It is hard to leave a home permanently unless there is a compelling reason for it. Throughout human history, people have migrated to escape wars and natural calamities or because the living conditions were no longer viable, leaving what are called ghost towns behind. Abandoned and empty, yet filled with memories of a prosperous time and stories of a tragedy, these ghost towns of the 20th century are truly a remarkable sight.
1. Hashima Island, Japan
Also known as Battleship Island, Hashima Island, which had long tunnels that led to the coal mines under the ocean, was purchased in 1890 by Mitsubishi Corporation for coal mining. The island soon became a dwelling place with huge concrete apartment buildings for the miners who worked there and their families.
During the Second World War, when the Japanese men went to war, the Japanese government had Korean and Chinese men forced to work in the mines.
By 1974, as coal got depleted, the mines were closed down leaving empty apartment buildings and a little bit of garden that the workers tried to grow on the bleary mining island. (source)
2. Pripyat, Ukraine
The city of Pripyat was founded in 1970 to house the workers, engineers, and scientists of Chernobyl and it was built around 100 km away from Kiev. Unlike the cities of military importance, Pripyat was not restricted until Chernobyl disaster.
By the time the city was evacuated, a day after the disaster in 1986, the population had reached 49,360. There was a total of 13,414 apartments in 160 apartment blocks, 18 halls of residence, 21 schools, a hospital, and all other amenities.
An indoor pool known as Azure Swimming Pool was used by liquidators – people tasked to take care of the disaster aftermath – until 1996. It is now abandoned as well. (source)
3. Kolmanskop, Namibia
Kolmanskop was a very rich diamond mining village founded by German miners who began settlement. It started when a worker found a diamond while working in the area and showed it to his German supervisor, August Stauch, who is considered the discoverer of the diamond deposits in Namibia.
The German government soon declared the area prohibited and began mining work. With the enormous riches, the village soon began to develop with buildings of German architecture, hospital, ballroom, casino, and many other amenities including ice factory, x-ray station, and railways.
The town was abandoned in 1954 as the diamond field was slowly depleted. (source)
4. Quneitra, Syria
Quneitra was built during the Ottoman era as a way station to Damascus for the caravans. Since the early 20th century, the city has been caught in various conflicts.
In 1946, it was part of the independent Syrian Republic; in 1964, it was the capital of Queneitra Governorate; in 1967, it came under Israeli control; and in 1973, it was briefly recaptured by Syria and again came under Israeli control.
In 1974, the city was almost completely destroyed during Israeli withdrawal. Syria refused to rebuild the city and discouraged people from living there. (source)
5. Oradour-sur-Glane, France
The village of Oradour-sur-Glane was under the Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War and on June 10, 1944, 642 of the villagers were massacred by a Nazi Waffen-SS company.
The battalion sealed off the village ordering the villagers to assemble to have their identity papers examined. The men were taken into barns and sheds, shot in the legs and the barns were set on fire. The women and children were locked in the church which was set on fire.
After the war, another village was built nearby and Oradour-sur-Glane was decided not to be rebuilt and to remain as a memorial to the dead. (source)