What exactly is it about abandoned places that attracts our attention in such a mystifying way?
Is it their storied pasts? Their eerie aesthetics? The way they allow us to effortlessly engage our imaginations as we wonder about what they might have been like in their prime?
“Certainly, there's an aesthetic component to decaying buildings, an opportunity to enjoy these buildings outside of their original context and stumble upon unusual images that don't present themselves in intact structures,” wrote i09 blogger Lauren Davis.
But, as Davis goes on to point out, this isn’t the only reason so many people are fascinated by parks, hospitals, castles and entire towns that have been utterly abandoned and long untouched.
Slideshow: Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Places Around the World
Some who seek to explore, photograph or even just observe abandoned places are interested in learning about and preserving history, while others are simply interested in the out-of-the-ordinary things you’d likely never find elsewhere.
“[T]he real amusement comes from the ridiculous things I constantly stumble upon,” 2e, a photographer who posts his photos of decaying New York on gotham ruins, told Davis. “A manmade space over time with very little manmade disruption brings about things you'd never expect; trees growing out of piles of documents, books being repurposed as beehives, newspapers from the 30's, that kind of stuff. Then you step out of this building and you're back in the real world—a bustling block in Williamsburg or steps from City Hall, iPhones and all. Much of the appeal is the time machine I guess.”
Whether you’re intrigued by the unusual or love a deserted building that has its own great ghost story, we’re sure you’ll feel enchanted and maybe even spooked by these hauntingly beautiful abandoned places from around the world.
1. Pripyat — Ukraine
Flickr/thedakotakid CC by SA 2.0
The Ukraine city of Pripyat was home to 49,000 residents until it was evacuated and abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Although the area remains abandoned, it’s been deemed safe to visit and some outfitters there offer guided tours of the site.
2. Lake Shawnee Amusement Park — Mercer County, W. Va.
Courtesy of Visit Southern West Virginia
According to the New York Daily News, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park in southern West Virginia was abandoned in 1996 after two young guests died accidentally. Though many of the old, creaky rides still stand, what was once a lively play place is now a decrepit plot of and that many say is haunted. Those who’ve dared to explore the deserted site say they’ve seen the ghost of a little girl.
3. Kings Park Psychiatric Center — Kings Park, N.Y.
"KingsParkPC-Building 93" by brianwasser, CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikipedia
This eerie, aging asylum dates back all the way to the late 1800s when it was created to serve as a treatment center for New York’s mentally ill. Long Island locals simply refer to it as the “Psych Center,” and while the large plot of land was declared a state park after the institution was shut down in 1996, the site more closely resembles the setting of a horror movie rather than a refuge for outdoor recreation.
4. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum — Weston, W. Va.
Courtesy of Wild, Wonderful West Virginia
This long-abandoned Civil War-era mental institution was left to deteriorate when it was forced to close in 1994. The brave souls who have visited since report that the building is now haunted and the current owners offer ghost tours year round. Plus, in October guests are invited to the asylum for seasonal festivities such as the Asylum Ball and Zombie Paint Ball.
5. Château Miranda — Celles, Belgium
"Castle Miranda, Back Side" by Pel Laurens - Forgotten Beauty, CC BY 3.0 via Commons