They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to some of the most ghostly abandoned places around the world, whoever “they” is are certainly right. You can practically feel the history oozing off the screen, from abandoned amusement parks to decaying castles, to incredible mines… these chilling abandoned places will blow your mind.
On a tiny island in the middle of the Hudson River sits the bombed-out remains of a once-grand castle. How did it get there? And why is it there in the first place? And, most important of all, how did it get so run down and beat up??
The island itself has a storied history that begins long before Bannerman Castle came to be. Some Native American tribes reportedly thought it was haunted, so anyone on the run from these tribes would hide out there. The Dutch were the next to encounter the island, and it too captured their imagination. They called it "Pollepel", which is Dutch for "wooden ladle", although there are legends that the name comes from a young girl named Polly Pell who, after falling through the ice on the Hudson River, was rescued and whisked off to the island, where she married her sweetheart. Awww.
During the American Revolution, Pollepel Island was the site of an attempt to stop the British Forces from advancing across the Hudson. They planted spears in the water around the island to damage the British ships' hulls, to no avail. After that, it spent a few years laying unused before being purchased by Francis Bannerman, who built the infamous castle which now sits in ruins on the island.
Bannerman ran a military surplus business near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and he bought the island in 1900 to use as storage for his thriving company. He had acquired so many arms that he couldn't legally keep them all within the city limits-- hence the need for the island. He designed the buildings himself and let the builders "interpret" his designs as they constructed them. While the main castle structure was used for storage, he had a smaller, more ornate structure built on top of a hill. Since it was visible from the other bank of the river, it served as sort of an advertisement for his business. His wife, who had quite the green thumb, added flowers and shrubs to the landscape.
Construction on the castle stopped when Bannerman died in 1918. After that, things started to go downhill. Two years later, a massive explosion caused by 200 pounds of shells and powder severely damaged a portion of the building. The military supply business began to struggle, and in 1950 the ferry that served the island (called the Pollepel) sank during a violent storm. After that, Bannerman's Island was essentially abandoned. In 1967, the state of New York bought the land and, after removing the arms, gave tours until another fire ravaged the island and it was placed off-limits to the public. You can, however, book a hard hat tour through the Bannerman's Castle Trust. The castle also makes a two-second appearance in Transformers: Dark of the Moon as one of the Pillars that transports Cybertron to Earth. Whatever the heck that means.
Sealand, by all accounts, seems like a decent place to live. They've got a functioning government, their own currency, passports and stamps, a sweet flag and national anthem, they're working to be more eco-friendly, and despite the lackluster economy, they've at least got their own soccer team. The only thing is, Sealand is a self-declared, not legally recognized "micronation" that resides on a WWII-era sea fort in the middle of the ocean.
The The Principality of Sealand has a long and storied history. The island fort was built during the second World War as a defense against German planes 7 nautical miles offshore-- in international waters. In 1956, HM Fort Roughs (as it was originally called) was finally decommissioned...and that was when the pirate radio era began. Jack Moore and his daughter Jane occupied the station on behalf of Wonderful Radio London, one of England's top 40 radio stations that was playing pop and rock music, which BBC Radio wouldn't air. Since pirate radio stations were on boats and forts (like Fort Roughs) in international waters, they weren't technically illegal-- until the 1967 Marine Broadcasting Offences Act. It was in that year when Major Paddy Roy Bates attacked the station and wrested control of it from other pirate radio operators, intending to start his own station.
A year later, in 1968, Paddy Roy's son Michael fired a warning shot at a worker trying to fix a navigational buoy (although Sealand's official history holds that the shot was fired during an attack by the British government). Since Michael was a British subject, he was brought to court on illegal weapons charges. However, since the Fort, which Bates was now calling "Sealand" was in international waters, the case couldn't go to trial. Sealand then officially declared itself its own country, complete with a Constitution. Then, in 1978, things started to get a little crazy.
A German lawyer named Alexander Achenbach declared himself the Prime Minister of Sealand and hired German and Dutch mercenaries to attack the fort while Bates and his wife were vacationing in England. Michael was captured during the inital attack, but managed to reclaim the fort and take the aggressors hostage, holding them for a ransom of about $35,000. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands weren't too happy with this and begged the UK to intervene, which they declined to do, since Sealand isn't technically controlled by the United Kingdom. A German diplomat from the London embassy was sent to Sealand, where he spent several weeks negotiating with Roy Paddy Bates before they reached an agreement. In Bates' mind, this meant that Germany technically recognized Sealand as an independent nation, so at least he got that out of the whole ordeal. Achenbach and fellow Sealandic rebel Gernot Pütz set up a government-in-exile in Germany, and even to this day, Achenbach's successor claims legitmate authority.
Sealand has had its ups and downs in recent years; all passports were revoked in 1997 after they were "linked to several high-profile crimes". Sealand has a population about about 50 and their economy mostly consists of booking tours, selling titles of nobility (in case anyone was wondering what I wanted for Christmas), and an offshore internet hosting facility. The country went up for sale in 2007 for a hefty $906 million, but there were no takers (despite the fact that Swedish BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay tried to buy the country after Sweden began to crack down on copyright infringement).
