Around the world, you can find abandoned buildings and communities. They get left behind for a whole host of reasons.
Perhaps they no longer serve a purpose. Maybe they have encountered an unforeseen natural disaster. Sometimes people abandon buildings because of war. Sometimes, it has something rumored to do with the supernatural.
Often, you’ll find a creepy story behind whatever might have happened … chilling enough to send shivers up and down one’s spine. What remains left behind? Derelict communities and ruined buildings … both haunting and disturbing in the extreme.
Read on for a list of the 25 Creepiest Abandoned Buildings Around the World.
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1. The Deserted Cities Tourist Attractions of the World
Location: Centres of the Capital of the Worlds
As of March 2020, the coronavirus is sweeping the world, and international flights (along with tourism) have almost ceased completely. Countries are enforcing ever-tightening lockdown and curfews.
There is something creepy and alarming about seeing famous buildings like the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, now empty and closed. Until recently so full of people, these places appear abandoned, but hopefully, it’s only for a little while.
2. Auschwitz’s Crematoria Number 3
Location: Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
The concentration camp in Auschwitz was abandoned by the Nazis in the closing months of World War Two. Its purpose had been to exterminate the Jewish people and those whom the Nazis saw as other “undesirables”. Death and cruelty were handed out on a scale unimaginable, killing over one million men, women, and children in just four years … at this one camp.
Today, among the remains of Auschwitz, is the ruins of crematoria number 3. This had consisted of a dressing room, a gas chamber disguised as a shower block, and a furnace room to dispose of the bodies afterward.
Those to be killed were led there in their thousands, having been told they were going to be showered and deloused, when in fact they were going to be gassed to death. And the even grimmer reality was this was just one of many extermination camps dotted around German-occupied Europe.
3. Hiroshima Peace Memorial - The One Building That Defied the Atomic Bomb
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
On the morning of August 6th, 1945, the world and warfare changed forever when the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 70,000 people instantly. Many were vaporized, leaving behind just their shadows, permanently burnt onto the ground behind them.
Most of the city was flattened. The only structure to survive the blast at the epicenter was the Domed Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall. This ruined building has since been preserved as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It stands as a chilling reminder of the destructive power of just one bomb that was a mere 10 feet long.
4. Jonestown Community - The Cult who Committed Mass Suicide-Murder
Location: Jonestown, Guyana
This now-abandoned settlement was the site of the chilling mass suicide-murder of 909 members of the Peoples Temple cult by poison. On November 18, 1978, the cult leader of this isolated community in South America ordered the death of all its members at the site, as a form of protest of capitalism and an act of support for socialism.
Most took the poisoned grape juice or were forced to drink the juice, and all those at the settlement died. Afterward, it was looted by local people, but never re-inhabited. Instead, it was left for the jungle to slowly reclaim.
5. The Vanishing Mayans
Location: The Yucatán, in Central America
In around the 10th century AD, a whole vast empire that stretched from northern Central America to southern Mexico seemed to abruptly cease to exist and its people abandoned their large stone cities forever. They were the ancient city-states of the Mayan, whose people numbered in their millions.
No one knows exactly what happened to these people or why. There is evidence that a combination of drought, climate change, war, food shortages, and even disease contributed to their sudden downfall. But some theorists point to Mayan carvings that famously seemed to suggest a link with aliens and spaceships.
Whatever the cause, these highly sophisticated cities were swallowed up by the jungle and are only now being rediscovered with their magnificent pyramids and temples. An eerie reminder of a mysteriously vanished empire.
6. Oradour-sur-Glane - The Massacred French Village
Location: Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, west-central France
This empty village is a testimony of the cruelty of the Nazi Waffen SS, who massacred virtually the entire population of this small rural village in 1944. Approximately 642 people were murdered (including 205 children) in retaliation for local partisan activity.
A lot of those murdered had been locked up in the local church. The Waffen SS soldiers had set the building ablaze and then opened fire on it with machine guns. There was just one survivor.
