10 Mysterious Abandoned Cities on Earth: Exploring Hidden Histories and Haunting Beauty

10 Mysterious Abandoned Cities On Earth: Exploring the Unknown Past

From the ancient ruins of Pompeii to the modern-day ghost town of Pripyat, abandoned cities have fascinated people for centuries. There is something hauntingly beautiful about these places, where time stands still and nature reclaims what was once hers. In this article, we will explore 10 of the most mysterious abandoned cities on Earth, delving into their history, legends, and eerie atmosphere.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Lost City of Petra
  3. The Sunken City of Baia
  4. The Derinkuyu Underground City
  5. The Forgotten City of Teotihuacan
  6. The Hauntingly Beautiful Kolmanskop
  7. The Abandoned City of Pripyat
  8. The Crumbling City of Varosha
  9. The Deserted City of Humberstone
  10. The Creepy Castle of Sammezzano
  11. The Mysterious Ruins of Tikal
  12. Conclusion
  13. FAQs


Abandoned cities are a testament to the impermanence of human civilization. They remind us that no matter how grand and mighty we may feel, nature has the ultimate say. In this article, we will take a journey through time and space, exploring the mysterious abandoned cities that still stand today. From the ancient to the modern, from the sunken to the underground, we will uncover the secrets and stories that these places hold.

1. The Lost City of Petra

Petra is an ancient city nestled in the mountains of Jordan that were built by the Nabataean people around 312 BC. The city was strategically located on a trade route that linked Arabia, Egypt, and Syria, and it flourished as a hub of commerce and culture for centuries.

The city was carved out of red sandstone cliffs, creating a unique blend of natural and man-made beauty. Its most famous landmark is the Treasury, a stunning temple facade that greets visitors as they enter the city through a narrow gorge known as the Siq.

Beyond the Treasury lies a sprawling complex of temples, tombs, houses, and theaters that once bustled with activity. The city was home to an estimated 30,000 people at its peak, and its wealth and influence extended far beyond its borders.

However, the city's prosperity was short-lived. It was eventually abandoned and forgotten, lost to the sands of time and the shifting tides of history. For centuries, Petra remained a hidden gem, known only to local Bedouins and the occasional European traveler.

It wasn't until the 19th century that Petra was rediscovered by the Western world, thanks to the efforts of explorers and archaeologists who were drawn to its mystique and grandeur. Since then, the city has become a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Today, visitors to Petra can explore its ancient ruins and marvel at its breathtaking beauty. They can hike through the Siq, marvel at the Treasury, and climb to the top of the Monastery for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. And as they do so, they can't help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at the sheer magnitude and splendor of this lost city.

The Lost City of Petra

The Legacy of Petra

Petra's legacy lives on, both in the memories of its former inhabitants and in the hearts of those who have been touched by its beauty and majesty. The city is a testament to human ingenuity and creativity, a reminder of what we can accomplish when we work together and harness the power of nature.

But Petra is also a cautionary tale, a reminder of the fragility of human existence and the impermanence of even the greatest empires. It is a reminder that nothing lasts forever, and that our legacy will ultimately be defined not by what we build, but by the impact we have on the world around us.

In this way, Petra is more than just an ancient city. It is a symbol of hope and resilience, a testament to the enduring power of human spirit and the ability to overcome even the greatest challenges.

2. The Sunken City of Baia

The ancient city of Baia was once a thriving resort town on the coast of Italy, known for its natural hot springs and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a popular destination for wealthy Romans, who built lavish villas and bathhouses in the area.

However, over time, the city began to sink into the sea, as a result of seismic activity and rising sea levels. Today, much of the city lies submerged beneath the waters of the bay of Naples, creating a haunting and surreal underwater landscape.

Despite its submerged state, the sunken city of Baia remains an important archaeological site, offering a unique glimpse into the daily life of the ancient Romans. Visitors can explore the ruins of villas, temples, and other structures, and marvel at the intricate mosaics and frescoes that adorn their walls.

Some of the most impressive sights in the sunken city include the Piscina Mirabilis, a massive underground cistern that once supplied fresh water to the city, and the Temple of Mercury, a grand temple dedicated to the Roman god of commerce and travel.

