Incredible Secrets of Abandoned Places Forgotten by The World

Let's look inside some abandoned places which sit on some seriously sinister secrets.

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There’s something about abandoned buildings and structures in disrepair that’s disturbingly fascinating. We want to get inside and explore them, take a look around, and see what prior occupants have left behind. However, there are some places out there that have been left abandoned with very good reason.

From the sinister secrets of neglected sanatoriums to churches hiding long forgotten truths beneath their very floorboards, let's explore the true stories and incredible secrets of abandoned places that were completely forgotten by the world, ready to be remembered once more.

Borgund Stave Church

Lærdal, located in Norway, is a place that’s iconic in every way: green hills, clear rivers, striking mountains, though all that serenity is interrupted by the dark, jagged structure situated in the middle of a valley, surrounded unmistakably by rows of headstones.

The Borgund Stave Church is a haunting structure built many a moon ago, between 1180 and 1200, in the tiny village of Borgund. Much like the blackened exterior of that multi-tiered building, the interior is incredibly dark owing to their being very few windows, a design specifically meant to keep evil spirits out.

Borgundstavkirke

Built on a stone foundation, the building itself is made entirely of wood, with that on the exterior being tar coated for protection against the elements. Though that’s not its only protection.

The wooden walls and doors inside are covered with carvings of protective runes and marks, ancient carvings of dragons and snakes guard the rooftops, and wooden crosses are positioned all over to keep out evil.

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That place functioned as a parish church until 1868, when it was suddenly abandoned, likely because stave churches were going out of fashion at the time. But its 600 yearlong legacy was saved from complete destruction, and it was converted into a museum.

While that seems wholesome, the museum itself now sits on a harrowing secret. Although a graveyard surrounds it, locals used to bury their dead underneath the church, only abandoning the practice because the smell got too much to bear.

But despite banning the practice, apparently locals would secretly, in the dead of night, dig out small plots right next to the church, small enough that tiny coffins might fit inside and lie beneath the church where the ground was considered more sacred!

bogund church cemetery

So, any visitors to the site, hoping to learn of Norway’s rich and cultured past, may not know they’re treading on floorboards that conceal the last resting places of many small bodies. As if that place didn’t look dark enough from the outside!

Hashima Island

You might know the name Nagasaki, the Japanese site of the horrendous atomic bomb explosion in World War II, but are you familiar with the tiny island off its coast? Known by many names, such as Gunkanjima, Battleship Island or simply Hashima Island, from afar it looks like sixteen acres of rocky outcroppings.

Island Nagasaki

But the closer you get, the more you notice the old crumbling buildings blanketed by thick foliage. It’s a concrete jungle, which, at its peak, supported up to 5,000 people who lived there back in 1959. The island sat on a rich coal mine, bringing in a staggering 15.7 million tons of the stuff between 1891 and 1974.

But when the coal ran out, the island was abandoned in a matter of weeks, with residents hurriedly leaving their lives behind in a desperate bid to get back to the mainland as quickly as possible. But the desertion aside, that island has a past that’s much blacker than coal.

During the World Wars, Chinese and Korean prisoners of war were forced to work on the island, laboring almost a mile underground for over twelve hours a day. They lived in torturous conditions, having to go without proper food or water rations. It's no surprise the inmates there nicknamed it Hell Island.

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And to this day, it’s unknown exactly how many prisoners perished there. Today, Hashima’s creepy ruins are all but closed off, with only 5% of the island still accessible to visitors. It’s far too dangerous to go wandering around the site, with buildings on the constant brink of collapse from age and typhoon damage.

Chernobyl

Of all the abandoned places in the world, Chernobyl is arguably one of the most famous. On April 26th,1986, Chernobyl’s Nuclear Power Plant suffered a catastrophic meltdown. It's estimated the disaster released about four hundred times more radioactive material than the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster

As a result, an area with a radius of 19 miles centered around the plant was immediately evacuated, now known as the Exclusion Zone. With some 116,000 citizens in the zone forced to abandon their homes permanently over the days and weeks following, cities caught in the zone, such as Pripyat, became ghost towns overnight.

