Your Trip, Our Expertise.


Top 5 Abandoned Places Around The World

Abandoned Places

I’m not sure what it is, but there seems to be a great fascination with buildings, monuments and even whole towns that have been abandoned. I too find it all hauntingly beautiful - even if sometimes an abandoned place gives me the creeps. Maybe it’s the history behind the place, or the stories you can make up in your head about what happened there.

Either way, abandoned sites are not going to stop being visited any time soon, so I scoured the globe to find five of the best places that have been left to naturally decay, leaving behind a beautiful trace of what once was.

Eastern State Penitentiary - Pennsylvania, USA

If you’re a fan of crime and its history, a visit to the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will definitely be a treat. The prison was shut down in 1971 - it now serves as a museum and offers tours to people interested in its dark history. As many people died here, it is believed to be haunted. But don’t let that scare you away! The prison housed some of the most notorious criminals, such as Al Capone. I’d recommend you go on an audio tour here where you get to see the cells (including Capone’s), and can even go into “The Hole” - a room with no windows and no light in which the criminals in solitary confinement were kept. This is definitely an eye-opener as to what prisons were like back in the day.

Eastern State PenitentiarySome of the cells are surprisingly bright inside the prison

Pripyat - Ukraine

The nuclear power plant accident on 26 April 1986 in the Ukraine is said to be the worst ever (apparently the atom bombs of World War Two released 100 times less radiation than this). The small town of Pripyat was home to about 50,000 people - and the major Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant just a few miles away. When an experiment on that fateful day went horribly wrong, all of the residents were evacuated within two days, leaving it as the eerie “ghost town” it is today. As it is still a radioactive zone, people are not allowed to visit certain areas, but there are some you can get a day pass to, such as some of the buildings, houses and the famous amusement park that have decayed over the years. Just the images alone certainly bring about a feeling of empathy for the people and what they must have gone through.

Pripyat Amusement ParkThe evacuation of Pripyat has left it to become a ghost town

Christ Of The Abyss - San Fruttuoso, Italy

While this isn’t exactly abandoned per se (it was put there on purpose), the Christ of the Abyss still gives off that memorable beauty of something that has been left behind. The statue stands eight and a half feet tall and is situated in the turquoise Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of San Fruttuoso. This is especially perfect for scuba divers, as the statue is only 25 feet deep - making it a definite must-see for divers in the area. The statue was created by Guido Galletti and put into the sea in 1954. The arms of Christ are reaching up towards the surfaces, symbolising peace and blessings. There are many Christ statues in the sea, but this is the original one.

Christ of the AbyssChrist of the Abyss

SS Aryfield Shipwreck - Homebush Bay, Australia

All the World War Two history boffins out there (myself included) will know that the SS Ayrfield ship was used to carry goods and supplies to American soldiers during the war. This ship, which has seen so much courage and bravery, ran aground in 1972 in Homebush Bay off the coast of Sydney. While there are many shipwrecks around the bay, this one stands out the most - and often not because of its fascinating history. The SS Ayrfield proves to be popular with tourists and photographers from around the world thanks to the forest it houses. That’s right. The ship is commonly known as the “Floating Forest” as it nurtures a forest of fully grown mangrove trees, making this a beautifully alive picture of abandonment.

The SS Ayrfield ShipwreckThe Floating Forest. Image courtesy of Jason Baker

Beelitz-Heilstatten Sanatorium - Berlin, Germany

This is probably one of the scariest abandoned places I have come across - from the broken windows and looming presence of this huge building, to the interior which could pass as a setting for a horror film. From World War One, Beelitz-Heilstatten Sanatorium was used as a military hospital, until it was abandoned in 2000. The hospital served as a recovery ground for the likes of Adolf Hitler and as film locations for the filming of The Pianist and Valkyrie!. While some of the buildings remain open (such as the research labs), it’s the scary ones that are closed and left to decay: the surgery rooms and the psychiatric wards.

The building surprisingly still has all of its original belongings, making it hauntingly eerie to see, such as stainless steel gurneys, wheelchairs and even the electroshock treatment equipment. There are tours available to certain unfenced areas and many people enjoy taking their own illegal tour by sneaking in after hours. I wouldn’t recommend this though, as it’s said to be haunted and I have watched far too many horror movies based in mental asylums.

Beelitz-Heilstatten SanatoriumA corridor inside the hospital. Image courtesy of Chad W

Have you ever been to any of these places? We would love to hear your story, so drop us a comment in the box below!

more blog posts

Zoe Harrington

Zoe Harrington

After graduating with a degree in English Literature and a passion for writing, Zoe finally ended up at Essential Travel. An avid animal lover, Zoe is also an enthusiastic traveller and loves the richness it brings to one's life. Born in London, she has been to many European countries, the USA, Thailand and Singapore, making her always keen to inform others of the wonders of travel through her writing.