5 Breathtaking Ghost Towns of 20th Century from Around the World

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

Hashima Island, Japan
Image Source: wikipedia

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.

Hashima Island, Japan
Image Source: wikimedia

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.

Hashima Island, Japan
Image Source: hashima

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)

Hashima Island, Japan
Image Source: hashima

2. Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Ukraine
Image Source: worldaffairsboard

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.

Pripyat, Ukraine
Image Source: unknownworld

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.

Pripyat, Ukraine
Image Source: unknownworld

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, Namibia
Image Source: wikipedia

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.

Kolmanskop, Namibia
Image Source: wikipedia

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.

Kolmanskop, Namibia
Image Source: craiglotter

The town was abandoned in 1954 as the diamond field was slowly depleted. (source)

4. Quneitra, Syria

Quneitra, Syria
Image Source: de.academic.ru

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.

Quneitra, Syria
Image Source: sy.iio.org.uk

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.

Quneitra, Syria
Image Source: 20min

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

Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Image Source: francecomfort

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.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Image Source: wikipedia

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.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Image Source: oradour

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)

Oradour-sur-Glane, France
Image Source: historum
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