed up in 2010, and since then, the herd of broken-down horses has grown in size dramatically.

No one is quite sure how they got there. To make it even more interesting, the ponies are often moved around, often in strange shapes. Interestingly, the town kind of likes it and has left Ponyhenge untouched.

Kennecott, Alaska, USA

a picture of Kennecott in Alaska
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Sewtex
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Sewtex

This mountain town has a beautiful spookiness to it, with its matching red buildings and stunning scenery in the background. It was the central hub for a handful of copper mines in the area.

The town had to be entirely self-sufficient and had a hospital, a mill, a grocery store, and anything else you could think of needing for a comfortable and safe life out in the Alaskan wilderness. Interest in the area dated back all the way to 1900, and it remained operational until 1938.

Graun Village, Italy

a picture of the church tower in Lake Reschen
Photo Credit: Getty Images / DEA / ALBERT CEOLAN
Photo Credit: Getty Images / DEA / ALBERT CEOLAN

This lone bell tower that can be seen in the middle of Lake Reschen is all that remains of Graun village, a once charming town in South Tyrol, Italy. In 1950, a dam was built to join three surrounding lakes into one big one. The village had to be evacuated and the water took over the whole area except the bell tower, which still can be seen from the shore.

In the winter, the lake freezes enough that you can walk out to the tower and explore it. Rumor also has it that at night, you can still hear the bells ringing.

Deception Island, Antarctica, USA

Boilers on Deception Island
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jerzy Strzelecki
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jerzy Strzelecki

Deception Island was explored for the first time in 1820 and was a desirable piece of land because of its natural harbor. The island is almost perfectly horseshoe-shaped. It became the home of a very short-lived sealing expedition.

In 1904, when the whaling industry took over the island, enough people moved to the area that they had to create post offices, a cemetery, railways, radio stations, and houses. In the 1920s, it also became a hot spot for scientific research.

The area was eventually abandoned because of nearby volcanic activity.

Shicheng, Zhejiang, China

underwater city of Shicheng
Photo Credit: Creative Commons / Capital Mandarin
Photo Credit: Creative Commons / Capital Mandarin

Shicheng has been referred to as the Atlantis of the East. It dates back to the Ming Dynasty and stands perfectly preserved underwater. It was purposely flooded in 1959 to make way for the Xin’an Dam and its adjoining hydroelectric station. Many people had to move out of the area, some of whom had family that lived in the area for centuries.

In 2001, the Chinese government funded an expedition to see what might remain of the city only to find it nearly perfectly intact.

St. George’s Church, Lukova, Czech Republic

ghost statues in St George's Church
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Matej Divizna
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Matej Divizna

St. George’s was created in 1352. The church remained functional for hundreds of years until the roof sadly collapsed during a funeral in 1968. Because many believed that the church was haunted and possibly cursed, it was left to rot.

Eventually, the community decided that they wanted to save it but didn’t have the funds. One artist came up with a spooky and fantastic idea of resurrecting 32 “ghosts” inside the church that people come from all over the world to see. The donations from tourists have brought in more than enough money to fix the roof.

San Juan Parangaricutiro, Michoacán, Mexico

San Juan Parangaricutiro in Mexico
Photo Credit: Getty Images / DEA / ARCHIVIO J. LANGE
Photo Credit: Getty Images / DEA / ARCHIVIO J. LANGE

San Juan Parangaricutiro was a small village that was destroyed when a volcano erupted nearby and covered the entire town in lava and ash. Today, you can still see the top of the San Juan Parangaricutiro church, where the altar miraculously survived the volcano’s wrath.

The town was rebuilt in the same area, and the church is still used today by those who are looking to pray at the altar.

Beelitz Heilstätten, Beelitz, Germany

Beelitz hospital in Germany
Photo Credit: Getty Images / ullstein bild
Photo Credit: Getty Images / ullstein bild

Beelitz Heilstätten has a long and bloody history. It was originally built in 1898 and served as a sanitorium for people with lung diseases until 1930. It also served as a hospital for soldiers who had been victims of British gas attacks, including a young Adolf Hitler.

It became a field hospital for the duration of WWII until it was occupied by the Soviet military in 1945, under whose control it remained until the 1990s. Today, a small section is still in use for Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders, but it largely remains abandoned.

Paltoga Village, Russia

old wooden churches in Russia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Кривошеина Мария
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Кривошеина Мария

Two churches sit nearly side by side in Paltoga Village. The wooden one, the Church of Epiphany, was built in 1773, and the stone church, Icon of Virgin of the Sign, was built in 1810. Both churches were closed and ransacked during the Soviet period. Both buildings stand in sad disrepair, missing major parts due to neglect and theft.

Hirta Island, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

a hut on Hirta
Photo Credit: Creative Commons / ntwilkie
Photo Credit: Creative Commons / ntwilkie

It’s thought that Hirta Island was inhabited for more than 2,000 years by the time it was abandoned in 1930. It’s the most remote island in the UK, and when the inhabitants left the island, they also left a village of traditional Scottish houses behind, which now lies in ruins.

The island was evacuated after the tragic death of a woman who died due to appendicitis and pneumonia, which might not have been fatal if she had access to the care of a hospital.