Thanks to worsening agricultural conditions, a landslide (1963), flooding (1972), and an earthquake (1980), this once prosperous southern Italian hill town is now uninhabited. It is a popular filming location, however, and appeared in The Passion of the Christ and Quantum of Solace.
A few miles from the port of Lüderitz, Kolmanskop became a thriving mining village after Zacharias Lewala, a worker, discovered a diamond there in 1908. Residents built houses and other amenities (including a hospital, ballroom, skittle alley, casino, and ice factory) in the architectural style of a German town, as well as Africa’s first tram and the southern hemisphere’s first X-ray station. It fell into decline after the First World War, when its diamond fields became depleted, and was.
Another ghost village with a torrid history. Belchite – in the province of Zaragoza – was the site of fierce fighting in the summer of 1937 between General Franco’s troops and the Spanish Republican Army. A new village was built a couple of years later – not far from the ruins of the old one, which were left standing as a memorial to the conflict. The town appears in both The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Pan’s Labyrinth.
“Nowadays we live in an age of pop-up shops but during the Gold Rush in Nevada it was an era of pop-up towns,” says The Telegraph’s David Millward. “Settlements mushroomed as thousands came west to seek their fortune. But as fast as they grew they disappeared, leaving derelict buildings and at times complete ghost towns.” Rhyolite, a two-hour drive from Vegas, is one. “It grew at an astonishing rate after two prospectors – Shorty Harris and Ed Cross – discovered gold in 1904,” said David. “Word travelled fast. Thousands staked claims and according to the 1910 US census, the population had soared to 7,523. The people left, but the ruins of the buildings remain in a patch of desert close to the California border and only a few miles from Death Valley. The shell of the splendid Cook Bank – built in 1908 for $90,000 (more than $2 million today) – is perhaps the most impressive of the structures. The safe remains in place even if the roof and many of the walls have.