These stunningly beautiful places around the world may be abandoned, but they’re well-worth travel for, with history oozing from every nook and cranny.
Miranda Castle, Celles, Belgium (Nearby Hotels)
While this magnificent structure, also known as Chateau de Noisy, is a shell of its former self, it remains hauntingly spectacular. Originally built by French aristocrats fleeing the guillotine, it was abandoned in 1991, now attracting ghost hunters and thrill-seeking teenagers. The Liedekerke-Beaufort family commissioned the castle to be built in 1866 after feeling their previous home, Vêves Castle, during the French Revolution. Their descendants remained in occupation until the Second World War. During that time, German troops descended on the ground during the Battle of the Bulge, and following the war, the National Railway Company of Belgium began using it as an orphanage, where it as such up until 1980, before eventually being abandoned in 1991 due to the high costs of maintaining it. The Liedekerke-Beaufort family stripped the castle of all its valuables and simply left it to rot. Although the municipality of Celles has offered to take it over, the family refused, and it eventually fell into its derelict state, though it’s still a popular attraction for urban explorers.
Kolmanskop, Namibia (Nearby Hotels)
Kolmanskop is Namibia’s most famous ghost town. While it lies abandoned today, it was booming in the early 1900s when Germans discovered the area was rich with diamonds. In 1908, a railway worker found a sparkling stone among the sand that he was shoveling away from the railway line near Kolmanskop. His boss was convinced it was a diamond, and when that was confirmed, the news spread like wildfire, sparking a massive rush to grab the treasure, and causing fortune hunters to arrive in drove. Elegant houses were constructed for the many new residents, and it soon resembled a German town, complete with an impressive array of amenities. It included a hospital, ballroom, school, skittle alley, theater, sports hall, casino, power station, ice factory and the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere. But when even richer diamond deposits were found further south, and operations were moved, within just four decades, the town was dead. Today its crumbling ruins make it hard to fathom just how spectacular Kolmanskop was, but by taking a tour you’ll get a fascinating glimpse of its history as well as the diamond industry.
Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland (Nearby Hote)
Built in the mid-13th century as a fortified castle for Alexander II to fend off Viking attacks, since then, Eilean Donan, one of Scotland’s most iconic images, has been built and rebuilt as the feudal history of the country unfolded through the centuries. Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, it lay in ruins for nearly 200 years until it was purchased by Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap in 1911, who restored it to its former glory. Set along the main route to the Isle of Skye in the western highlands, it’s strategically located on a tiny island where three sea lochs meet, connected to the mainland by a footbridge and surrounded by forested mountains, open to the public where nearly every corner of it can be explored.
Hotel del Salto, San Antonio del Tequendama, Colombia (Nearby Hotels)
As one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Bogota, the luxurious Hotel del Salto was first built in 1923 as a residential mansion for well-to-do architect Carlos Arturo Tapias. It boasts fantastic French-style architecture , constructed as a symbol of the joy and elegance of the elite wealth of the era. The hotel closed for good in the early 1990s and was initially abandoned due to declining interest in the nearby falls. But magnificent structures like these that are forgotten and left to the elements allowing nature to reclaim them also create one of the most awe-inspiring scenes on Earth. In 2011, the Ecological Farm Foundation of Porvenir and the National University of Colombia’s Institute of Natural Sciences began a joint restoration effort of the hotel’s intricate architecture, with a mission to convert the Hotel Del Salto into a museum that would serve as a national symbol of cultural heritage and environmental restoration. Renamed “Tequendama Falls Museum of Biodiversity and Culture,“ in 2013, it reopened as a museum with its first exhibit: “Caverns, ecosystems of the subterranean world.”
