Villages, towns, and cities are abandoned for various reasons. While abandonment closed one chapter for these communities, they now attract history buffs, writers, and tourists alike. As these places become well-known ghost towns, many are protected by their local government and are open to the public. Check out some of the most well-known ghost towns below!
Hashima Island, Japan
Located about 1.5 kilometers away from Nagasaki, Japan, you will find an abandoned offshore undersea mining island called Hashima. Hashima is also known as Gunkanjima, or “Battleship Island.” Although the island was once a symbol of Japan’s rapid industrialization during World War II, island residents experienced forced labor conditions in unsafe work environments. After the Hashima mine was closed, the island was completely evacuated by 1975. Undisturbed since, the only island resident remaining is nature. Although you cannot visit Hashima independently, you can visit the island on a group tour.
The Chronicles of Hashima Island
During the Japanese industrialization, Hashima Island had a population of over 5,259 residents in 1959. Being Japan’s first major undersea coal exploitation, all of the residents’ occupations revolved around mining. By the 1960s, global demand for coal decreased as petroleum became its primary replacement. When mining operations ceased, people began evacuating the island in search of new employment. Visiting the island today is not for the faint of hearts, with the intimidating voyage and turbulent weather conditions deterring many. Even if you are allowed to visit the island on an official group tour, admittance can be refused based on the weather or the individual’s physical condition.
- The Island had a 9-story building, hospital, school, local shop, shrines, restaurants, and other facilities.
- Between the 1930s and 1940s, Koreans captured by the Japanese army during World War II were usually forced to work on the Island until their death.
- Several companies offer guided tours to Hashima for between ¥3,900 – ¥5,100 Yen, which equates to approximately $37 – $48 USD.
- Filming scenes from the popular James Bond movie, Skyfall, were inspired by Hashima Island. For safety reasons, the movie scenes were actually shot in Macau.
- In 2017, a video called ‘The truth of Hashima Island’ was publicized in Times Square of New York City. In the video, one of the laborers who survived the island labor states: “If we failed to finish our daily tasks, we would be treated as slaves.” Today island visitors can still find hundreds of abandoned graves.
The Village of Craco, Italy
It has been said that the last residents of Craco fled the area in 1991 after a landslide. For more than 1,400 years, Craco inhabitants faced various perils such as the black plague and marauding thieves. Founded in the 8th century, the abandoned village sits on a cliff 400 meters above ground level. Craco’s uninhabited castle, church, and other ruins now give this village an eerie feeling.
The Chronicles of Craco
Abandoned towards the end of the 20th century, Craco’s unfavorable climate caused its residents to migrate to North America and the valleys below the cliff. Craco has experienced significant damage from periodic earthquakes and landslides, and the public can only see it through guided tours. Craco is the backdrop for popular movies such as The Passion of the Christ and The Nativity Story. The local municipality also utilizes festivals, events, and concerts to raise funds to the site.
- In 1815, Craco had two districts called Torrevecchia and Quarter Della Chiesa Madre, which indicates that this was a large town.
- In May 2007, the Craco Society was founded in New York to preserve Craco’s culture, tradition, and history. The society’s members consist of those who fled Craco to North America.
- Six religious festivals are held here between May and October. In 2010, Craco was added to the World Monuments Fund watch list.
Let us know if there are other ancient or forgotten places around the world you want to learn more about! Either comment below or reach out to us via email, and we will get in touch with you soon.