8 Incredible European Ghost Towns
By definition, a ghost town is an abandoned town or city. Some cities become ghost towns because the economic activity that supported them has failed; others are abandoned after natural or human-caused disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or war. While ghost towns can be found all over the world, some of them have become famous. This is due either to being very well preserved or to the reasons which lead to their abandonment. Bootsnall put together a list of some of the most famous and interesting European sites which are definitely worth your visit.
On April 26, 1986 reactor number 4 exploded releasing about nine tons of radioactive material into the environment, contaminating parts of Ukraine, Poland, Russia and Belarus. Nearly 50 people died that day but countless others have been affected by the radiation. Just 3 km from the reactor, there’s Pripyat, a town which was entirely evacuated after the incident.
During the Second World War many people had to give up their homes, usually to the enemies. But in this case, the British Army took over the of Imber, Wiltshire, UK. They didn’t destroy anything, as the army needed this town to practice fighting in built-up areas prior to the D-Day Landings. After the war ended, the army decided not to leave the city so the first city settled by the ancient Britons became a ghost town.
Pompeii is located in Campania, not far from Naples. It’s probably the most famous ghost town in Europe. The Roman city with the same name was engulfed by Mt. Vesuvius in 79AD which erupted, killing 20,000 people. The volcanic ash preserved the city as it was in at fateful day, and today, the excavation site along with the outdoor museum is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pyramiden is an abandoned Russian settlement and coal mining community on the archipelago of Svaldbard, Norway. The city was founded by Sweden but later sold to Russia. In 1998 it was abandoned by the Russians. Russia wants to reopen the city, but this time for tourism purposes only so the buildings are currently being upgraded.
Balestrino is a very curious case of ghost town particularly because it’s hard to find information about the city. Records date back to the 11th century when the city was owned by the Benedictine abbey of San Pietro dei Monti. In late 19th century the area was struck by a series of earthquakes, although it’s not sure how they affected the city. Records show repairs being done in the city at about the same time. Finally, in 1953 the town was abandoned. About 400 inhabitants left moved to a safer area (to the west) where the city still exists.
See more eerie European ghost towns on Bootsnall.