With Halloween approaching, my thoughts turned from the usual most interesting ways to murder someone (for fictional purposes only) to my second favourite thing to get excited about – abandoned locations. There’s something about the inherent beauty of a decaying hotel, the earthy scent of long forgotten cellars, the colourful spray paint spelling out equally colourful vocabulary on crumbling brick walls that gets my heart racing.
Is it the distant echo of a long forgotten past reverberating down empty corridors, or the spine-tingling sensation of some ethereal being looking out through grime-obscured windows that does it for urban explorers and ghost hunters alike? Or the sense of history on the cusp of being lost that inspires documentation of these often disregarded time capsules?
I suspect it’s all of these things plus a sense of romanticism, and reminiscence that subconsciously makes us remember our own mortality. Either way, I thought it might be fun to share my top 5 abandoned locations which may or may not be haunted.
1: Poveglia Island – not open for tourists which scuppers my plans of visiting but I’ll settle for the time being on repeatedly watching the episode of Ghost Adventures in which the crew take on this abandoned plague island. Located in the Venetian lagoon, Northern Italy, this wonderful island has had a colourful and poignant history having twice been used as a quarantine station. In the 1920’s some of the existing buildings were also converted into an asylum for the mentally unstable.
2: Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Kentucky, USA is purportedly one of the most haunted (if not the most haunted) place on earth. Originally a wooden construction, the imposing brick hospital was constructed in 1924 and opened in 1926. A self-contained community for patients with tuberculosis, Waverly Hills was closed in the early sixties after a treatment for TB rendered it obsolete. It was reopened as a Geriatric Sanitarium where alleged patient abuse caused it to close twenty years later.
3: Pripyat in the Ukraine is a city abandoned after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, a real glimpse of what the world would be like post an apocalypse. A much photographed landmark is the Ferris wheel located in the amusement park, see http://news.distractify.com/culture/arts/the-most-spectacular-abandoned-places-in-the-world/ and check out this website further for its collection of breathtaking images of some of the most haunting abandoned locations in the world including an underwater city, abandoned railway stations and an auditorium that opened on the same day the Titanic sunk.
4: West Park Mental Hospital in the UK, see http://www.abandoned-britain.com/PP/westpark/1.htm for some amazing images, was opened in 1923. With beds still remaining in some of the wards, paintings still visible on the walls of the hospital’s nursery, and a burned out ballroom you can’t help but feel the presence of the many people who once walked within its walls.
5: Chadderton Swimming Baths, UK – a derelict Art Deco swimming pool – was opened in 1937 and closed in 2006. I stumbled across this location whilst perusing 28 Days Later, http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/, my favourite Urban Exploration site and the source of much inspiration when I’m sketching out locations for my novels. There’s something about abandoned swimming baths I find interesting, I guess its the amazing architecture and the fact they have been visited by numerous people who I almost imagine I can see and hear hurtling off the tiled side into the water, screaming with delight. For more images of heart-wrenchingly beautiful decaying public baths check out http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2476434/ and you’ll see what I mean.
Abandoned asylums, abandoned hospitals, abandoned hotels; abandoned fairgrounds and amusement parks, theaters and swimming baths; ruins underwater and ruins underground; derelict locations which look best from the air; crumbling, peeling, contemporary archeology. There is plenty of inspiration in the derelict and decaying debris of recent past human existence to keep a writer in location ideas for more than one lifetime.