Eleven ghost towns route
There are cities that one day dreamed of being eternal and today are only ruins. Others remain almost buried in oblivion, desert, jungle or water. Some even died before birth. All contain fascinating stories to revive the travelers visit them.
We talked about lost cities, as the Roman Leptis Magna, in the desert of Libya, or the futuristic Shanzhi in Taiwan . From the legendary and heroic Masada in Israel, until the ghostly Hashimi island in the Sea of Japan , a trip that mixes history, archeology, earthquakes and much mystery.
01 city of diamonds
Abandoned buildings in old mining enclave Kolmannskuppe in the Namib Desert in southern Namibia. / WALTER BIBIKOW
Kolmannskuppe must both his fortune and his misfortune to diamonds. Located in the Namib Desert, this old abandoned mining town today is the only tourist attraction of the Namib Desert. It is a few kilometers from the harbor town of Lüderitz, only inhabited by 130 kilometers around. Travelers who dare to visit (prior authorization from the government) say they still feel the ghosts wandering among the abandoned houses that once was a thriving mining enclave thanks to diamonds.
In 1908, when South West Africa (now Namibia) was a German protectorate, a black worker employed in railway construction by chance picked a stone that turned out to be a diamond. The discovery gave rise precipitously, like a mushroom, this city, once was one of the most prosperous in the continent. He had tram, casino, theater, schools, swimming pool and even department stores where the latest developments in Berlin were sold. His hospital was one of the first in the world to use X-rays and the streets are swept every morning to keep the desert at bay. But the water was more expensive than beer. That little Germany was a paradise for engineers and German settlers, although not so much black miners. It had its heyday in the 1920s-more than 1,000 inhabitants, but little by little, the ancient pearl of the desert was declining its luster as the veins were exhausted. In 1956 the hospital was finally closed and the last residents packed their bags.
In 1990, the Namibian government and De Beers diamond company decided to make this ghost town into a tourist attraction and they succeeded. It is even fitted out a small museum in the old casino, opened shops selling precious stones as souvenirs , some colonial houses were restored while others remained as it is, as if frozen in time … One thing is undeniable: it is hard to resist the charm of the place.
02 Lost City of the Incas
A flowering tree amid the lush mountains of Vilcabamba, in the Andes of Peru. / FRANS LANTING
At the bottom of lush vegetation covered Sacred Valley, Vilcabamba remains a mystery. Archaeologists have found the ruins of yellow stones but the question remains: are the remnants of the secret capital of the last Inca? Centuries after the 1536 rebellion against the Spanish conquerors, yet is still looking for the capital of the Inca resistance.
After facing the troops of Almagro, the rebel Inca Manco chose a hilly place as the heart of the resistance, in the shadow of the mountains. Had just failed narrowly in the release of Cuzco but his secret city, Manco tried to reconstruct a small kingdom playing the Cuzco before the conquest. From his hiding place he launched raids against the Spanish for 36 years and after his assassination in 1545 the Inca fighting continued in the hands of his son, Sayri Tupac conciliator, and later through his brother, Titu Cusi bellicose.
Tupac Amaru, fourth and last of the Incas of Vilcabamba, remains the symbol of Indian resistance in Latin America. In 1572, a punitive expedition led by the viceroy of Peru signed to Vilcabamba: the Spanish artillery destroyed the Inca stronghold but before fleeing, Tupac Amaru burned his little kingdom. The victors decided to found the New Vilcabamba in a more hospitable place and the old was abandoned, slowly submerged under a sea vegetable.
The historical facts are proved but the exact site of Vilcabamba has never been documented. The existence of the lost city of the Incas have fueled the imagination of archaeologists and adventurers who, from time to time, undertake expeditions to find its exact location. Many have believed find but discussions are far from being closed. The mystery nourishes the legend and legend fuels adventure.
03 A perpetual fire
Centralia (United States)
Road destroyed in Centralia, Pennsylvania (USA), due to the fire initiated in 1962 in the coal mine is still active in the underground. / NICOLAUS CZARNECKI
In the Penn State it remains a city consumed by a fire that nobody gets off for over fifty years. It is Centralia, which since May 1, 1962 suffers a perpetual fire that wiped out forever.