Today, almost 40 years later, crumbling classrooms, overgrown ruins and even a fairground are the only things left proving people once lived there. Some educated guesses state that it could be 20,000 years before the area can be considered habitable again, specifically zones around the power plant itself. But that hasn’t deterred some determined tourists.

In 2011, 25 years on from the disaster, tours were permitted of some of the less irradiated areas of Chernobyl. Although seas of abandoned gas masks and creepy dolls appear to have been staged for tourist amusement and social media hype, one fixture hasn’t been: the Claw of Death.

Chernobyl Disaster Pripyat radioactive gripping claw

In the weeks following the meltdown, that enormous piece of crane machinery was used to help dismantle the reactor and clean up the radioactive graphite that had exploded out of it. Once the task was completed, the claw itself was dumped by the side of a road a few miles from Pripyat, and apparently forgotten about.

But 30 years later, in 2011, Sydney archaeologist Robert Maxwell was conducting a field visit of the area and stumbled across it. Not only did it stick out of the scenery like a sore thumb, but it was sending his Geiger counter, a radiation detection device wild. The amount of radiation being emitted by the claw was some 39.80 micro sieverts per hour.

It takes exposure to roughly 1,000 micro sieverts over a short period of time to noticeably affect the human body, so staying in the vicinity of that thing for more than 24 hours would be a bad, possibly fatal decision. At least we know why it’s called the Claw of Death!

Beelitz-Heilstatten Hospital

Hospitals can be scary at the best of times, but abandoned hospitals are terrifying all the time! If you want proof, then you should see Germany’s Beelitz-Heilstatten Hospital.

Left in a state of desecration for some 30 years, the peeling paint, eerily empty stairwells, and long, dark corridors makes any visit to that sanatorium complex a uniquely terrifying experience, especially once you realize its more than 125 years old.

Beelitz Heilstaetten

It was once the largest treatment center in the world for lung diseases like tuberculosis, which 125 years ago didn’t have the highest recovery rates, so we can only imagine the horrors suffered within those walls.

During the World Wars, however, it served as a military hospital and during World War II, was occupied by the Soviet Military. The Soviets managed the hospital for 50 years before its total abandonment in 1995 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Although it was emptied after its closure, some features remain; a decrepit, old piano and baths installed deep into the floors, once used for intensive therapies, are bone-chilling features for sure.

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But perhaps the most unsettling secret of the Beelitz Heilstatten is its treatment of an infamous former patient. During the Battle of the Somme in the First World War, the future leader of the German fascist movement, yes, the madman with the toothbrush moustache, stayed in the hospital as a patient after wounding his leg in battle.

Little did the nurses and doctors at the time know that the very injured imbecile would become the biggest blight on Germany’s history. If they had, we can only wonder if he’d have made it out of there alive!

Rummu Quarry

Rummu, located in Estonia, is a disused and now submerged limestone quarry, with the white rock making the groundwaters that have flooded there look beautifully blue! But as picturesque as it may seem, something along those shores holds secrets so heinous, it spoils the beauty for as far as the eye can see.

Rummu quarry

There, you can spot the ruins of derelict quarry utility buildings, both of them also underwater. Those were built during the 1940’s, at the height of the quarry’s use. Scuba divers can still see the barred windows underwater, with the large buildings filled with reeds, moss and debris. To explore that creepy Atlantis, you'd need to be very careful.

Jump diving into the water is extremely dangerous, since the lakebed is home to chunks of thick concrete, tree branches, spikes, even rusted, forgotten machinery. Coils of barbed wire can be seen too, strewn about the place like a deadly fishing net.

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But something deadlier took place in those now drowned buildings. Back in the 1940’s, The Soviet Union was in control of Rummu quarry, and what utility those buildings really served was labor. Yes, those were in fact prisons. Inmates there were forced to mine the quarry, the physical strain of their work was extreme, and their primary goal was to extract the limestone.

