I’d like to present to you TOP 6 Ghost Towns in Europe. This entry was partially inspired by the recent bankruptcy of one of the biggest US cities – Detroit. Much like Detroit, European Ghost Towns were once full of life. And then something happened that lead to people fleeing from out there. Like an economical crisis, or a natural disaster, or war… So now those places are abandoned and everything people build over the years is just standing there and decaying. The best, most famous example of a Ghost Town in Europe is Pompeii, where the volcano eruption killed the whole village and basically stopped time there or centuries. And here are a couple of other deserted places you have to see.
Agdam was a city with population of 40.000 people that was destroyed and abandoned during Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1993. After that, it was also looted for building materials and devastated even more. Nowadays, there are only a couple of buildings, that are in more or less stable state. One of them is Aghdam Mosque. In 2010 a complaint was filed to the roman pope, Benedict XVI. After that local authorities cleaned up the surroundings and renovated the mosque, so that it will be standing there abandoned for at least a couple of decades to come.
Some of the locations get abandoned, because there’s simply nothing else to do. Like the Russian Pyramiden. The location used to be Swedish until 1927, when it was sold to USSR, because of the coal seams. And after they have been exploited, Pyramiden was abandoned and there was not a living soul out there for about 10 years. In 2007 the company owning old mines started restoring the Tulip hotel, which opened this year. Now anybody is able to book a room and take a tour of the industrial Ghost City of Pyramiden.
SOLANA VALLEY, ITALY
There are a couple of Ghost Towns in Solana Valley. They were all small villages, where people used to live in a very traditional way, earning their living by agricultural practices like goat and sheep rearing. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the valley has been abandoned. The main reason for that was the influence of an organization focused on restoring forests areas in Italy. But there were other factors as well, one of them being a change in lifestyle that lead to young people moving to bigger, more attractive locations with more interesting life. If you visit the Solana Valley, you will be able to see a couple of village churches as well as even smaller places of cult and house ruins.
VILLAGES OF FAROE ISLANDS
It is pretty easy to loose all the population, if there weren’t many citizens to begin with. Situation like that happened with some of the villages in Faroe Islands. Places like Múli or Slættanes in the northern islands were one of the last places in the country to have access to electricity and the last ones to get connected to the other islands via roads. But apparently those improvements wasn’t reason enough to stay. There is also one island, Skarð, that was abandoned after all 7 men living there, went fishing on the only village boat and perished. One by one, their families decided to move out of the village. Sometimes, the abandoned properties are being used during summer as summer houses, so technically it is possible to rent some of them. Should you ever have the need to get away from civilisation, maybe you could try going there?
CIUDAD VALDELUZ, SPAIN
Ciudad Valdeluz, is a little different from all the other places, because it was never inhabited. Located close to Madrid, this place was supposed to be a 30.000 people town with almost 9.500 houses. The local authorities started building it according to previously scheduled plan, but then the crisis in Spain began. This is why instead of a new, young city, this place became a Ghost Town. As of 2012, there were less than 2.000 citizens officially living in Ciudad Valdeluz.
How could I not mention the most widely known Ghost Town in Europe? Ukrainian Pripyat, was abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986. According to the newest research, it is now relatively safe to visit this city. There are even a couple of companies, that specialize in organizing regular tours to Pripyat for those, who would like to feel like in a science fiction story (the explosion in Chernobyl was an inspiration to a lot of science fiction writers, filmmakers and gaming companies). So you can see the abandoned blocks from socialism time, empty schools and shops, as well as a Pripyat landmark – the immobilized Ferris Wheel.
Ghost Towns were once full of life. They were the places that were supposed to last for hundreds of years, but they are now deteriorating slowly. Seeing some of them for your own may be a memorable experience, that can make you realize, that the forces of nature, or a cruel force of economy can crush all sorts of plans. But on the other hand, there is also hope, because everything, that mankind build in those places is stable enough to last for a couple of hundreds of years. And that is pretty impressive.
And since we’re talking about ghosts, you may want to have a look at some of the most haunted hotels in the US. However, if you feel like you don’t have time for that, you should definitely read Peter’s entry about all the reasons why you deserve a vacation time. Trust me, it’s for your own good.