Everything was due to a stupid carelessness: some municipal workers who were cleaning the city to celebrate the Memorial Day set fire to a pile of trash next to the cemetery that spread to the underground coal mine galleries extending under the city and that owed its existence. Today only conserves a church, four cemeteries and town hall with a fire truck, just in case …
Like many others, this working class town was founded in 1866 due to the discovery of a coal. He had no great monuments, but a typical American life pleasant, churches, shops, schools, a soccer field … and a population of immigrants, mostly Irish, Polish and Russian. It all ended with the underground fire that last month, was slowly spreading through the cracks in the ground, expelling fumes outside, jets of carbon monoxide and nauseous gases.
Despite that, many remained there, in the absence of other perspectives, but in 1981 it got impossible: a child was about to be swallowed by a sinkhole and the authorities took the decision to evacuate the entire population. There are still a few diehards who refuse to leave Centralia, which has become an attraction state: It has even inspired the creators of the video game Silent Hill , from which there is a film adaptation.
Visitors passing by can see the high temperatures of the stones, destroyed houses and how around the cemetery, the ground still smokes. No one has yet managed to extinguish that fire, which twists and raises the asphalt cracks around which some mosses crossbar. Experts estimate that the underground fire could continue to burn at least two hundred years until all the coal consumed is underground.
04 Roma in the sand
Leptis Magna (Libia)
A tourist in the amphitheater of the Roman city of Leptis Magna, Libya. / SUSANNA WYATT
A 125 kilometers east of Tripoli, near the town of Khoms, Leptis Magna seems indifferent to the turmoil rocking the current Libya. There is still, almost like the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (year 193), when it became one of the most important Roman colonies on the Mediterranean coast.
It was a rich and powerful city with special privileges, but in the following centuries it was decaying and the various waves of barbarian peoples of the desert and ended up top it. In 535, the Byzantines reconquered North Africa and Leptis Magna was again the capital of Tripolitania, strong behind its walls, but empty of inhabitants. But they could do little against the new wave and 642 Arab Roman civilization disappeared definitively Africa. The remains of Leptis Magna sank into the sand.
Until the seventeenth century. A French diplomat clever without too many scruples, Claude Lemaire, noticed the extraordinary marble blocks of the site and began digging the city rushed to sell the precious stone of the ancient city builders in London and Paris. The altar of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in Paris, and the choir of Rouen Cathedral and many other monuments, decorated with whole columns from Leptis.
Since 1920, Italian archaeologists undertook scientific and 1951 excavations, after declaring Libya independence prompted archaeological missions and Leptis Magna emerged with all its splendor along paved roads were the extraordinary amphitheater, the largest in North Africa ; Temple of Serapis and Seventh Severo arch, with its subtle sculptured decoration, or Silin, sumptuous home field open to the sea villa. In 2011, Unesco called on the military forces involved in Libya to respect the site, world heritage site since 1982, so that when calm returns to the country travelers can return to see the African Rome.
05 armored island
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction: the ghostly city that director Sam Mendes recreated in Skyfall (2012) as cache vicious enemy of James Bond played Javier Bardem really existed off the Japanese coast. The Japanese island of Hashima-in, Gunkanjima, the acorazada- island may seem at first glance a prison surrounded by water or a fortress designed to monitor the hundreds of surrounding islands. Nothing of that. It is a mining settlement, appeared by a large coal deposit discovered in the early nineteenth century.
Further economic development of the Japanese empire multiplied the value of the enclave and in 1890, the company acquired Mitsubishi boulder that six hectares and boosted coal mining. In harsh working conditions, the miners and their families were housed in tall buildings of cement, divided into apartments the size of a monastic cell, kitchens and sanitary groups.
Hashima was a very active hive of 30,000 inhabitants that had several schools, a hospital and numerous shops. After the Second World War, the mining activity was redoubled because subsequent Korean War: in 1959 the island recorded the highest population density in the world and was more alive than ever, with equipment of the most diverse: cinema, bars, temples Buddhist and Shinto, and even a brothel. Even earth was imported (a astronomical price) to grow plants on the roofs, for hanging gardens.
