Abandoned places are cool; this is a fact. Some are creepy, others are romantic, or even mysterious — but they’re all very cool. And these 20 abandoned places in Europe are the absolute coolest:
1. Tunnel of Love — Klevan, Ukraine
This green, beautiful 3km-long tunnel in a forest in western Ukraine is used by a single private train that supplies a local factory with wood. The tunnel is a favourite spot for couples to go for walks, as it’s said that if their love is sincere, their wishes will be granted.
2. Craco — Craco, Italy
After several landslides and earthquakes, the villagers of Craco were forced to move somewhere else for their own safety. Nowadays, the ghost town is very popular with tourists and filmmakers who love to make the most of the town’s breathtaking scenery.
3. Spreepark — Berlin, Germany
How cool and creepy does an abandoned amusement park sound like? In 2002, the owner of the park moved six of its main attractions to Peru, under the state’s presumption that these were going for repairs. However, the owner had plans to open a new park in Lima, and soon after Spreepark became insolvent. Since then, the amusement park has been abandoned and is popular with urban explorers — especially its ferris wheel.
4. Canfranc Station — Canfranc, Spain
When it was first opened in 1928, Canfranc International Railway Station was the epitome of Art Nouveau. The main station for the line that connected France and Spain by rail then became associated with the Nazis during the war, as they used it to transport gold out of France, and Tungsten the opposite way.
The railway, and thus the station, met its demise when, in 1970, a derailment caused a bridge on the French side of the border to fall. The French opted not to rebuild it, so the line’s use halted abruptly. Nowadays, the station’s main building is abandoned but had its roof replacement not too long ago.
5. Varosha — Famagusta, Cyprus
In the early 70s, Varosha, a district of Famagusta, was one of the world’s top tourist destinations, with several celebrities spending time there in the summer. However, when the Turkish invaded Cyprus in 1974, the citizens of Famagusta all fled to safer areas, leaving Varosha completely abandoned — mostly because the Turkish army had fenced the whole district off.
6. Reschensee — Graun, Italy
To those who don’t know the history of Lake Reschen, this bell tower will look very out of place. The truth is, the whole village of Graun is submerged under this artificial lake near the border between Italy and Austria. In the winter months, when the lake freezes over, you can walk up to the bell tower.
7. Chatterley Whitfield Colliery — Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Abandoned coal mines are pretty easy to find across the UK, especially around the midlands and in Wales. But some stand out from the rest. Chatterley Whitfield Colliery, on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, is quite a sight to behold. Used to mine for coal from 1863 all the way to 1974, Chatterley Whitfield was the first coal mine to produce 1,000,000 tonnes of coal in a year. After the mining stopped, the mine was used as a museum, but was ultimately shut down in 1993. It’s been abandoned since then.
8. Petite Ceinture — Paris, France
Did you know that there’s an abandoned railway circling Paris? The Chemin de Fer de Petite Ceinture was built in 1852 to connect the Parisian railway terminals within the city’s fortified walls. Most of the line is abandoned today, but small sections of it have been reused for other railway purposes. Those who venture along the Petite Ceinture describe it as a quiet, natural garden space within the city of light.
9. Kirby Hall — Gretton, England
Owned by Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth I, Kirby Hall is now a shadow of its former self. Based on the French architecture of its day, constructions began in 1570 in this village near Leicester, and lasted for a few decades. Nowadays, most of the building’s rooms are roofless, but the Great Room and state rooms remain largely intact. You might recognise Kirby Hall, as several films and TV series have been shot outside the building.
10. Hartwood Mental Hospital — Hartwood, Scotland
Built in 1890 as an institution for the mentally ill, Hartwood Mental Hospital might be mistaken for a medieval castle with its two imposing clock towers. Still the main feature of the village of Hartwood, the psychiatric hospital closed in 1998 and was then used as a TV studio until 2002. Since then, the hospital has been deteriorating and even suffered a fire in 2004, which burned down some of its roofs and part of the western clock tower.
11. Croix-Rouge — Paris, France
Once the terminal station for Paris’ metro line 10, the Croix-Rouge had a short-lived history as a metro station. Built in 1923, the station was only used up until 1939, when France joined WWII. After the war ended, the station was never reopened due to its proximity to the Sèvers-Babylone station, and has since been popular with urban explorers seeking Paris’ secret spots.
