In these past couple of years, there has been a trend of post-apocalyptic media. From TV shows and movies such as Life After People and The Road, to video games such as Fallout and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, the post-apocalyptic genre is very popular in today’s culture. Fortunately the earth hasn’t experienced such a doomsday scenario as portrayed in fictional mediums. However, there are places in the world where people have abandoned entire cities, eerily similar to a post-apocalyptical wasteland. Abandoned towns, villages, and cities have occurred throughout human civilization due to a number of factures: Natural disasters, man-made disasters, mining contaminants, military conflict, disease, economic decline, and lack of resources to name a few. Many of these places have become tourist destinations. Out of the hundreds of abandoned cities/towns/villages, here are just a few I personally find interesting:
oradour-sur-glane entrance.image by Dennis Nilsson

Oradour-sur-Glane: On June 10th 1944, the entire French village of Oradour-sur-Glane (pop. 642) was massacred by the Nazi SS. The women and children were rounded up in the town’s church and were burned alive while the men were lead to the barns, shot in the legs, and were led to the same fate as their families. The village is now a memorial.
image from wikipedia

Belchite: This town in Spain was the casualty of the Spanish Civil War. General Franco personally kept the town in ruins as a memorial for the war.

Varosha, Famagusta: Varosha was the southern part of the city Famagusta in Cyprus. It was a popular tourist destination until the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Since then the population of Varosha has fled and only the Turkish military and United Nations personnel are allowed inside the city.

Ağdam: In the country of Azerbaijan, the town of Ağdam fell to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic in 1993. Ever since, it has been a ghost town.

Deception Island: This island off the coast of Antarctica was once home to whalers and scientists stationed there. However many of the bases are abandoned due to frequent volcanic eruptions. Now it is a popular tourist spot due to its population of chinstrap penguins and hot volcanic baths.

Wittenoom: Once a prosperous mining town for blue asbestos in Western Australia, Wittenoom was abandoned when the dangers of asbestos was known. 85 people have died from mesothelioma by 1986 and it is estimated that by 2020 700 cases will be known (Reference: A.W. Musk; N.H. de Klerk; J.L. Eccles; M.S.T. Hobbs (1993). “Mesothelioma: the Wittenoom experience”) It is known as the worst industrial disaster in Australian history.

Centralia, PA: Located in the state of Pennsylvania, Centralia was a small coal mining town. Since 1962 however, a coal mine fire beneath the town has been burning and has forced residents to leave their homes due to the levels carbon monoxide and poor air quality. Centralia was the inspiration of the fictional town in the 2006 film, Silent Hill.

Hashima (Gunkanjima): Translated as Battleship Island in English, Hashima is an island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. It was used from 1887 to 1974 as a coal mining facility, housing around 5000 workers at its peak in the 60’s. Eventually the coal mining industry in Japan declined and Hashima was abandoned.

Prypiat & Chernobyl: Prypiat, located in Northern Ukraine was originally built to house workers that were employed at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. At its height, the city was home to 50,000 people. The older city of Chernobyl lay nearby. On April 26, 1986 the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant experienced a power surge and caused multiple explosions that sent radioactive material to rain down, exposing thousands of people in nearby cities to nuclear radiation. Due the amount of radioactivity, both Chernobyl and Prypiat were evacuated and abandoned; however a few people came back to Chernobyl and chose to stay despite the risk. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear disaster in recorded history.