The decline began in the late 60s, when oil replaced coal. Mitsubishi in 1974 the last mine closed and the island was finally abandoned. For years swept by typhoons in 2009 they began to get curious visitors to explore this strange place, a maze of decrepit buildings connected by stairs and separated by narrow passages. Some were ancient inhabitants of Hashima, who came to face his past. Currently, they are meeting in association claim that the island has been declared World Heritage as a tribute to all those who lived (and suffered) in that unlikely place that defies the ocean.
Nazi-style holiday 06
The project to recycle one of the largest and most iconic buildings of Nazi Germany, the spa town of Prora, on the island of Rugen, northwest of the country, recently appeared in the European press: retrofit buildings that giant resort in tourist apartments for sale.
Actually, Prora never existed, although it was one of the great dreams of Hitler. It came to lift blocks huge- -ochos buildings along the four and a half kilometers in this Baltic island with the intention of becoming the great resort for the workers of the Third Reich, which would host several million vacationers a year.
Work began in 1933 and a program of activities and free time is created named Force for the joy that included swimming pools, cinemas and restaurants (that never saw the light). But the interior of the buildings was austere, with no decoration except for a loudspeaker propaganda messages and shared bathrooms on each landing.
In 1939, the outbreak of World War II ended the dream of Hitler. Vacationers never arrived and in 1944 the buildings were converted into a military hospital for the wounded from the Wehrmacht and served as a refuge for the population of Hamburg bombed. In 1945, Prora was in the territory of the GDR communist and was transformed into a military base; later became paratroopers headquarters and center of conscientious objectors.
In 1990, this colossal vestige of Nazi Germany was finally abandoned. Although there was always conversion projects (in 2011 a youth hostel was opened in one of the blocks), this place weighs the shadow of its past. What has never spoken is demolition, it is part of the German national heritage: the project and its plans received the grand prize of architecture at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1937.
07 no future futuristic Urbe
Contemplating photos of this city on the northern tip of Taiwan one comes to think of an advance party of aliens, flying saucers included. Actually, Sanzhi are two peoples, Sanzhi and Wanli, separated by about 40 kilometers, built in 1978 by some fans of futuristic design that was all the rage in the seventies. They were conceived as vacation spots for Taiwanese bourgeoisie and US military bases in the island. In total, 15 complexes in six UFOs varied -amarillos, greens, pinks, naranjas- gathered around a common staircase. They had large windows and a well-equipped garden around … but it was over before it began.
The marines were withdrawn in 1979, the builder went bankrupt after the oil crisis and, last but not least, building materials (polyester and glass fiber on a reinforced concrete structure) did not help their conservation. Among legends of all kinds-from homicide among workers to the presence of twenty thousand dead bodies of Dutch in the XII century, bulldozers razed Sanzhi finally in 2010.
Wanli, on the coast, brings together hundreds of the famous Finn Matti Suuronen capsules that inspired Sanzhi UFOs. In 1968, the designer created two models: Future, circular, surrounded by portholes and supported by four feet and Venturo, a flattened cube and glass on four sides. Homes of the future, equipped and ATVs, removable and transportable by helicopter. But the park Wanli had no success Sanzhi. Among those decadent summer, now faded and houses surrounded by lush vegetation, the visitor may experience the feeling of being in comics, with aliens to appear after the access hatches.
08 Citadel with feet of clay
In 2003, a massive earthquake in southern Iran destroyed one of the most beautiful and inspiring citadels of the world. Until then, Bam had been ideal for films set in oasis, fortresses in the desert and the legendary Silk Road stage. The huge complex, the construction of the world’s largest adobe, accessible from the city of Kerman, south of the country, until then kept 77 towers, battlements and a maze of streets with porticoes and domes. A strong almost perfect isolated between desert mountains, which unfolded over more than six square kilometers and, in the eyes of the traveler, appeared as a real mirage.
Raised more than 2,500 years ago in the great Iranian desert with palm logs and adobe, it has been attacked, destroyed and rebuilt several times. Is mentioned by Marco Polo in his Book of the wonders of the world , having just recovered from the devastating passage of Genghis Khan, the last rehabilitation (before the earthquake), dating from the Safavid dynasty, between the between the XVI and XVIII . It was abandoned in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century began to arrive the first tourists. The restoration in 1950 gave its walls an artificial freshness of freshly molded sand castle, respect, yes, techniques and traditional materials.
