Abandoned is mostly certainly beautiful in the way nature attempts to take it back.
There’s an obvious sense of excitement and rebellion that goes with sneaking onto such sites, through broken fences and unlocked doors or in some cases when accompanied by a guide who knows exactly what they’re doing. I’ve personally always been fascinated by abandoned sites and the mysteries I perceive them to hold. Nerves, blood pumping, the not knowing what’s next to come, visiting sites like the below are such a rush - and of course make for a great story (and Instagram story if that’s your thing).
Spreepark– Berlin (Germany)
The set of the final, pulse racing scene of the Hollywood hit Hanna, Spreepark is one of a number of abandoned theme parks around the world which you kind of want to visit because theme parks generally exude feelings of fun, excitement and joy, but which once abandoned also assume the role of a mass haunted house, or a scene from the Walking Dead.
Originally opened as KulturparkPlänterwald in 1969, the Spreepark as it is now known came into existence in 1989 and took the direction of a Western-style amusement park, and attracted an impressive 1.5m visitors per annum. However, around 1999 visitor numbers started to fall, the park was in debt and a lack of parking spaces combined with an increase in ticket prices was not well received by the paying public. Come 2001, insolvency. Come 2002 and some of the more impressive amusements were shipped to Chile along with the former owners, although theirnewly planned Lunapark based in Lima never took off, and the former Spreepark owner Norbert Witte was later sentenced to seven years in prison for attempted smuggling of narcotics.
Ever since 2002 the park has remained closed, but that hasn’t stopped people sneaking past security patrols to take in what used to be a bustling amusement park. Those security patrols are employed by the city of Berlin, who bought the park, and are rumoured to be planning to re-open Spreepark in the not too distant future. Maybe this one won’t stay abandoned for too much longer.
Photo source - flickr.com - mario_storch
Bobsleigh track – Sarajevo (Bosnia)
Sarajevo, the (now beautiful) war torn capital of Bosnia and former host to the Winter Olympics.
It was just over 30 years ago now that Bosnia and Sarajevo welcomed Olympians from around the globe to their snow caped mountains and top spec facilities. Today it is still possible to ski or snowboard on the Olympic mountains of Jahornia and Bjelasnica.
However, as with an alarming number of Olympic sites and venues from past games (both summer and winter), once the competition for medals is over, those venues struggle to find uses. This is true of the Sarajevo bobsleigh track which sits just 5km outside the city centre, atop mount Trabevic. Whereas once it played host to streamline sleds, hurtling down and around its corners at speed, today the track is a home for graffiti artists and travellers like me who get a kick out of man-made structures which are now overtaken by nature. Added to that the track is now also quite popular with daredevil mountain bikers who race down the track in a similar fashion to the bobsleigh riders back in 1984.
Photo source - www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk
Craco – Craco (Italy)
Earthquakes and landslides do not make stable living conditions. Built high up on a rocky hillside to provide protection from invaders, Craco and its residents were victims of nature and the ground upon which they stood.
A beautiful medieval town and once a home to thousands, Craco was simply too unsafe to live in and in 1963 the mass moving out of some 1800 inhabitants began.
Despite the earthquake, Craco still stands, looking out from its lofty position over the stunning Basilicata region. Visits can be arranged, but you can only venture inside if you are led by an expert guide and if wearing the correct safety gear.
Photo source - www.backpacksandbunkbeds.co.uk
Buzludzha - Stara Zagora (Bulgaria)
Located in the Shipka Pass, roughly a 3 hour drive from the capital of Sofia lies the Buzludzha, an old and pretty unique looking communist headquarters.
Sitting proudly atop a 1441m peak, this building more resembles a UFO than a meeting place of faded regimes. But’s that what it was, a meeting place for the Bulgarian Communist Party, who felt this area of the country the right place to build and open their headquarters (1981). Why? Well it was because Mount Buzludzha was where, after having reclaimed their land after 500 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire that socialist philosophers met in secret to lay the foundations of what later was to become the Bulgarian Communist Party.
What can you see nowadays? Well to start off there are the view of the mountain. Added to that is an incredible amount of political art. Access to the inside of the UFO is technically now closed off, but from what I heard and read, if there’s a will there’s a way. Even from the outside though this is an interesting and intriguing structure, located in a stunning part of a wonderful country.
Photo source - flickr.com - jonathantaylorbulgaria
Airplane yard – Bangkok (Thailand)
I’ve never been, but I would just love to explore this place, crawl through all the old technology that once carried passengers across the skyto far away destinations. Sit in cockpit, even sit in what remains of first class (probably the only chance I’ll ever get to experience first class) and just generally be an aviation nerd.
Rumour has that Bangkok’s airplane graveyard sprung up around 2010. How exactly a site like this ‘springs up’ I do not know, but while presumably the aircraft have been stripped for parts and what occupies the graveyard might be considered scrap by most, to some it is still a goldmine, or moreover a roof overhead, a place to live, a home. Yep people now live here, so if you do visit a) pay them a little respect and do not go charging in if the curtains a drawn and there appear to be signs of life, and b) they may well offer you one of the most interesting guided tours you’ve ever been on, as of course they know the airplane graveyard best.
Photo source - flickr.com - sheila_dee
Paronella Park – Mission Beach (Australia)
We owe Paronella Park to a gent by the name of José Paronella, who arrived in Australia from Catalonia in Spain back in 1913, where he worked for a decade before returning to Spain to wedMargarita in 1925. His honeymoon was of course spent back in Oz, where he and his wife stayed, bought land and then set about building themselves incredible gardens, which they allowed the public to visit and enjoy. A grand home .. a castle!
The land, gardens and the family home were all passed down to the couple’s children and then grandchildren, until in 1977 it was sold out of the family. Sadly, just 2 years later in 1979 a great fire swept through the castle and with that the park was closed to the public for the first time. Since the fire, the castle and its lands have also suffered floods and multiple cyclones.It’s been through the wars!
Some good news though, the park is today open again to visitors. The current owners purchased the park in 1993, seeing it as a work of art, and restoring much of it to its former glory. While the castle is no longer a home, the gardens are still a place for families to gather, even sometimes for a wedding or two.
Photo source - flickr.com - iancochrane_2011
Disclaimer: So it pretty much goes without saying that we do not condone trespassing, nor do we recommend risking life and limb just so to be able to visit an abandoned attraction. No doubt that such sites are normally quite the adventure, but be smart and play it safe. If something looks too risky or illegal to enter, it probably is.