There is nothing more mind fucking than travelling to a land where no one lives. Imagine walking the streets with no one else in sight but for those who are also into eclectic kind of vacations, going to abandoned cities would be on top of the list. Imagine the stories you can make up about what transpired in these cities and the history you can learn.
Here are ten cities you should visit. Uh, bring lots of friends, there’s no one else there.
10. Disaster City Beichuan
The Beichuan county was flattened by the 7.8-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province on May 12 two years ago.
The place became China’s version of Ground Zero with more than 80 percent of the county’s buildings, including the worst-hit Beichuan High School, collapsed, leaving more than 20,000 people homeless. The Chinese Government has invested 615 billion yuan in the reconstruction of Beichuan and other quake-hit cities, counties and towns such as Wenchuan, Deyang, Guangyuan, Aba prefecture and the city of Chengdu. But Beichuan is the only place that has been relocated and rebuilt in another area.
9. Village Italy
In the late nineteenth century, the North-West coast of Italy was struck by numerous earhquakes. One of these in 1887 (magnitude 6.7) destroyed some villages in the area of Savona, and although no official records show Balestrino was affected it coincides with much repair work and a dip in population. Finally in 1953 the town was abandoned due to ‘geological instablility’, and the remaining inhabitants (around 400) were moved to safer ground to the west. The derelict part of Balestrino that has stood untouched and inaccessible for fifty plus years is currently undergoing planning for redevelopment. Today around 500 people remain in the town’s newer area which is a good kilometer down the road.
8. Walled Town Craco
Craco is located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera. About 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Taranto at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. This medieval town is typical of those in the area, built up with long undulating hills all around that allow for the farming of wheat and other crops. Craco can be dated back to 1060 when the land was in the ownership of Archbishop Arnaldo, Bishop of Tricarico. This long-standing relationshop with the Church had much influence over the inhabitants throughout the ages.
In 1891, the population of Craco stood at well over 2,000 people. Between 1892 and 1922 over 1,300 people moved from the town to North America. Poor farming was added to by earthquakes, landslides, and War – all of which contributed to this mass migration. Between 1959 and 1972 Craco was plagued by these landslides and quakes. In 1963 the remaining 1,800 inhabitants were transferred to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera, and the original Craco remains in a state of crumbling decay to this day.
7. Wild West Ghost Town Bodie
Founded in 1876, Bodie is the authentic American ghost town. It started life as a small mining settlement, though found even more fortune from nearby mines that attracted thousands. By 1880 Bodie boasted a population of almost 10,000 – such was the boom. At its peak, 65 saloons lined the town’s main street, and there was even a Chinatown with several hundred Chinese residents.
Dwindling resources proved fatal however, and although greatly reduced in prominence, Bodie held a permanent residency through most of the 20th century. Even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932. Bodie is now unpopulated. The town was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961, and in 1962 it became Bodie State Historic Park as the few residents left moved on.
Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay. Only a small part of the town survives. Visitors can walk the deserted streets of a town and interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods. Bodie is open all year, but the long road that leads to it is usually closed in the winter due to heavy snowfall, so the most comfortable time to visit is during the summer months.
6. Ghost City Humberstone
Humberstone, Chile was a booming town from the 1920s until the early ‘40s, enjoying the wealth and prosperity that came from mining and processing nitrate, also known as saltpeter. Once synthetic saltpeter was invented, the town began to decline and experienced a slow outpouring of residents until it finally lay empty in 1961. Since then, the blowing sand from surrounding deserts has made its way into the remaining buildings, which still house machinery and furniture. The town has been named a World Heritage Site and will likely be preserved as a historical monument.
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