The Soviet Union employed, which is certainly one word for it, over 400 prisoners, and that only let up when Estonia gained independence in 1991. The prison was swiftly abandoned and left to rot, but without any maintenance holding the fort together, the groundwater seeped into the quarry, creating that ironically beautiful lagoon.

Some buildings were swallowed whole by the water, where the remains of others poke out. Though, no amount of water can wash away the atrocities that undoubtedly took place there.

Smallpox Memorial Hospital

You go to the hospital to get better, right? Well, as it turns out, not always. This building in the picture below is most famously known as the Smallpox Hospital, which was once located on Roosevelt Island, then known as Blackwell’s Island, in Manhattan, New York City.

Smallpox Hospital

Originally designed by architect James Renwick Jr., the 100 bed hospital opened back in 1856. It was built to quarantine those diagnosed with smallpox, a deadly and highly infectious disease you either recovered from or you didn’t. The hospital had a disturbingly high turnover, treating approximately 7,000 patients a year, most of which did not survive.

Then in 1875 it was relocated to North Brothers Island further up the East River, and by the 1950’s, with the passing peak of the disease, the isolated complex became more of an inconvenience to upkeep, and it fell into a state of disrepair.

Riverside Hospital North Brother Island crop
reivax from Washington, DC, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, it's a decrepit husk that casts an eerie shadow over the island. Its center building is made entirely, from front to back, of the island’s own schist rock quarried, cut, dressed, and laid by prisoners of the penitentiary. As it turns out, not always.

But before attempting to provide respite for the ill, in 1832 a penitentiary was the first thing built on the island, isolating prisoners from the city and mainland. But the prisoners weren’t the only inmates there. The island was also soon home to workhouses, hospitals for the incurable, and 7 years after the penitentiary was built.

The New York City Lunatic Asylum, a special hospital for the insane. Far from the quality of mental health services people receive today, back then undercover reports brought to light how mentally ill patients had been put on the island more to be out of sight and out of mind.

They were living in some truly harrowing conditions: overcrowded rooms in filthy states, ice cold baths, spoiled food, physical abuse from caretakers that wasn’t a place people went to get better, that was a place people went to live out their days forgotten by the rest of the city.

smallpox memorial hospital treatment

By the 1900’s, as healthcare progressed, the last patients were moved to other hospitals and, like the Smallpox Hospital, it too fell into disrepair by the 1950’s. Never mind the building, the sordid history of that entire island is best left in the past!

Chateau Miranda

The name Chateau Miranda may sound like an incredibly expensive hotel, but in reality, it’s much more impressive and also haunted! It’s the name of a neo Gothic Belgium castle, complete with a definitely not haunted 183 ft tall clocktower, built all the way back in 1866.

Castle Miranda

That stone residence was completely demolished in October 2017, but before it came crumbling down, it was home to the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family, who escaped to that hideaway castle during the French Revolution. It’s had a long standing history of violence and war, having also been occupied by German forces in World War II.

During that time, the estate it rests on hosted one of the bloodiest single battles fought by the United States; the Battle of the Bulge, which saw almost 200,000 men lose their lives in just 6 weeks. The family soon lost residence of the mighty fortress, succumbing to the control of the National Railway Company of Belgium in 1950.

It was renamed Castle Noisy and rebranded as an orphanage and holiday camp for sickly children. It all sounded very innocent and sweet, able to provide 200 children with a holiday experience that advocated fresh air, a swimming pool and even a small football pitch!

It seems like a dream, but secretly the kids were treated only slightly better than vermin. It turns out that what they didn't want you to know is that the staff there lived in luxury, while the children were cruelly subjected to strict rules and traumatic living conditions.

After the camp closed, the costs of keeping the Chateau maintained were too high, and so it deteriorated, until one evening, a fire caused heavy damage to the building. It was likely to have been started deliberately, but whoever that mysterious figure is or what their motives were, we may never know.