The village was never re-inhabited and has been left as a memorial. The ruined church lays untouched and rusting shells of cars still remain parked where they had been that fateful summer morning, nearly 80 years ago.
7. Ancient Pompeii - Consumed by the Wrath of the Gods?
Location: Pompeii, Italy
In 79 AD, the Roman city of Pompeii was engulfed in heat (up to 480 degrees Fahrenheit) and ash (up to 20 feet deep) when the nearby volcano at Mount Vesuvius suddenly erupted violently. The city ceased to exist overnight and it was not rediscovered until over 1,700 years later.
Though the ruined city today has still not been fully excavated, over 1,100 bodies have been found, including those of dogs and horses. They were mostly found in small groups huddled together at the moment of death. Husbands and wives can be seen holding one another, while frightened lovers tightly embrace and small children desperately cling to their parents.
8. The Ghost Town of Chernobyl
Location: Chernobyl, Ukraine
What could be more chilling than an eerie, abandoned building? How about a whole abandoned town awash with deadly radiation?
Back in 1986, there was an accident at the local nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, which forced the evacuation of over 120,000 people in the surrounding area. Some have returned to the villages initially affected, but large areas, including Chernobyl, still lie in an exclusion zone due to the high levels of radiation.
It is thought that the area will not be fully safe until 2065, nearly 80 years after the accident. A most creepy thought indeed.
9. Wittenoom - The Town that Ceased to Exist
Location: Pilbara Region of Western Australia
This Australian town once had a thriving population of around 20,000 people. Its prosperity was based on its highly successful asbestos mine. It was abandoned in the 1960s when the dangers of asbestos were discovered, though not before an estimated 1,000 of its residents (5% of the population) had died of asbestos-related diseases!
The town’s name has been removed from official maps and road signs. Today, the abandoned mine, town, surrounding area, and the air are all still contaminated with the deadly asbestos dust.
10. The Mass Burning at Chateau de Montsegur
Location: Languedoc-Occitanie Region, France
This mighty former fortress is perched high on a 4,000-foot-high outcrop. It is even said to have once held the Holy Grail. In 1243 to 1244, during religious infighting in the region, the fortress endured a 9-month siege. When it finally surrendered, around 220 of its occupants were rounded up and thrown on a giant bonfire, where they were burnt to death.
Another version of events states that the prisoners voluntarily marched into the flames, sure of their salvation. The fortress is now a ruin. Although the spot where so many died in agony is meant to be a dammed and cursed spot, some believe it is actually a holy spot commemorating Christian martyrdom.
11. The Unholy History of Reading Abbey
Location: Reading, Berkshire, England
The ruin of Reading Abbey is situated in the very center of the English town of Reading. It was founded in 1121 and, at the height of the bubonic plague, it housed a lot of holy relics evacuated from the churches, including numerous body parts of saints.
It was largely destroyed in 1538 by Henry VIII during his dispute with the monasteries, having the abbot of the abbey hanged, drawn, and quartered. In and around the ruins there have been sightings of ghostly figures of monks, possibly those who had been left to starve after they fell out of favor with the king.
12. The Mysterious Royal Hotel Building Site
Location: Nakagusuku, Okinawa, Japan
This giant, multi-level luxury hotel was started in the 1970s but was never completed. Its empty shell can still be found perched on a hill dominating the local landscape near the famous Nakagusuku Castle.
Surprisingly little is known about its true history as its past is shrouded in mystery. It is said to have been built on a sacred site full of graves and that the construction of the hotel was halted after being plagued by numerous unexplained accidents among the construction workers.
The final straw came when the owner decided to camp there for the night to show the creepy stories were all nonsense. They found him the next day, half-crazed, gibbering uncontrollably. Shortly after that, he disappeared, never seen or heard of again. Construction was never resumed and the abandoned site is said to be haunted by mysterious lights, possibly lost souls released by the intrusion of the hotel’s construction.
