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    14 Ghost Towns And Cities Around The World You Can Visit

    Places filled with history, if not residents.

    1. Kolmanskop, Namibia

    Fabian Plock / Getty Images, Znm / Getty Images

    A German colonial town located in the Namib Desert, Kolmanskop became prosperous in the early 20th century due to the presence of an active diamond mining industry. However, heavy mining, as well as the discovery of diamonds in another part of Namibia, led the town to be abandoned by the middle of the century. Now, tourists are able to visit the sand-swept ruins, with tens of thousands arriving each year.

    2. Pyramiden, Svalbard

    Dominique Faget / AFP / Getty Images

    Svalbard, an island in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, is today overseen by Norway — but has also been home to numerous Russian mining settlements, including Pyramiden. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early '90s, as well as a deadly plane crash in the area that occurred in 1996, drove residents out of the town, leaving it ultimately abandoned. Recently, there has been an uptick in interest in the town, and there's even a hotel there for adventurous visitors who want to stay the night.

    3. Hashima Island, Japan

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    Also known as Battleship Island, this patch of land off Japan's southern coast was originally developed by Mitsubishi. In the early 20th century, it became a site of forced labor for many Koreans during a period when Japan claimed control over the Korean peninsula (lasting through the end of WWII). The island was not abandoned until the 1970s, when the undersea coal mine driving the island's labor force was closed. You can now take a boat from the nearby city of Nagasaki to visit for a guided tour.

    4. Garnet, Montana

    Bob Wick, BLM / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: mypubliclands, Chad_talton / Getty Images

    The late 19th century saw about 1,000 living in this Montana town, hoping to strike gold. When the gold ran out in the early 20th century, though, Garnet was abandoned. Today, the town is preserved and run by the US Bureau of Land Management, and offers a peek into what life was like during the town's heyday.

    5. Pripyat, Ukraine

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    One of the most well-known ghost cities in the world, Pripyat was abandoned in the mid-80s after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, with tens of thousands of residents forced to leave the area because of the dangers posed by radiation. Though the area is still considered too unsafe for permanent residency, the city has seen an influx of tourism recently, especially with the popularity of the miniseries Chernobyl.

    6. Craco, Italy

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    Located in southern Italy, the city of Craco was originally established by the eighth century and managed to last for more than a millennium before it was abandoned in the middle of the 20th century. Situated on a hillside, the city experienced issues with landslides that eventually made the buildings too unsafe for habitation. The area still hosts religious festivals each year, though, and can be visited as part of a guided tour.

    7. Whaler's Bay, Deception Island

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    Formerly used for — believe it or not — whaling, the town of Whaler's Bay is situated on a volcano in the middle of the Antarctic. Eruptions in the 1960s put an end to whaling in town, although the island itself is still home to scientific research stations. If you're willing to brave the boat journey to get there, you can indulge in the area's natural hot springs.

    8. Humberstone and Santa Laura, Chile

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    Together, the towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura played a large role in the saltpeter mining industry in northern Chile from the 1870s until midway through the 20th century. Once synthetic nitrates were developed in the 1930s, though, saltpeter became much less valuable, and the towns lasted only another few decades before being abandoned. Now, the towns are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and allow tourists to stroll around and learn about the region's history at their museum.

    9. Chinguetti, Mauritania

    Homocosmicos / Getty Images

    An old trading city in the western Sahara desert, Chinguetti is one of a group of UNESCO-listed cities in the region founded in the 11th and 12th centuries. Although parts of the city have been overtaken by the desert sand, there are preservation efforts ongoing in accordance with its world heritage status. And while some areas of the ancient city are abandoned, there are more newly developed areas with residents and places for visitors to stay.

    10. Bodie, California

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    Formerly home to nearly 10,000 people hoping to strike it rich through gold mining, the town of Bodie is now a California State Historic Park. Although its population peaked around 1880, the town was abandoned by the middle of the 20th century. Tourists can visit a museum about the town's history and go on walking tours — including a ghost tour, if you're into that sort of thing.

    11. Grytviken, South Georgia Island

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    Formerly home to a whaling station, Grytviken is located on South Georgia Island in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean. The town is perhaps best known as the site of explorer Ernest Shackleton's grave, Shackleton having died on the island in the 1920s. The town currently hosts a museum as well as a functioning church, with up to 30 scientists and other officials living there at any given time.

    12. Oradour-sur-Glane, France

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    After the Nazis committed a massacre against the almost 650 residents of the town of Oradour-sur-Glane during the Second World War, the town was intentionally left in ruins as a memorial to the atrocity that occurred there. Today, visitors can wander through the town's main street and visit a museum to learn more about the events that took place there.

    13. Belchite, Spain

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    Destroyed during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, the town of Belchite now exists in two parts. There's the old town, full of ruins from that time period and open for visitors as part of guided tours, and the new town, situated nearby. Despite originally being held by Republican forces during the war, the town, like the rest of Spain, eventually fell to Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Franco opted to leave the rubble from the battles as a reminder of the war, preserving what is now the ghost town of Belchite even as the new town sprang up nearby.

    14. St. Elmo, Colorado

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    A mining town from the 1880s, St. Elmo went mostly bust within half a century due to fires and the closing of a railroad line that had serviced the town. By the 1950s, the town had been completely abandoned. Many original buildings remain, though, and the St. Elmo Historic District is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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