2003 shake it devastated everything (30,000 died) and launched a rescue program to continue collaborating in many countries, Japan, Italy and France especially. Ten years after the earthquake the most iconic elements have regained their previous appearance and also the earthquake brought to light deeper layers oldest remains, some 6,000 years old.
09 majority Disappearance
Currently, Gagnon is just a Facebook page where users post photos to keep the memory of a city on the east coast of Canada who died in his youth alive. It was wiped out after a vote of the National Assembly of Quebec, in October 1984. Months later the bulldozers and excavators destroyed everything and only a crossroads now says the old town center.
In Gangon then they lived about 4,000 inhabitants. Officially founded in 1957 with the discovery of iron ore deposits near Jeannine and Barbel lake, it was a modern town and well equipped where people were happy despite the isolation (it had still a good access road) and harsh weather conditions. In 1970 life was complicated by the exhaustion of the mines, although production (and workers) to Reef Fire Lake, 90 kilometers northeast derived. In October 1984 came the coup de grace with the closure of the latter, and the inhabitants of Gagnon knew the city would disappear and would be compensated for their lost homes. Today there are only a few spaces open pit mining, but none of their houses, typical of the architecture of the 60s.
10 suicide City
Although Masada was destroyed centuries ago, you can not say it’s a lost city. On the contrary, its magnificent ruins, in the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea background, are one of the most symbolic places of Israel and its history one of those legends of courage and pride.
Built by Herod the Great between 37 and 15 BC, it is located on a plateau 450 meters above sea level to serve as a refuge in case of revolt or an Egyptian invasion. The wall, strong and impregnable, hides a luxurious mansion and a huge palace (4,000 square meters) which housed the administration, luxury units, workshops and armory. To meet the unique source of the plateau, Herod dig nine gigantic deposits and channels to collect the scarce rainfall. In the year 4 before Christ died without having occupied.
He abandoned by Roman forces in 66, became the refuge of several hundred rebels, who, after the fall of Jerusalem, the Zealots and their families joined in his escape from the holy city. In 73, the Romans decided to lay siege. The Jewish historian Josephus has left a detailed account of the rebellion until the fall of the square, whose outcome was particularly tragic: when the Roman forces entered the fortress only found burned buildings. The people of the city were among them death before burning. The narrative of Josephus always attracted many explorers in search of that mythical strength identified in 1842. In the early 60s began archaeological excavations and today, in addition to its ruins, impressive to see how the soldiers lend a martial oath in that beautiful place that embodies the founding myth of the Jewish state. See the sun rise over the ruins of Masada is something you never forget.
11 nuclear Pompeii
There tourists for everyone, including those seeking strange, dark and even morbid destinations such as the cities abandoned after the nuclear disaster. Chernobyl has become a new tourist destination since the Ukrainian authorities opened visits the exclusion zone (30 kilometers) around the city in 2011.
Many foreigners walk across the stage at which it was (until Fukushima) the largest nuclear disaster in history, entering the accessible parts of the plant to then make a circuit coach for the exclusion zone. The highlight comes at Pripyat three kilometers north of Chernobyl, a strange abandoned town that was once a modern city designed by planners from 60 to house the employees of the plant. His story was cut short on 27 April 1986, subsequent to the explosion of reactor number 4 on the population (about 50 000), to which no one warned of the catastrophe, saw the arrival of a convoy of trucks and chartered buses to empty the city as quickly. The slogan was not carrying any belongings, because the return was due, secured them three days later. They never returned.
Currently, a dead silence that greets the visitor, finished the visit, must necessarily pass under a portico security measures radiation. Prípiat never was decontaminated and can register, depending on weather conditions, radioactive particles equivalent to 70 times the international safety threshold. Nothing signals the presence of danger, everything remains as it was that day. From the Palace of Culture which housed a library, show lounge, fitness room and conferences- to Polyssia hotel, the largest in the city, the same desolation reigns. In the distance the silhouette of the plant, threatening and familiar is observed, as if nothing had happened.