Top 10 famous abandoned buildings in the world. Photo: David Baker Photography
Top 10 famous abandoned buildings in the world. Photo: David Baker Photography

Every abandoned building has a story about how it got that way, whether it's an urban legend or the truth. Rotting, crumbling, or completely invaded by nature, abandoned buildings can be as creepy as they are fascinating.

Nothing is more haunting than a once-magnificent building that has been abandoned. While some abandoned buildings are well taken care of, some are completely rundown with their original appearance completely lost. Sometimes, abandoned buildings are even reclaimed by nature.

Here is top 10 famous abandoned buildings in the world.

The List of top 10 famous abandoned buildings in the world

10. Beelitz Military Hospital – Germany

9. Battersea Power Sation – England

8. Canfranc Rail Station – Spain

7. Chateau Miranda – Belgium

6. Olympic Bobsleigh And Luge Track - Bosnia And Herzegovina

5. Sanzhi Pod Houses – Taiwan

4. Buffalo Central Terminal - United States

3. Michigan Central Station - United States

2. Buzludzha – Bulgaria

1. Maunsell Sea Forts – England


What are the top famous abandoned buildings in the world?

10. Beelitz Military Hospital

Beelitz Heilstätten WENDELIN JACOBER (CC BY 2.0)
Beelitz Heilstätten WENDELIN JACOBER (CC BY 2.0)

Built in 1898, this disused hospital complex of approximately 60 buildings located in the district of Beelitz Heilstatten. Between 1898 and 1930 the complex served as a sanatorium for lung diseases, generally housing those with then-fatal conditions such as tuberculosis.

During the first world war it served as a field hospital that treated the earliest casualties of such new weapons as machine guns and mustard gas. During this time it also treated a young soldier by the name of Adolf Hitler, who had been blinded by a British gas attack and wounded in the leg at the Battle of the Somme (This earned him the Iron Cross).

Ironically, these experiences and his successful treatment would set the stage for the hospital to once again be used as a field hospital, treating wounded Nazi’s during WWII. Occupied by the Russians in 1945, it served as a Soviet military hospital for the next 50 years until 1995, long after the fall of the Berlin wall. The hospital treated everyone from Communist party members to the disgraced head of the East German government who was sent there after being forced out in 1990.

Today, while a few small sections of the enormous hospital are used for neurological rehabilitation and Parkinson’s research, the majority of the complex, including the surgery ward, the psychiatric ward, and a rifle range, have all been abandoned and left to decay back into the surrounding forest. In 2002 it was used as a set for the Roman Polanski film ‘The Pianist’.

As none of the complex was guarded until 2015, it was a popular place for urban exploration, drinking teenagers, and people looking to give themselves a good scare.

In 2015 the ruins were outfitted with a canopy pathway, which allows to view the ruins on every level without need to enter them. Now it’s less an adventure and more of an tourist attraction. But it hasn’t lost the charm and is now fully accessible for walking-impaired persons.

9. Battersea Power Sation

Photo: Worldabandoned
Photo: Worldabandoned

Battersea Power Station on the south bank of the River Thames, in Nine Elms in London, England is one of the world’s most iconic power stations. The building comprises two power stations, built in two stages and almost identical, creating a four-chimney structure. It was decommissioned between 1975 and 1983 and remained empty until 2014.

Up until the 1930s, power in London was produced at a number of small companies providing electricity to industry with the surplus sold to the public. Each used different standards of voltage and frequency. In 1925, it was suggested that electricity production should be nationalised. In response, a number of the smaller companies formed the London Power Company and agreed to use a uniform standard.

The London Power Company began planning for the first of a number of large power stations on the south bank of the River Thames in Battersea. The site was formerly the location of reservoirs belonging to Southwark and Vauxhall Waterworks Company and was thought to be favourable for the delivery of coal along the river.

The building was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was famed as the designer of the red telephone box and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Another of his power station designs, Bankside, now houses the Tate Modern art gallery. The design was to incorporate innovative solutions to reduce smoke and provide cleaner emissions.

Construction on the first station, Battersea A, began in March 1929. Power generation began in 1933 however the building was not completed until 1935. Six construction workers were killed in accidents on site during construction. Work on Battersea B was delayed as a result of World War II and began soon after. It was completed in 1955 and mirrored A Station. Together, they formed the familiar four-chimney design. The 509 megawatts generating capacity provided a fifth of London’s electricity needs. By this time, electric power generation in the UK had been nationalised and Battersea Power Station had come under the ownership of the British Electricity Authority.