12. Residencial Francisco Hernando — Seseña, Spain
Not all abandoned structures were built years and years ago. When the property bubble burst back in 2008, the Spanish real estate market came tumbling down along with the world’s economy. There is no bigger evidence of this than the Francisco Hernando estates in Seseña, just south of Madrid. The 9 billion dollar project for a 13,500 unit estate never had many inhabitants, and is now a gigantic ghost town.
13. Restaurante Panorâmico — Lisbon, Portugal
This old restaurant was built by the Lisbon Council in 1968. Sitting in the middle of the Monsanto Forest Park, Panorâmico is said to have the best view of Lisbon. Despite being in quite a derelict state, you can still see some of the original artworks decorating the place, including some Portuguese tiles by Manuela Madureira.
14. Teufelsberg — Berlin, Germany
Everyone, get your tinfoil hats out for this one! Built on top of an artificial hill made out of the rubble from Berlin’s streets after WWII, this abandoned tower was one of the NSA’s largest listening towers in the world throughout the Cold War. After the NSA left, a group of private investors bought the facilities off the capital’s council and had plans to renovate it, but this never came to be.
15. Beelitz-Heilstätten — Beelitz, Germany
The Beelitz-Heilstätten Sanatorium was one of the biggest hospital complexes in its heydey. Built in three phases over the course of the first three decades of the 20th century, the sanatorium also became a hospital for wounded soldiers during both world wars, and then up until the fall of the Soviet Union. Some of Beelitz’s buildings will look familiar, as they were used for shooting Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, and Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie. Nowadays, some of the complex’s buildings have been renovated, but most of them are still abandoned.
16. Krampnitz Military Base — Potsdam, Germany
An abandoned Nazi and Soviet military base, you say? Cool! Every room you see will have some indication of Krampnitz’s past. First built by the Nazis in 1937 as an Army Riding and Driving School for its growing army, the Soviets then moved in as soon as WWII was over, where they remained till 1992. Since then, the entire complex has been abandoned but has become a hotspot for urban explorers, and a movie location favourite — a scene from “Inglorious Basterds” was shot here.
17. Human Zoo — Paris, France
As you can imagine from its name, the Human Zoo has quite a grim past. Present in several European capitals and in the USA in a time where racism was widespread, these zoos served as a place for the “common white man” to see people from all around the world exhibited in their “natural habitats”.
The Parisian Human Zoo, in particular, was built in 1907 and featured six different “villages” representing the extent of the French colonies. People from Madagascar, Indochina, Sudan, Congo, Tunisia and Morocco were all ripped away from their homes to be brought over to Paris as zoo exhibits. Nowadays, the zoo is seen as a stain in France’s history. Left abandoned, the Vincennes woods are taking over the “villages”, which are occasionally visited by urban explorers.
18. City Baths — Durham, England
Opened in 1932 to replace an older swimming pool complex, the Durham City Baths remained open up until 2008, when they were already in a desolate state. This hasn’t stopped urban explorers from visiting the premises, though, as it’s one of the biggest urbex hotspots in this area of the UK.
19. Tropicana — Rotterdam, The Netherlands
The Tropicana leisure resort in Rotterdam was one of those places that just tried to be too much at the same time. Built in 1988 as a Sauna, Beauty Centre, Party Centre, and Club, the place enjoyed a spell of good times during the 90s. But then people stopped coming. Tropicana then changed hands several times, with the new owners trying to reestablish it as the cool place to go, but to no avail. In 2010, Tropicana closed the last of its still-running rooms.
20. Circuit Reims-Gueux — Reims, France
Not much of the original circuit is left, but there’s still plenty to see at the Circuit Reims-Gueux. Once the scene of Formula 1 battles down its two long straights, the circuit held the last of its races all the way back in 1972. The longest straight was then converted into a dual carriageway, and other parts of the circuit were demolished, but the best part, the pit lane, was left untouched. Walking along the pit is like walking into the past, with adboards from the 60s and all!
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Have you been to any of these abandoned places in Europe before? Do you know of any others? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.