Plymouth, Montserrat (Nearby Hotels)
Montserrat is known as the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle due to its Irish heritage and lush rainforests, but the island is also somewhat of a modern day Pompeii, with its former capital of Plymouth devastated and abandoned by massive volcanic eruptions. It was once home to some 12,000 inhabitants, before the once-dormant volcano spewed up to 20 feet of ash over the capital in 1995, forcing two-thirds of the residents to flee. No one was injured and a few residents returned to their homes on the island, but another eruption in 1997 killed 19 people. Today, with 5,000 residents, Montserrat feels as if it’s on the brink of an upswing. Half of the island is abandoned and some of the buildings are still partially buried, it is an eerily fascinating scene – here you can smell the sulfur in the air and it’s nearly impossible not to be awed, yet saddened by the sight of the abandoned city buried under 20 feet of ash and earth. The other side of the island remains lush and green, offering everything a traveler could ever want in a Caribbean vacation at an affordable price.
Buzludzha Communist Monument, Bulgaria (Nearby Hotels)
Sitting atop an over 4700-foot peak in the wild, mountainous scenery of central Bulgaria, a saucer-shaped structure stands like a watchtower. This concrete building on Buzludzha Mountain is a relic of the communist era, sometimes referred to as “Bulgaria’s UFO,” and it attracts countless visitors every year. Originally built as a socialist assembly hall, the UFO-like behemoth has been abandoned for decades, but gazing up at it, it’s easy to see why it represents a paralyzing dilemma for Bulgarians. Like much of the Balkans, Bulgaria fell under communist rule for many years following the Second World War, until the ousting of Todor Zhivkov in 1989. While it may be one of the most famous ruins in the world, as a symbol, it is much more than just a building, and its demise carries a deeper significance than can rightly be understood by multitudes who visit the monument from week to week.
Casino Constanta, Romania (Nearby Hotels)
Once thought of as Romania’s very own Monte Carlo, abandoned remains are all that’s left of the Grand Casino Constanta. First commissioned by King Carol I, the casino was originally built between 1904 and 1910 by a Romanian architect called Petre Antonescu. Perched on a cliffside overlooking the Black Sea, the impressive structure’s art-deco details are still intact despite having been shuttered decades ago. It was once a place where wealthy travelers and the elite flocked from across Europe to play and dance the night away, but its fortune changed in the face of two world wars, which saw the majestic structure fall into disrepair. During the Second World War, it was used as a hospital, and under the post-war Communist regime, it operated as a restaurant. By 1990, it had become so run down that it was too expensive to maintain, and it’s been closed ever since.
Kayakoy, Turkey (Nearby Hotels)
Caught on the wrong side of a shifting border disputed by Turkey and Greece, the residents of this town were all evicted against their wishes in an act of ethnic cleansing. Kayakoy was once a village in southern Turkey inhabited mostly by Greek-speaking Christians, but during the Greco-Turkish War, its population slowly left, and ultimately, it was left totally abandoned after a population exchange agreement was signed between Turkish and Greek governments. Today it’s classified as a World Friendship and Peace Village and remains a tourist destination as a museum and historical monument.
Loftus Hall, Ireland (Nearby Hotels)
Known as one of the most haunted places in all of Ireland, Loftus Hall is a rather ominous looking mansion that serves as a unique tourist attraction in County Wexford. From the moment you drive up to its gates and down the long driveway to where it sits on a section of rather desolate landscape, you’re likely to sense something strange has happened here. The Redmond family built a beautiful castle as their new home here on the Hook Peninsula in 1351. Three hundred years later, the Redmond family was subjected to the horrors of Cromwell and his army, and their magnificent home the target of cannons. The castle was lost, along with their land when it was eventually conquered by Cromwell’s army, and it became home to the Loftus Family. The most famous ghost story is that back in 1765, a mysterious man called upon the daughter of the house and asked to play a game of cards with her – at one point, she dropped one of her cards and discovered that her guest had a cloven hoof. Now, many people who visit, believe it is frequented by the devil himself and also haunted by the ghost of Anne Tottenham, the woman who played cards who went insane after her experience, refusing to eat or drink, and died not long after her encounter.
Visitors can take a tour – and by bringing ghost hunting gear may even catch a glimpse of the paranormal action.