The sunken city of Baia is also home to a diverse array of marine life, making it a popular destination for divers and snorkelers. As they explore the submerged ruins, they can swim alongside schools of fish, octopuses, and other sea creatures, adding to the sense of otherworldly wonder that permeates the site.

The Sunken City of Baia

The Importance of Baia

The sunken city of Baia is not just a fascinating tourist attraction - it is also an important site of historical and scientific significance. The ruins offer a wealth of information about the ancient Roman world, from their architectural and engineering practices to their social and cultural customs.

Additionally, the site is a valuable tool for studying the effects of climate change and natural disasters on coastal communities. As sea levels continue to rise and coastal areas become increasingly vulnerable to flooding and erosion, the sunken city of Baia serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of human settlements and the importance of developing sustainable solutions for our changing planet.

3. The Derinkuyu Underground City

Located in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, the Derinkuyu Underground City is a remarkable feat of ancient engineering and architecture. Carved out of soft volcanic rock, the city extends eight levels below ground, with tunnels, rooms, and passages spanning more than 85 meters in depth.

The city was likely built by the Phrygians, an ancient civilization that inhabited the area from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE, but was later expanded and used by early Christians fleeing persecution from the Roman Empire. It is estimated that the city could have housed up to 20,000 people at its peak.

The underground city includes a variety of rooms and chambers, including living quarters, kitchens, wineries, and even a chapel with a crucifix carved into the rock. There are also air shafts and wells for ventilation and water supply, as well as traps and doors to protect against intruders.

One of the most impressive features of the Derinkuyu Underground City is the sheer size and complexity of the tunnels and passages. Some of the tunnels are only a meter wide, while others are spacious enough to accommodate multiple people walking side by side. There are also steep staircases and narrow shafts that descend deep into the earth.

Today, visitors can explore the Derinkuyu Underground City on guided tours, marveling at the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the ancient builders who created such an intricate and functional underground network.

The Derinkuyu Underground City

The Significance of Derinkuyu

The Derinkuyu Underground City is not just a remarkable example of ancient architecture - it also holds important insights into the history and culture of the region. The city provides valuable clues about the daily lives, customs, and beliefs of the Phrygians and early Christians who lived there, shedding light on their religious practices, social organization, and economic activities.

Additionally, the city serves as a symbol of resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity. The Phrygians and early Christians who built and used the city faced a range of challenges, from natural disasters to political persecution, yet they were able to create and maintain a thriving community in the depths of the earth.

4. The Forgotten City of Teotihuacan

Located just outside Mexico City, the ancient city of Teotihuacan was one of the largest and most influential cities in Mesoamerica. At its height, around 500 CE, it was home to more than 100,000 people and covered an area of more than 20 square kilometers.

The city is best known for its monumental architecture, including the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. These structures, along with the surrounding residential and commercial buildings, were built using a combination of stone and adobe brick, and were decorated with elaborate murals, sculptures, and carvings.

Despite its size and significance, Teotihuacan was abandoned by the end of the 7th century, and its inhabitants disappeared without leaving any written records. The city was later rediscovered and partially restored by the Aztecs, who revered it as a sacred site, but much of its history and culture remains shrouded in mystery.

Today, visitors can explore the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, marveling at the scale and beauty of its architecture and trying to piece together the story of its rise and fall. Archaeologists continue to excavate and study the site, uncovering new clues about the city's origins, organization, and significance.

The Forgotten City of Teotihuacan

The Legacy of Teotihuacan

Although much remains unknown about Teotihuacan, its impact on Mesoamerican civilization is undeniable. The city's monumental architecture and urban planning influenced later cultures throughout the region, including the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec.

Teotihuacan was also an important center of trade and commerce, connecting regions as far away as the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific coast. The city's artisans and craftsmen produced a wide variety of goods, including pottery, textiles, and obsidian tools, which were traded and exported throughout Mesoamerica.

Perhaps most importantly, Teotihuacan was a cultural and religious center, with a complex and diverse population that included people from many different ethnic and linguistic groups. The city's art, architecture, and religious practices reflected this diversity, and its influence can still be seen in modern Mexican culture today.

5. The Hauntingly Beautiful Kolmanskop

Located in the Namib Desert of southern Namibia, the ghost town of Kolmanskop is a haunting reminder of a bygone era. Founded in the early 1900s as a diamond mining town, Kolmanskop was home to German miners and their families, who built a thriving community amidst the harsh desert landscape.