Sadly, in 1987, the UK expanded its territorial waters to reach 12 miles offshore, so Sealand is technically not in international waters anymore, although they maintain that they are an independent micronation to this day. At least they've mostly been left alone to their island principality-- there's no denying that their motto is at least somewhat true: E Mare Libertas (from the sea, freedom).
Originally built in the 1950s, the 18-acre, biblically-inspired Holy Land U.S.A. has been closed since 1984, but its catacomb replicas, Israelite village, stations of the cross and chapel remain intact, albeit in states of ruin. Although it's not open to the public, the Waterbury Region Convention and Visitors Bureau receives tons of calls a year asking for directions. Trespassers have reported experiencing paranormal occurrences.
Over the years there have been debates over the site's future. Some want it torn down, some want it restored and others want it preserved as folk art. In 1997 a bunch of Boy Scouts repaired the "Holy Land USA" sign as a community service project. Archbishop Henry Mansell replaced the original 56-foot cross with a 50-ft stainless steel one in 2008. In July, 2010 tragedy struck the abandoned park when a 16-year old girl was raped and murdered inside it. The park remains closed, and trespassing is prohibited, but since the grounds remain intact, every now and then, a brave soul will sneak in for a totally epic photoshoot.
They say that God is everywhere, but the last thing you probably would expect to find while snorkeling in Key Largo's coral reefs is Jesus. Literally, a larger-than-life statue of the Son of God, tucked away among the grass and rocks of the reef. The statue, known as the Christ of the Deep or the Christ of the Abyss, has been guarding the delicate and beautiful coral reefs of John Pennekamp State Park since the 1960s.
The statue in Florida isn't the only Christ of the Deep-- it isn't even the original! In 1954, Italian diver Duilio Marcante had the idea to cast a bronze statue of Jesus to place in the water near where Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use scuba gear, died. Sculptor Guido Galleti helped him cast and sink the statue, where it remained until 2003, when it underwent some maintenance and cleaning, since it was missing a hand and was suffering from corrosion-- it was replaced in 2004. The original clay mold was discovered in 1993 after being lost for many years-- it's on display in a museum that's located on dry land, for the non-scuba trained among us to visit.
The second Christ of the Deep was donated to the country of Grenada by the navy of Genoa to thank the country for helping to rescue the crew of an Italian ship, the Bianca C, that caught fire while docked in Grenada. That statue was sunk just off the coast of St. George's in 1961.In 1962, the Underwater Society of America was given a Christ of the Deep as well. It was on display at Chicago's Navy Pier for a little bit, and then it was sent to Florida to be sunk in the reef. You can spot it while snorkeling in the reef, or get more up close to it by scuba diving down-- just make sure not to touch it, no matter how tempting it may be, because that can seriously hurt the fragile coral that the statue has supported. Otherwise, enjoy snorkeling through the holy waters!
The Buzludzha monument, also known as the ‘House-Monument of the Bulgarian Communist Party’, was created to be a meeting place for the communist regime, but it ended up looking more like a giant flying saucer landed in the Balkan Mountains. The gigantic concrete saucer sits at an altitude of 1441 meters above sea level, above one of the most inhospitable peaks in the area. That might have something to do with why it’s abandoned.
At the time of its construction, Michigan's Central Station was the tallest rail station in the world, but now it simply decays, another victim of Detroit’s struggling economy.
Discovery Island is an 11.5 acre island in Bay Lake at Walt Disney World, Florida. Between 1974 and 1999, the island was open to guests, but it now sits abandoned, reachable only by boat. The island was recently explored by a few adventurers who found lots of cages, lots of dead things in jars, and loads of baby vultures. Rumor has it, the island was officially closed thanks to a deadly virus infecting guests.
Opened in 1928, this incredibly cliffside hotel was created to cater wealthy travelers visiting the Tequendama Falls area. The hotel offered breathtaking views of the adjacent waterfall and a lavish setting, but when the Bogotá river was contaminated, tourism took a steep decline and the hotel was forced to shut it’s doors in the early 90′s It sat abandoned ever since. Numerous suicides over the years have resulted in many visitors leaving convinced that the hotel is haunted. But good news! The Hotel Salto del Tequendama has been converted into a museum.
City Hall, also known as City Hall Loop, was the original southern terminal station of the first line of the New York City Subway, built by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), named the “Manhattan Main Line”, and now part of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. Opened on October 27, 1904, this station underneath the public area in front of City Hall was designed to be the showpiece of the new subway.
The station was designed by Rafael Guastavino. The main consulting architects on the IRT stations were George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge for the company Heins & LaFarge. This station is unusually elegant in architectural style, and is unique among the original IRT stations, employing Romanesque Revival architecture.
The platform and mezzanine feature Guastavino tiles, skylights, colored glass tile work and brass chandeliers. Passenger service was discontinued on December 31, 1945, making it a ghost station, although the station is still used as a turning loop for 6 trains.
Occasionally, the station is known to be used as the location of wild parties thrown by secret societies. Got an invite?