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    17 Abandoned Mediterranean Places

    Buildings transformed by time and sunshine.

    What could be better than visiting a grand chateau or hilltop villa? Visiting one that's pitted with decay, that's what. Time may ravage grand buildings, but in the process it conjures a different kind of beauty – one that pokes through the cracks and glints between the fractured shards of stained glass. Abandon a place for a few decades and wondrous things start to happen...

    1. Castello di Sammezzano, Italy

    Simone Baldini / Via Flickr: simbald

    Why would anyone abandon a building this gorgeous? For 400 years, this Moorish castle stood proudly in the Tuscan hills. Then, it was inexplicably allowed to go to seed. Following decades of neglect, plans have finally been lodged to turn Castello di Sammezzano into a luxury sports resort. If you want to glimpse the castle in all its untamed, uncivilised glory, you'll need to be quick.

    Matt-of-Florence / Via Flickr: matt-o

    2. Varosha, Cyprus

    Federica Gentile / Via Flickr: fede_gen88

    Europe's most famous abandoned town after Pripyat, Varosha has been gathering weeds since the 70s. When major beef kicked off between the Greeks and Turks, the resort found itself caught in the crossfire. In its heyday, starlets such as Elizabeth Taylor sunned themselves on Varosha's ocean-facing verandas. Today, intrepid visitors can experience the celebrity treatment by taking their pick from whichever crumbling balcony takes their fancy.

    Danielzolli / Via Flickr: danielzolli

    3. Château Lumiere, France

    Proj3ct M4yh3m / Via Flickr: proj3ctm4yh3m

    Back in the day, everyone smoked and everyone facilitating the trade got stinking rich on the filthy fumes of the masses. This Neo-Baroque chateau, built by the son of a tobacco tycoon, has lain abandoned since the 1950s, its hardwood floors trodden only by rodents and the occasional interloper.

    Proj3ct M4yh3m / Via Flickr: proj3ctm4yh3m

    4. Canfranc, French/Spanish border

    Laurent Jégou / Via Flickr: laurent_jegou

    Canfranc International Railway Station was used by the Nazis during the war before crumbling almost as swiftly as the regime that had commandeered it. Today, the tunnels that run beneath the station have been reborn as an astroparticle laboratory where scientists are mastering the mysteries of dark matter.

    Juanedc / Via Flickr: juanedc

    5. Château Du Cavalier, France

    Via proj3ctm4yh3m.com

    Not much is known about this French chateau; even its name is unconfirmed. Never mind: just look at it. Go on – look. It's a decrepit, ramshackle, unloved thing of beauty.

    Proj3ct M4yh3m / Via Flickr: proj3ctm4yh3m

    6. Kayakoy, Turkey

    Maggie Stephens / Via Flickr: maggiew

    Why content yourself with an abandoned building when you can explore an entire town? Kayakoy thrived for centuries until the Greco-Turkish conflict of the 1920s heralded a mass exodus. 20th century conflict coupled with an earthquake have killed Kayakoy as a going concern, but the ghostly town now serves as an eery tourist magnet.

    Simon Patrick / Via Flickr: woflgang_prien

    7. Sanatorium Forêt, France

    Via proj3ctm4yh3m.com

    Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and styles. The pulchritude that clings to this abandoned hospital can best be described as ethereal. It sure didn't look this enchanting in its prime.

    8. Villa De Vecchi, Italy

    Jeff Kerwin / Via Flickr: triptorome2006

    High above Lake Como lies a rotting villa festooned with cobwebs and ghoulish tales. You don't have to believe the rumours of slain aristocrats, infanticide and satanism to find this abandoned abode immeasurably creepy.

    9. Villa Pusterla-Crivelli, Italy

    Matteo Paciotti / Via Flickr: matte4president

    The most famous resident to have graced this 18th century villa is reputed to have been Napoleon. History is a murky business; less in doubt is the building's transformation into an asylum in the 1960s. On a full moon, its 3,000 residents must have kicked up quite a hullabaloo.

    Elena Gatti / Via Flickr: madely87

    10. Asinara Prison, Italy

    test3r / Via Flickr: test3r

    The island of Asinara has served as everything from a quarantine camp to a wildlife sanctuary. Its most notorious residents arrived in the 1970s however, when a maximum security prison was built to house terrorists and mafioso. Today, visitors can pick through the ruins before posing for the obligatory 'in jail' photo.

    ezioman / Via Flickr: ezioman

    11. Deep Valley of the Mills, Italy

    sneakerdog / Via flic.kr

    Built in the 1900s, this mill was supposedly abandoned due to increasing humidity, which must have played havoc with the finely milled flour of which Italians are so fond. Today, the mill's only crop of note is ivy; it looks the part but makes a rubbish ciabatta.

    12. OGR Factory, Italy

    torephoto / Via Flickr: torephoto

    This Turin factory may lie abandoned, but it still resonates to industrial noise: over the years, it's been known to host the odd illegal rave.

    13. White Rocks, Malta

    Jenny / Via Flickr: to_die_for

    These 1960s military quarters, later converted into holiday apartments, have gotten immeasurably prettier ever since graffiti artists went to work on the abandoned complex.

    scottnoskills / Via Flickr: scottnoskills

    14. Vathia, Greece

    jacme31 / Via Flickr: jacme31

    This hillside town is famed for its stone towers that doggedly refuse to be toppled. Known as pyrgoi, these ruined fortresses overlook fields of wild flowers in springtime.

    15. Consonno, Italy

    Stardumb / Via Flickr: stardumb

    In the 1960s, an eccentric entrepreneur (is there any other type?) bought this decaying Alpine village with the intention of turning it into the Italian Las Vegas. Spoiler: the plan didn't work. Construction ground to a halt within three years and the so-called City of Toys has since become a playground for ravers and graffiti artists. Still a classier place than Vegas, admittedly.

    Alberto D'Avola / Via Flickr: recipeforpancakes

    16. Gavros, Greece

    Karolos Trivizas / Via Flickr: karolos-trivizas

    These clay houses near Prespa Lake are slowly yielding to the elements. Every time the heavens open, a few more adobe bricks succumb; one day they'll give up the ghost entirely and crumble to rubble and dust.

    17. Abandoned House, Turkey

    Yonca Evren / Via Flickr: 56201138@N03

    Little is known about this abandoned house in Sapanca, Turkey. That's OK though: your imagination can fill in the blanks. Something something...stormy night...dark shadows...things that go bump...what the f––...run like hell. RUN!

    Written by Kai Sedgwick, a travel writer for HomeAway.co.uk.

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