At its peak, Kolmanskop was a bustling town with a hospital, school, theater, casino, and even an ice factory. The diamond industry boomed, and the town's residents enjoyed a high standard of living, complete with luxuries like imported furniture and fine china.

However, by the 1930s, the diamond fields were depleted, and the town began to decline. Residents moved away, leaving their homes, businesses, and possessions behind. Today, the buildings of Kolmanskop are slowly being consumed by the desert sands, creating an eerie and surreal landscape.

Despite the decay, the town's unique architecture and haunting beauty have made it a popular destination for tourists and photographers. Visitors can explore the abandoned buildings, wander through the empty streets, and imagine what life was like in this remote and isolated outpost.

The Hauntingly Beautiful Kolmanskop

Preserving Kolmanskop

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve Kolmanskop and protect it from further decay. The Namibian government has declared the town a national monument, and a restoration project is underway to stabilize the buildings and prevent them from collapsing.

Tourism is also being managed to ensure that visitors can appreciate the town's beauty without causing further damage. Visitors are required to pay a fee, and are only allowed to enter certain buildings that have been deemed safe for public access.

The preservation of Kolmanskop is important not just for its historical and cultural value, but also for its unique ecological significance. The town's abandoned buildings have become a refuge for desert-adapted wildlife, including lizards, snakes, and spiders, and the surrounding desert is home to a variety of plants and animals that have adapted to survive in this harsh environment.

6. The Abandoned City of Pripyat

Pripyat was a thriving city in northern Ukraine until one fateful day in 1986. On April 26th, a catastrophic explosion occurred at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant, releasing massive amounts of radioactive material into the air.

In the wake of the disaster, the entire city of Pripyat was evacuated, and its 50,000 residents were forced to leave their homes, belongings, and way of life behind. Today, Pripyat stands as a ghost town, frozen in time and surrounded by an exclusion zone that remains off-limits to the public.

Despite the danger posed by the radiation, Pripyat has become a popular destination for adventurous tourists and photographers. The abandoned buildings, including apartment complexes, schools, and even an amusement park, offer a haunting glimpse into a world that was suddenly and permanently disrupted.

The Abandoned City of Pripyat

The Exclusion Zone

Access to Pripyat and the surrounding exclusion zone is tightly controlled by the Ukrainian government, and visitors must obtain a special permit to enter the area. The exclusion zone is considered one of the most contaminated areas on Earth, with high levels of radiation still present decades after the disaster.

While some areas of the exclusion zone are considered safe for short-term visits, the government strongly advises against prolonged exposure to the radiation. Visitors are required to follow strict safety protocols, including wearing protective clothing and avoiding contact with contaminated materials.

Preserving the Memory of Pripyat

While the tragedy of Chernobyl and the evacuation of Pripyat are a painful reminder of the dangers of nuclear power, efforts are being made to preserve the memory of the city and its former residents. The Chernobyl Museum in Kiev houses exhibits on the disaster and its aftermath, and a memorial to the victims of the explosion has been erected in Pripyat.

In recent years, there has also been a growing movement to recognize the cultural significance of Pripyat as a ghost town and a monument to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of tragedy.

7. The Crumbling City of Varosha

Once a bustling tourist destination in the city of Famagusta, on the east coast of Cyprus, Varosha is now a ghost town, abandoned and off-limits to the public since 1974.

The city's decline began during the conflict between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus, and Varosha was seized and fenced off. Its residents were forced to flee, leaving behind their homes, businesses, and possessions.

Today, Varosha remains a frozen-in-time relic of a bygone era. Its abandoned high-rise hotels, restaurants, and apartments stand as a haunting reminder of the city's past glory.

The Crumbling City of Varosha

The Future of Varosha

For decades, the fate of Varosha has been a subject of political tension between the Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus. The Turkish authorities have proposed reopening the city as a tourist destination, while the Greek Cypriots claim that the city is rightfully theirs and should be returned to their control.

Despite some limited reopening of the city in recent years, the majority of Varosha remains abandoned and inaccessible to visitors. Its future remains uncertain, as the political situation on Cyprus remains unresolved.

Exploring Varosha

While the city remains off-limits to the public, visitors can catch glimpses of Varosha from the nearby beach. The eerie sight of abandoned high-rise buildings and overgrown streets is a stark contrast to the bustling resort town that Varosha once was.