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The building lingered in a derelict state, with decay and vandalism being frequent problems. Even years after it was completely abandoned, dolls were found in strange places, with urban explorers claiming they’d heard the chilling screams of children inside, some even said they’d seen the ghosts of kids wandering around the site!

Redmond Treehouse

If you’re of a sensitive nature, you might want to get your tissues ready, because our next topic looks like a children’s dream treehouse but is the site of a nightmarish tale. It's located in Redmond, Washington, with Victorian style architecture built into the branches of a maple tree, and a design that feels like it’s been plucked straight out of a fantasy novel!

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Built in the 1980s, Steve Rondel hoped that treehouse would be the perfect play area for his kids. It certainly looks like it would be a lot of fun, with a balcony, lookout, 4 floors, a jetty leading to a moat, and even a spiral staircase that leads up to the top floor!

Steve and his wife Diana had purchased the area of land a decade previously, transforming the huge maple tree and a swamp into their woodland paradise. As their children grew up, they began to take an interest in the carpentry and engineering needed to maintain the treehouse, it was a real family project!

That is, until, tragically, in 2004, one of the children unexpectedly passed away. The family was broken. They came together on other projects, trying their best to recover what they had lost, but then in 2008, the financial crisis dealt them another blow. And like that wasn’t enough, Diana fell ill and also passed in 2015. During that time, the family’s priorities shifted, and the treehouse fell into disrepair.

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Today, it still stands alone in the forest, desperately waiting to be played in. In 2019, a Crowdfunder was started to try and restore it to its former glory, but it sadly never took off. In the years following, it’s fallen into a state of slow decay, and without restoration, it’s fated to slowly fall apart; a dying monument to the once happy memories of the Rondel family.

Haludovo Palace Hotel

The Haludovo Palace Hotel on the Croatian island Krk was once considered one of the most beautiful and exclusive getaway destinations in the world. The building attracted the wealthiest tourists, and boasted some very extensive activities. That included bowling lanes, tennis courts, and enormous swimming pools rumored to have once been filled with champagne!

Haludovo Palace Hotel krk

But today the hotel resort is abandoned, and the interior completely destroyed! What happened is, it was built back in 1971, the exclusive hotel attracted investments from Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine, who put $45 million into opening the hotel’s Penthouse Adriatic Club casino in 1972.

However, the following year, the casino went bankrupt and was closed, with the scale of its debts threating to take the rest of the hotel with it! It just managed to keep its head above water until 2001, when it shut its doors for good.

However, in the 10 years leading up to its demise, it wasn’t exclusive clientele that hotel was serving; as the Yugoslav civil war raged from 1991 to 2001, the hotel was converted into a refugee shelter. When the war finally ended, the refugees were told to leave, but they didn't take kindly to that at all, that hotel had been their home, some for the best part of a decade!

When they were finally forced out, they decided to strip the hotel of every valuable item you could think of, down to the pipes, radiators, copper wiring, and electric sockets! Haludovo was completely desecrated, with shards of broken glass on the floors and bits of concrete staircase littering the ground.

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Most frighteningly, a long red stain leads up two flights of stairs to the top floor, and creepy messages flood the walls. It’s a stark reminder of the impact the war had on the country, one that’s literally left writing on the walls.

Kolmanskop

Over in the Namib Desert, in the middle of Namibia, Africa, lies the mysterious ghost town of Kolmanskop. Isolated and completely abandoned, the region is known as the forbidden zone.

Kolmanskop

In 1908, diamonds were discovered in that area! Word of the discovery spread fast and, by 1912, a town had sprung up, producing a million carats a year, responsible for 11.7 percent of the world’s total diamond production. But that huge, wealthy industry was destined to collapse.

Intensive mining meant the area attracted a lot of hopeful prospectors, and so the area was depleted of the precious gemstones by the 1930’s. When the townspeople left, they abandoned their homes along with any bulky possessions, and by 1956, Kolmanskop was completely deserted.

In a matter of years, the shifting sand dunes had gradually crept into the town, moving through the open windows and doors of the houses and filling them to the brim with sand. While the depletion of diamonds is blamed for the desertion, it was mostly due to German jurisdiction over the colony, which wanted greater control over the native jewels.

