They say a picture speaks a thousand words, and these incredible photographs of abandoned buildings and ghost towns prove the old adage beyond a doubt. In this article, the viewer is transported on a journey through the history of these abandoned houses – some of it physical, some left to the imagination.
There is no doubt that this abandoned mansion was once an upscale property and the home of an important – or at least well-to-do – person. But chances are the photographer had no idea just who that person was before he snapped these evocative photographs.
Whoever lived in this house appears to have left in a hurry, as the former owner’s property is still extant to this day. Light passing through the translucent curtain creates a great scene for photographer Craig Finlay to maximise on. The forlorn-looking child’s tricycle suggests a young family once lived here, while the overgrown garden now looks like the land time forgot.
The owner’s identity was finally revealed by a multitude of black and white photographs, all showing one man at various political events. Craig Finlay deduced this was the home of Takieddin el-Solh, Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1973-74, and again briefly in 1980. The binders were full of political documents and voter lists. Takieddin clearly abandoned his home swiftly after Syria demanded that he live out his days in Paris. Finding relics of former occupants is not a rare thing in urban exploration, but stumbling across a former prime minister’s abandoned mansion is surely a once in a lifetime discovery.
Abandoned Houses in Ontario, Canada
Abandoned mansions and houses are not a rare phenomenon, but they are found in abundance across the rural plains of North America. The continent is so vast that once natural resources are exhausted or family farms abandoned, buildings are often left derelict for many years – often untouched due to isolation. The lonely farm above is a typical example.
Churches are another regular victim of abandonment when the communities they serve move on. The church above, standing amid long grass, is remarkably well preserved for an abandoned building. Happily, the vandals appear to have left it to rest in peace. The farm houses, on the other hand, don’t look quite so fortunate.
The house above may be long abandoned but astonishingly the Christmas lights on the porch have remained intact. Can we assume that the vandals who ransacked the house are either not particularly festive or have some sort of hidden respect for the Yuletide season?
Abandoned on the Luderitz Peninsula, Namibia
The town of Luderitz was founded in 1883 as a trading post on land purchased on behalf of Adolf Luderitz, of Bremen in Germany. In 1909 diamonds were discovered at Luderitz, which led to a surge of prosperity for the town, but this didn’t last and today many of the buildings lie abandoned and forgotten. The remains of a Norwegian whaling station – dating back to 1914 – also stands on the peninsula, a rusty ruin today.
The cross above stands on Dias Point, 22km south of Luderitz. It takes its name from the Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias, and is a replica of a cross Dias erected on the same spot on 12th March, 1488 after rounding the Cape of Good Hope.
Kolmanskop Ghost Town, Namibia
Just outside Luderitz is the ghost town of Kolmanskop – another hangover from the diamond rush that once consumed the region. Today the abandoned buildings are plagued by the unforgiving desert winds and shifting sands, which have now all but consumed their interiors (below).
While Kolmanskop was occupied, metal screens were cleverly utilised to protect houses from the sand, and pretty gardens flourished as a result. But in the 1950s the residents moved out and today it’s hard to imagine that these houses once stood along neat roads flanked by foliage.
Remarkably, the old bowling club at Kolmanskop remains intact. Skittles still stand at the end of the alleys, while an old plaque still hangs on the wall (below). As with Prime Minister Takieddin’s house (above), it’s incredible how dusty old possessions left behind in long abandoned buildings can tell us all we need to know about the people who once lived within them.