Despite its current state of disrepair, Varosha remains a potent symbol of the fragility of human civilization and the impact of conflict on communities and their built environments.

8. The Deserted City of Humberstone

Located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Humberstone was once a thriving mining town. Founded in 1862, the city was named after James Humberstone, the British businessman who first discovered saltpeter deposits in the area.

For decades, Humberstone was a bustling hub of industrial activity, producing saltpeter for use in fertilizer and gunpowder. At its peak in the early 20th century, the city was home to over 3,700 residents, who lived in company-owned houses, attended schools and churches, and shopped in local stores.

But by the mid-20th century, the demand for saltpeter began to decline, and Humberstone fell into decline. The city was eventually abandoned in the 1960s, as its residents left in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

Today, Humberstone stands as a testament to the boom-and-bust cycles of extractive industries, and a haunting reminder of the human cost of resource extraction.

The Deserted City of Humberstone

Exploring Humberstone

Despite its abandoned state, Humberstone is open to visitors who wish to explore its crumbling buildings and eerie streets. The city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and efforts are underway to preserve its remaining structures and artifacts.

Visitors can wander through the city's empty streets, exploring its abandoned schools, churches, and homes. The city's old theater, with its ornate balconies and peeling paint, is a particularly popular attraction.

For those interested in the history of mining and industrialization, Humberstone offers a unique glimpse into the past, and a cautionary tale about the consequences of unchecked resource extraction.

The Future of Humberstone

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Humberstone is likely to remain open to visitors for the foreseeable future. Efforts to preserve the city's remaining structures and artifacts will continue, ensuring that future generations can learn from its history and appreciate its unique cultural heritage.

Despite the challenges of preserving an abandoned city in the harsh desert environment of northern Chile, Humberstone remains a popular destination for tourists and history buffs alike, and a fascinating example of the impact of human activity on the built environment.

9. The Creepy Castle of Sammezzano

Located in the Tuscan hills of Italy, the Castle of Sammezzano is a magnificent Moorish-style palace that has been abandoned for over 20 years. The castle was built in the 19th century by a wealthy Spanish nobleman, and was later used as a hotel and luxury resort.

The castle's ornate interior is decorated with vibrant colors, intricate tile work, and exotic motifs, making it a unique example of Orientalist architecture. However, the castle has been left to deteriorate for decades, and its once-magnificent interior now lies in ruins.

Despite its dilapidated state, the castle continues to draw visitors who are intrigued by its eerie beauty and haunted reputation. Some say that the castle is home to ghosts and spirits, while others are simply captivated by its mysterious allure.

The Creepy Castle of Sammezzano

The History of Sammezzano

The Castle of Sammezzano was built in the late 19th century by the Spanish nobleman, Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d'Aragona. Inspired by his travels in the Middle East and North Africa, Ximenes designed the castle to reflect the vibrant colors and intricate tile work of Moorish architecture.

After Ximenes' death, the castle was used as a hotel and luxury resort for many years, hosting famous guests such as composer Giuseppe Verdi and Italian statesman Giuseppe Garibaldi. However, the castle fell into disrepair in the 1990s, and has been abandoned ever since.

Exploring Sammezzano

Although the castle is not open to the public, visitors can still explore its exterior and surrounding gardens. The castle's unique Moorish-style architecture, complete with domes and minarets, makes it a striking sight amidst the rolling hills of Tuscany.

However, those who venture inside the castle do so at their own risk. The castle's interior is in a state of severe disrepair, with crumbling walls and floors, and is not safe for visitors to enter.

The Future of Sammezzano

Efforts are underway to restore the Castle of Sammezzano to its former glory, with plans to transform it into a luxury hotel and cultural center. However, progress has been slow, due to the castle's complex ownership structure and the high cost of restoration.

Despite the challenges, many people remain hopeful that the castle will be restored and opened to the public in the near future, allowing visitors to once again experience the eerie beauty and haunting atmosphere of this unique architectural masterpiece.

10. The Mysterious Ruins of Tikal

The Mysterious Ruins of Tikal are one of the most intriguing abandoned cities in the world. Located deep in the jungle of Guatemala, Tikal was once a thriving metropolis of the ancient Maya civilization. Its impressive architecture, advanced engineering, and artistic achievements continue to astound visitors today.