Kolmanskop sand

Greed often fuels the most sickening crimes, and in Kolmanskop there was no exception. The area was heavily restricted, with rights to the diamonds falling exclusively into the laps of a Berlin based company; native tribespeople were actually displaced from their land due to the zone's construction, with only authorized personnel allowed access.

Before its demise, Kolmanskop and nearby Lüderitz had become the wealthiest locations in all of Africa, with colonial exploitation at the heart of it all. Of course, that couldn't have happened without the miners who worked there, who were Namibian locals.

Today, much of Kolmanskop has been reclaimed by the desert, with only the walls and foundations of a few houses remaining, like a time capsule lost to the sands, one that very few want to dig up.

Bokor Hill Station

What is it about abandoned hotels that makes them so spooky? Their size maybe? Their designs? Maybe it’s the secrets all of them seem to be hiding, as Bokor Hill Station proves all too well.

There was French colonial buildings located on the top of Bokor Mountain, about 23 miles west of Kampot in Cambodia, intended to have been a luxury resort for the occupying French soldiers in the early 1920s.

Bokor palace hotel

But the region has since been entrenched in arduous political difficulties, involving rebellious coups, tyrants and regimes all of which played into the hotel’s downfall. It was first abandoned in the late 1940s due to local insurrections. In 1962, a casino was opened, and buildings added to the complex, including an annex for the palace, and a mayor's office.

After Sihanouk, the head of state of Cambodia, was overthrown in a 1970 coup, Bokor Hill station was considered an appealing location to conduct guerrilla warfare! Almost overnight, it went from a luxury vacation spot to a war camp! And from there it got progressively worse.

In 1972 Bokor mountain was abandoned again when the Khmer Rouge took control of the area. That was an army backed by the repressive, totalitarian party that dominated the country at the time. Seven years later, and the Rouge entrenched themselves firmly into Bokor hill, holding on tightly to the location during a Vietnamese invasion.

Now completely forgotten, it stands alone with more military memories than those of luxury. While derelict, most of the buildings are still standing; the Catholic church for example is in surprisingly good shape.

Bokor Hill Station Catholic Church

Bokor Hill Station’s best kept secret, however, isn’t to do with its military occupation, but it’s very construction. Because of the remote mountain location, building the resort was labor intensive and it’s estimated a staggering 1000 people lost their lives during the 9 months it took to build. They say luxury comes at a price, but that cost is far too high.

Craig House Sanitorium

Psychiatric hospitals those days have an unsettlingly clinical feel to them, the almost universal mint green paint and stark rooms can send a shiver up your spine. But America’s first privately licensed psychiatric hospital was much, much more sinister looking. Craig House, a Victorian mansion in upstate New York built for a civil war officer, was converted into a psychiatric hospital back in 1915.

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The gigantic gothic mansion is surrounded by over 60 acres of land, and while it looked like a house of horrors from the outside, it was marketed as a safe haven for the mentally ill , practically a vacation spot! With skiing, intensive talk therapy, a music room complete with an entire organ, and fine dining on offer to all patients.

As you can imagine, it could only be afforded by very wealthy clients, putting them out $750 a month, that’s roughly $22,500 in today’s money. For that price, patients rightfully expected only the best treatment. In reality though, the sanitorium only made them worse.

The wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald was admitted to the institution, along with many other famous names such as Truman Capote, Rosemary Kennedy, Francis Seymour, even Marilyn Monroe!

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However, tragedy surrounded craig hill house in many forms. Many patients suffered untimely deaths on the grounds, several fires engulfed some of the estate’s buildings, and a litany of strange occurrences forced it to close in 1999. Today, the estate sits empty, boarded up and in ruins. Well, for all the cash flowing through there, it seems not even money could save that place from the ruin of its own reputation.

I hope you were amazed at these incredible secrets of abandoned places forgotten by the world! Thanks for reading.

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