The 10 Largest Abandoned Cities in The World

Some of the largest abandoned cities in the world used to be full of life. Many of them had thousands of residents, shops, schools, churches, houses, or flats.

The economic downturn, natural catastrophes, or nuclear accidents are the main reasons for these cities to be abandoned. In history, some cities have also been abandoned due to military threats.

If you think these cities or their ruins can’t be seen today, you need to check this list.

1. Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat is perhaps the most famous abandoned city in the world. It was open for residents of the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in 1970.

In 1986, the famous Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion meant that all people had to leave the town in a rush. It was the biggest nuclear catastrophe in the history of Ukraine and the recent history of Europe.

The town can be visited today with guides, but it is also largely overgrown with vegetation.

All of these ghost towns remind us that nature is often undervalued in its force and how it impacts our lives. They also show us just how much harm military conflict between groups of people can do to local communities.

Almost all ghost towns around the world today are open history book pages that we can use to learn from and not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

2. Cody, Canada

It seems the small town of Cody was one that was never meant to survive. Located in British Columbia, it sits in a valley of towns that all look abandoned, even if they are inhabited as the nearby Sandon town.

But the end of natural resources exploitation in Canada has created hundreds of these ghost towns across the country.

3. Varosha, Cyprus

Varosha is yet another abandoned city due to the Turkish invasion. Found on excellent sandy beaches in Cyprus, this used to be a top holiday destination up to 1975.

Turkish aggression eventually turned its residents away and most of its touristic buildings such as hotels become abandoned.

You can barely make your way around these buildings today as many have been raided and the streets are overgrown with nature claiming back its territory.

4. Craco, Italy

The historic city of Craco in Southern Italy still looks very impressive. It was fully abandoned due to multiple natural disasters in the area but it still attracts plenty of curious explorers.

It also appeared in multiple movies. This city impresses with its overall architecture since it sits high on a mountain peak.

This original plan used to think its residents are going to be safe from invaders. But it was nature that eventually drove people out.

5. Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop is yet another city that perished quickly with the end of natural resources to exploit. It was originally build to offer a roof over the head of those mining for diamonds.

But the city quickly started to become a ghost town as diamonds become rarer in the area. Today, it sits in the dunes of Nabia abandoned.

A couple of its buildings are still maintained by a local tour operator which takes tourists to this town to offer a better glimpse of what diamond mining used to look like in the country.

6. Kayaköy, Turkey

You’d normally think that abandoned cities all look eerie. Most of them can look a bit rough but Kayaköy still looks beautiful. This Greek city is found in South-West Turkey.

Greeks fled the city during the Turkish-Greek war and they left an architectural heritage that is almost unlike anywhere else. All homes here look the same as does the main church.

It’s a clear sight that the municipality had a clear architectural plan. Now empty for almost 100 years, this city is also easy to visit. You can simply drive there and explore its ruins on your own.

7. Kadykchan, Russia

The far East of Russia is known for its harsh Siberian weather. This is where those sent into gulags often died. Forced labor and a high number of deported people were all that this land could see for years.

The small city of Kadykchan was made by these prisoners suffering under the Soviet gulag. They were mostly working in coal extraction to fuel the state’s need for energy.

Later on, it got completely abandoned with the fall of the Soviet Union and with the drastic devaluation of coal.

8. Tianducheng, China

Image: Wikimedia / MNXANL

Tianducheng is a strange sad city in China. It has been completely made to resemble Paris. It even has its own Eifel Tower. Some of the buildings here resemble those in the French capital.

The investor or the company behind this city planned to sell thousands of homes here. But only a small number of people bought a house here.

This makes the city look like an abandoned Paris. What’s even sadder is that these cities are found in vast numbers across China. You can visit the place yourself as it’s not far from Hangzhou.

9. Bodie, USA

There used to be a time when the California gold rush was drawing in people from all over North America. This was the case with Bodie, a town of at least 7.000 people back in 1880.

It developed quickly but it also died quickly. By 1915, the town was already empty. All of its residents are now gone. However, the town is still on the map as it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists today.

You can visit it yourself if you’re in California as the town is under a preservation committee which means it will remain untouched for years and years.

10. Hashima, Japan

The abandoned Hashima Island in Japan is very well known for its appearance in blockbuster movies. But many don’t know this movie set exists.

It used to have a strategic military role but being largely abandoned after WWII, it is now a collection of concrete ruined buildings. The place can be visited by booking a tour with local guides.