abandoned (and impressive) cities that you need to visit

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Bodie, United States

(360 mi / 580 km from Las Vegas)

Like many American cities, Bodie was built soon after the discovery of gold in the region, in 1859, and was once the second biggest metropolis in California, after Los Angeles. Less than a century later, in the 1950s, all that was left were structures that remain preserved to this day, like a Methodist church and saloons worthy of Western movies.

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Craco, Italy

(276.5 mi / 445 km from Rome)

In over 2,500 years, Craco has served as a refuge against a plague during the Ancient Greek era and a republican resistance stronghold in the 19th century. Things changed in the 20th century, when an economic crisis was combined with natural disasters, like a landslide (1963) and an earthquake (1980). The result was a mass migration of the population, leaving behind an abandoned place that served as a location for the movie Quantum of Solace (2008).

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Villa Epecuén, Argentina

(335.5 mi / 540 km from Buenos Aires)

Up until a few decades ago, Epecuén was a destination filled with resorts, attracting up to 20,000 tourists each season with its saltwater lake. In 1985, however, rains caused a dam to break, flooding the city. Recently, the water level lowered, revealing a not so distant past with playground ruins that emerge in a slightly phantasmagorical manner.

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Humberstone and Santa Laura, Chile

(33 mi / 53 km from Iquique)

At the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, the abundance of saltpeter in the Atacama Desert attracted companies like Humberstone and Santa Laura to the region, where over 3,500 people settled. In the 1930s, however, the use of alternative materials made the community evacuate the locale. The place was turned into a historical site with a theater, school, and houses, in addition to preserved items that paint a clear picture of the era.

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Herculaneum, Italy

(141 mi / 227 km from Rome)

You’ve probably heard the story of Pompeii, the city in the Roman Empire devastated by the eruption of the Vesuvius in 79 A.D. But perhaps you haven’t heard of Herculaneum, a neighboring city that was buried by ashes from the same volcano. Rediscovered in the early 18th century, the city was excavated and maintains to this day well-preserved traces of what life was like almost 2,000 years ago, including original structures and mosaics from the 1st century.

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Sewell, Chile

(95.5 mi / 154 km from Santiago)

Built on the foot of the Andes, Sewell was born in 1905, when an American company started to extract copper from the El Teniente mine. Soon came the colorful houses, where around 15,000 people lived. But when the mineral was nationalized (between 1967 and 1971), the residents started to leave the city. In the late 1980s, its demolition was avoided and, in 2006, UNESCO declared Sewell a World Heritage Site.

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Belchite, Spain

(196 mi / 315 km from Barcelona)

The ancient Belchite remained important until the late 1930s, when it was the setting for a Spanish Civil War battle: ever since, its population (which today is 1,500) has been living in a nearby community, while the ruins of the historical village are preserved in such structures as the Iglesia de San Martín de Tours and the Torre del Reloj.