Tikal was rediscovered by archaeologists in the mid-20th century, having been lost to the jungle for centuries. Despite the years of neglect, the ruins have survived remarkably well, and today they offer visitors a glimpse into the past of one of the most sophisticated civilizations in history.

The city is characterized by its towering pyramids, expansive plazas, and intricate carvings. The most famous structure in Tikal is the Temple of the Great Jaguar, which rises to a height of 47 meters (154 feet) above the jungle floor. The temple is adorned with elaborate carvings depicting the great ruler who commissioned its construction.

The Mysterious Ruins of Tikal

Visitors to Tikal are often struck by the sheer size and scale of the city. It is estimated that at its height, the city was home to as many as 100,000 people. The city's layout is a testament to the advanced urban planning skills of the Maya, who were able to build a complex network of roads, waterways, and agricultural systems that sustained the population.

Despite many years of study, Tikal still holds many mysteries and unanswered questions. One of the most significant puzzles is why the city was abandoned in the 10th century. Some scholars speculate that overpopulation, drought, or warfare may have played a role. Others suggest that the collapse of the Maya civilization was due to a combination of factors, including climate change and internal political instability.

Despite the enigmatic past of Tikal, the site remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in Guatemala. Visitors can explore the ruins on foot, taking in the stunning views of the surrounding jungle and marveling at the incredible feats of engineering and artistic prowess of the ancient Maya people.

In conclusion, the Mysterious Ruins of Tikal are an awe-inspiring testament to the ingenuity and creativity of the ancient Maya civilization. Despite being abandoned for centuries, the city continues to intrigue and inspire visitors from all over the world. With its fascinating history, stunning architecture, and enigmatic past, Tikal remains one of the most mysterious and captivating abandoned cities on Earth.


Abandoned cities hold a certain fascination for many people, offering a glimpse into the past and a haunting reminder of the impermanence of human civilization. From the ancient ruins of Petra to the sunken city of Baia, each of these abandoned cities has its own unique story and mysterious allure.

While some abandoned cities, such as Teotihuacan and Derinkuyu, are well-known tourist attractions, others, like Humberstone and Kolmanskop, are off the beaten path and often overlooked. However, each of these abandoned cities offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and a haunting reminder of the fragility of human civilization.

Despite their often-eerie beauty and cultural significance, many abandoned cities around the world remain at risk of being lost forever to neglect, natural disasters, and other threats. As such, it is important to continue to document and study these fascinating sites, in order to preserve them for future generations.

In conclusion, the world is filled with abandoned cities and lost civilizations, each with their own unique stories and secrets waiting to be uncovered. Whether you are a history buff, a paranormal enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of abandoned places, these forgotten cities are sure to captivate your imagination and leave you with a sense of wonder and mystery.


  1. What caused these cities to be abandoned? There are a variety of reasons why a city might be abandoned, including natural disasters, war, economic collapse, and social or political upheaval. In some cases, a city may simply become obsolete, with its inhabitants moving on to other areas.

  2. Are these abandoned cities safe to visit? Many abandoned cities are safe to visit, as long as you take necessary precautions and follow any guidelines set by local authorities or site managers. However, some sites may have hazards such as unstable structures, wild animals, or toxic materials, so it is important to do your research and be aware of any potential risks before visiting.

  3. Can you enter the buildings and structures in these abandoned cities? In some cases, it may be possible to enter buildings and structures in abandoned cities, while in others, access may be restricted for safety or preservation reasons. It is important to respect any signs or barriers and not disturb or remove any artifacts or items from the site.

  4. What efforts are being made to preserve these abandoned cities? Many abandoned cities are recognized as important cultural and historical sites and are subject to preservation efforts by local and national governments, as well as by private organizations and individuals. This may include restoration and stabilization of structures, documentation and study of the site, and tourism initiatives to promote awareness and interest in the site.

  5. Are there any risks to the surrounding environment or communities from these abandoned cities? In some cases, abandoned cities may pose environmental risks, such as contamination from hazardous materials or damage to ecosystems. Additionally, abandoned cities may attract unauthorized visitors or activities that could pose a risk to nearby communities. As such, it is important for authorities to monitor and manage these sites to minimize any potential negative impacts.

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