13. The Cursed Fortress of Bhangarh
Location: Rajasthan, India
It is claimed that visitors to this abandoned, but well-preserved fortress from the 17th often get an uneasy and sinister feeling when they wander around it. It does indeed have a long association with bloody conflicts and devastating famines.
There is also a legend that, centuries ago, a local princess of great beauty, spurned the advances of a dark sorcerer, who in retaliation cursed the fortress for all eternity. Even today, people are forbidden to go into the fortress at night because of the evil that supposedly dwells there still!
14. Holy Cross Sanatorium - The Gateway to Hell?
Location: Deming, New Mexico, United States of America
When this sanatorium opened in 1923, it was said to be one of the finest in America. It was run by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic order. This huge mental hospital in the middle of nowhere specialized in helping troubled tuberculosis patients recover. But it was used only for a short time. In 1938, it closed because of financial problems.
The next year, a large part of the site was burnt down by an unexplained fire. Since then there have been persistent rumors of occult activities there, including animal sacrifices. It is said that somewhere on the site is a tunnel leading to hell itself.
15. The Tragic Sauer Castle
Location: Near Kansas City, Kansas, United States of America
Despite its name, this grand building is actually a mansion that a German immigrant built for himself and his family in 1871. It has a tragic history with one descendant committing suicide by shooting himself, a young wife hanging herself there when she thought (wrongly) that her husband had been killed in the American Civil War, while another relative (a six-year-old girl) mysteriously drowned in the building’s swimming pool.
The site soon became linked to the paranormal and there were stories of people hearing voices, as well as objects moving of their own accord. Though there is little real evidence that any of this is true, the mansion is so ominous-looking one can start to believe these stories to be true.
In 1986, the place was sold to a couple who intended to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. This never happened and it has remained abandoned for the last 30 years.
16. The Former State Mental Hospital on Plague Island
Location: Poveglia, Venice Lagoon, Northern Italy
This tiny island just off the Italian coast could well be a dammed place as it has such a gruesome and disturbing history. It was used in the 18th century as a quarantine station for these suffering from the plague. In fact, most who were sent there were simply left to die in the thousands, neglected and forgotten by society. It is believed that, over just a few decades, well over 100,000 people died and were buried all over the island in various massive pits.
Eventually, a mental asylum was built on the island and soon rumors were going around that the head doctor was carrying out grisly experimental brain surgery on the patients without the authorities knowing. Some believe that the ghosts of these he butchered came back to haunt him and he committed suicide in order to try and escape them.
Many visitors have since claimed that you can still hear cries in the long-abandoned mental hospital. Because of this, no one now dares to live on this island.
17. Chateau Miranda - The Place of the Screaming Souls
Location: Celles, Namur Province, Belgium
It’s hard to believe that this was once one of the most beautiful mansions in Europe. This 19th-century gothic-style mansion had at its center a grand 183-foot clock tower, which, due to high running costs and structural problems, was abandoned in 1991.
It had a morbid past. The architect who designed it mysteriously died before it was completed. It was also later badly damaged by an unexplained fire. Rumors go that you could hear the screams of tortured souls. Understandably, no one was ever interested in purchasing it.
The chateau recently fell into total disrepair, leading to most of it being demolished in 2017. It is said to still be a cursed spot.
18. The Hell Fire Club’s Lodge
Location: Mount Pelier, County Dublin, Ireland
In the 1700s, a group of wealthy and powerful men called the Hell Fire Club built a secluded hunting lodge. It was more like a very large house. It quickly gained a reputation for satanic orgies, black masses, and a site for animal and human sacrifices.
Legend has it that when they would meet, they always set up a spare chair, in case the devil wanted to join them that night. Then, in 1741, there was a mysterious fire at the lodge and the club moved its debauchery elsewhere. The lodge quickly fell into disrepair and is now a ruin. Some say the structure is haunted by a giant black cat.
