Ghost Towns of Europe

By definition, a ghost town is an abandoned town or city. Some cities become ghost towns because the economic activity that supported them has failed; others are abandoned after natural or human-caused disasters such as earthquakes, floods, or war. Ghost towns can be found all over the world, but some of them have become very famous. This is due either to being very well preserved or to the reasons which lead to their abandonment. In Europe, some of the famous ghost towns are Pompeii and Propyat (Cernobyl). But ghost towns in Europe can be found in almost every country.

The Towns

These are some of the most famous and interesting abandones towns and settlements which are definitely worth your visit.

Craco, Italy

Craco is a medieval village located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera in Italy. It is the typical hilly town , built that way for defense reasons. Due to poor agricultural conditions, inhabitants started to leave the town. Then, between 1892 and 1922 it was struck by a series of earthquakes and landslides. In 1963, the remaining inhabitants were transferred to Craco Peschiera and now Craco is uninhabited. The city can be visited but everything is crumbling and continuing to decay. Still, it is an interesting medieval town to see. The nearest airports are Bari (120 km) and Naples (250 km). You can get to Craco either by rental car or by train (the nearby Metaponto is connected to the rest of Italy). But Craco is not entirely abandoned. Its empty ghostly streets are a favorite spot for film crews. Most recently, Craco was featured in James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace", starring Daniel Craig. So for a day or more of shooting at least, it played home to 007.

Balestrino, Liguria, Italy

Balestrino is a very curious case of ghost town particularly because it’s hard to find information about the city. Records date back to the 11th century when the city was owned by the Benedictine abbey of San Pietro dei Monti. In late 19th century the area was struck by a series of earthquakes, although it’s not sure how they affected the city. Records show repairs being done in the city at about the same time. Finally, in 1953 the town was abandoned. About 400 inhabitants left moved to a safer area (to the west) where the city still exists. The easiest way to get here is from Genoa. Balestrino is located 70 km away and currently has a population of 575 people. It’s best to rent a car to explore the area.

Roghudi Vecchio, Calabria, Italy

Set within the Aspromonte mountains- rugged hills which loom over Calabria's southernmost coastline, you will find a handful of tiny villages with Ancient Greek heritage. Yet Roghudi Vecchio is a hilltop town without the chattering of locals and drifting cooking smells. It lies completely abandoned, with the remnants of crumbling houses and rotting furniture still left behind. This 'paese fantasma' (ghost town) lies within the Reggio Calabria province, accessed by a long winding road inland from the southern Ionian coast.

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