Vanishing cities

Looking around your city, it may be hard to imagine that there might be a time when it no longer exists. But that’s exactly what happened to these communities. Read on to learn all about the fires, floods, disasters and unsolved mysteries that led to these cities no longer existing.

East Berlin, Germany

The Soviet sector of Berlin was established in 1945 and existed until 1990. The Wall that divided it from West Berlin became a symbol of the evils of communism to the rest of the world until it finally fell in 1989. Today, a united Berlin is the largest city and capital of Germany. Berlin has also earned the distinction of being deemed one of the most honest cities in the world.

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island was formerly one of the most populated cities in the world. The 6 hectare island provided jobs to more than 5000 people, many of whom made their living at the island’s underwater coal mines. When the mines were closed, Hashima Island was abandoned. Today it is nothing but dilapidated high rises and forgotten buildings as evidenced in these pictures of Hashima Island.

Consonno, Italy

Consonno was a tiny town with a population of less than 300 and roots dating back to the middle ages. The residents made their living harvesting crops like chestnuts and celery. Then Mario Bagno came along and decided to turn the area into the Las Vegas of Italy and planned on calling it the City of Toys. He demolished nearly every building and set to work on building his masterpiece. Then disaster struck: in 1976 a landslide buried the access road and the project was never finished. Today, Consonno has been abandoned.

Little America, Antarctica

Little America was the name of not one, but five different postal outposts in Antarctica. The first was established in 1933 and the last, in 1958. Where did they go? The answer is as unique as Antarctica itself. One by one, they floated out to sea. If the glaciers continue to melt, that could spell disaster for Antarctica.

Eastern Settlement, Greenland

Eastern Settlement in Greenland isn’t just an abandoned city, it’s also a mystery. Once the most populated area in Greenland, the area was abandoned and no one knows why. The last known writings from the area pertained to a wedding in 1408 and offered no clues.

Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii was once a resort town in Italy where wealthy Romans spent their vacations. In 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the city under ash. It was all but forgotten until 1800 years later when archaeologists found the city that remained intact beneath the rubble.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Today Machu Picchu is on the bucket list of dream trips for many travellers, but there was a time it was an Incan city spanning over eight kilometres. Historians believe it was a religious or royal site but the city’s origins are largely mysterious. Machu Picchu was abandoned in the early 1500s around the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. Since archaeologists haven’t discovered evidence the area was attacked, many speculate the population could have been wiped out by a smallpox epidemic.

Troy, Turkey

Troy was rendered immortal in Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad. For many years, the Troy of Ancient Greece was merely the stuff of legend but in the 1800s its location was discovered in what is now Turkey. The site contains layers of ruins archaeologists are still studying.

Bannack, Montana

Gold was discovered at the site that became Bannack in 1862 and the city that sprung up around the ensuing boom briefly served as the capital of the Montana territory. Like many cities built during the gold rush, Bannack is now a ghost town. The location and old buildings have been preserved as a state park for visitors who want to experience a little bit of history.

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Komanskop was once an affluent mining village that owed its riches to the world’s never-ending need for diamond engagement rings. After World War II, the diamonds became increasingly scarce and by the 1950s the mine was depleted. With no way to earn a living, the residents eventually moved away and the abandoned city is now a tourist attraction.

Hallsands, United Kingdom

The people in the small town of Hallsands were minding their business one evening in 1917 when the entire village – save for one house – collapsed and fell into the sea. The residents were left homeless and rebuilt elsewhere. Today the remains of the village of Hallsands are under the sea.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Centralia was a tiny town whose residents relied on coal mining to make their living. Then in 1962, a fire made its way into a coal seam – and has continued to burn for 50 years. In 1981 a young boy was almost killed falling through a sinkhole caused by the fire, prompting congress to buy out the remaining residents to give them the means to relocate.

There were a few holdouts, leading the state of Pennsylvania to condemn all the remaining buildings and strip Centralia of its postcode in 1992 to encourage the remaining residents to move. Despite this, a church still stands in Centralia and is open to all who seek a place to worship.

San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico

San Juan Parangaricutiro was a thriving community until the Paricutin volcano erupted in 1943, covering the city in lava and ash. The volcano continued to erupt for eight years, completely decimating all except the tower and altar of the city’s church. Today, the half-buried church is a major tourist attraction.