19. Gobekli Tepe - The Mysterious Site at the Dawn of History
Location: Örencik, Sanlıurfa Province, Southern Turkey
This is one of the oldest human-made structures ever discovered. It is around 12,000 years old! Despite its importance, we know virtually nothing about the site, the people who built it, or the purpose it served. Many think Gobekli Tepe may have been a temple of some sort.
It consists of numerous megaliths, with multiple stone circles containing over 200 large stone pillars (up to 20 feet high), many with detailed carving of animals on them. It is thought that their job is to protect the deceased, though no graves have ever been found at the site.
There are also stone rooms of more than one level, which is an amazing innovation for the era. It is also a complete mystery how all this could have been done, the largest carved block used at the site weighs over 50 tons and the main complex is nearly 1,000 feet long.
20. The Ghost of RAF Montrose
Location: The former RAF Montrose, Angus, Scotland
This disused aerodrome was the first of its type in the UK and was operational from 1913 up until 1952. In its early days, it was used as a pilot training facility. Its reputation for accidents was so bad that it was said there was a crash every day and a funeral every week at the base.
Just months after it opened, Flight Lieutenant Desmond Arthur mysteriously died when his aircraft broke up while flying over the airbase. His dead body was found 500 feet away from the wreckage of his bi-plane. Ever since then, there have been dozens of sightings of his ghost around the base. It is said he still haunts the derelict site.
21. Ardrossan Castle - The Devil Cometh!
Location: Ardrossan, Ayrshire, Scotland
This ruined castle on the west coast of Scotland fell into disuse in the 17th century and was partly demolished. Legend has it that it was destroyed when it was attacked by the devil. Apparently, this attack was in revenge for the owner of the castle not giving the devil his soul, as previously agreed, for granting him magical powers.
It is even said that one of the castle’s stones has an imprint of the devil’s hoof on it where the devil struck it in anger and frustration!
22. Plokstine - The Cold War Missile Base of Death and Destruction
Location: Plokstine, Samogitia, Lithuania
This former ICBM missile site was decommissioned after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It then lay abandoned until just recently when it was restored and opened as a Cold War museum.
This site consisted of 4 silos connected by various tunnels. It is creepy to think that the 70-foot long R-12 Dvina nuclear missiles once based there could speed through the air at over two miles a second, up to a range of 1,300 miles, and then explode with a force several times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Thank goodness it never came to that.
23. El Dorado - The City of Gold
Location: North Brazil?
El Dorado is said to be a lost South American city that was fabulously rich; some legends even say it was literally made of gold! Despite many expeditions over centuries to try and find it, no one has yet succeeded.
Recent evidence shows this city may well have existed, its disappearance occurring several centuries ago in a remote region of northern Brazil. Apparently, an earthquake caused a giant lake to drain away, destroying the neighboring city’s livelihood and the local eco-system. Inhabitants abandoned the city and spread out across the South American continent.
24. The Disappearing People of Montezuma Castle
Location: Camp Verde, Arizona, United States of America
Though known as Montezuma Castle, it is, in fact, a group of houses built on the side of a cliff. They date back over 600 years.
What is so creepy is that the fifty or so people of the Indian tribe that lived there, one day in around 1425 (we do not know the exact date) simply just upped and left, leaving behind most of their possessions. It was said that even food was left uneaten on the table.
Their disappearance was not discovered for centuries as the spot is so secluded and well hidden. Although it appeared that they left in a hurry, no one knows why they left or where they went.
25. Maunsell Forts - The Ghostly Specters of World War Two
Location: Thames Estuary near London, England.
Like invading giant, metallic, alien tripods, these relics from World War Two loom out of the water at the mouth of the Thames Estuary near London. They were Army Maunsell Sea Forts, and their purpose was to spot and fire at German bombers.
These forts had a garrison of over 400 men and were nearly 80 feet tall. They were decommissioned in the 1950s. Several still remain and they are definitely a weird and creepy sight. There were also some built on the River Mersey outside the city of Liverpool, but all were demolished after the war.