8. Canfranc Rail Station – Spain


IN 1928, THE CANFRANC INTERNATIONAL Railway Station was the biggest rail station in Europe, and was the centerpiece of a railway between France and Spain. Glamorous and over the top, the Spanish government hoped to attract rich visitors from across the continent to the station’s hotel.

Despite its grandeur, the luxurious station was overtaken by warfare, Naziism, and a train accident that forced its abandonment in 1970.

During the early points of the war, the train provided a lifeline for Jews able to escape through the railway and station, but by the early 1940s, the Nazis had taken control and a Swastika flew above the Art Nouveau station. Under Nazi control, gold plundered from murdered Jews left occupied France on the rail line bound for Portugal and Spain. After the war, Nazi war criminals slipped through allied hands on these same tracks.

During the 1950s and 1960s, after years of warfare, the station finally returned to business as usual, but the end of the station was in sight. In 1970, a huge steamer jumped the rails and crashed. No one was killed, but the wreck effectively shut down the railway. The station was slowly abandoned, beginning yet another new phase of life for the slowly decaying building.

In 1985, the abandonment, and remote location of the station, opened a new opportunity — the current and perhaps best incarnation of the old train station. With abundant space below the earth, Spanish physicists opened the Canfranc Underground Astroparticle Laboratory, with an entrance beneath the station and movable labs setup on the old railway tunnels.

Although plans to reopen the station have often been discussed, nothing definite has been settled, and the graffitied and burgled station will likely remain abandoned until its eventual decomposition or destruction.

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7. Chateau Miranda

Photo: David Baker
Photo: David Baker

Château Miranda is a neo-Gothic castle located near the small village of Celles, in the province of Namur, Belgium. The castle, also known as Château de Noisy (Noisy Castle) was, and still is, a precious pearl hidden in the hilly and forested region of the Ardennes. Unfortunately, since 1991 it has been completely abandoned. Today the castle is in a very dilapidated condition, especially its interior which is crumbling and ruined.

Although the shell of the unique fairy tale look facade still stands proudly, there are sadly no known projects for restoration of the building. In December 2013 the owners of the castle formally applied for a license to demolish and this started in October 2016 with the conical Gothic roof peaks being removed. Half of the picturesque castle has so far been demolished but for unknown reasons the project was halted and now the castle is left slowly falling down on its own. After that, its charm will remain to live only in the memories of the people. Everything has its own beginning and its own end. That is the case with Château Miranda too.

Château Miranda was originally built as a residence complex for French aristocrats who ran away from the guillotine. During the French Revolution the Liedekerke-De Beaufort family, who were politically active and loyal to the French king, were forced to leave their previous home, the Veves Castle in the Wallon region of southern Belgium. After years in hiding, they decided to built their new summer residence at this location. Construction at the property started in 1866 by the pioneering English architect Edward Milner, who was a favorite architect of the Victorian garden movement. He died while the construction was still ongoing.

The family lived in the castle until the beginning of World War II. A small amount of fighting during the Battle of the Bulge took place near the land of the castle and during which Château Miranda was occupied by German soldiers. After the war, actually, in 1950, the castle was taken over by the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS/SNCB).

In 1991 they abandoned the mansion completely. They tried to find buyers or inventors to transform the mansion into a luxury hotel, but after years of search, they could’t find any. Even the potential buyers who wanted finally to take it over were turned down at the last minute by the owners.

Since then the castle was victim to several heavy acts of vandalism. A fire in 1995 damaged a huge part of the roof and other parts of the building. The cause of the fire remains unknown and the family didn’t want to make any further investigation. The detailed ornaments and other valuable antique objects from the interior were removed and used in another mansion.

6. Olympic Bobsleigh And Luge Track

Photo: Mywanderlust
Photo: Mywanderlust

Sarajevo Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track is a bobsleigh and luge track situated on Trebević mountain overlooking the City of Sarajevo, built for the 1984 Winter Olympics.

When Sarajevo was awarded the 1984 Winter Olympics in 1977, a bobsleigh and luge track was proposed. The track design was approved in 1981, with construction starting on 1 June of that year. Assembly of the track was completed on 30 September 1982 at a cost of YUD 563,209,000. The first international competition of merit held at the track was the 1983 European Bobsleigh Championships in January of that year. At the 1984 Games, there were 20,000 luge spectators and 30,000 bobsleigh spectators. After the Winter Olympics, the track was used for World Cup competitions until the Yugoslav wars started in 1991, which included the Bosnian War the following year. The track was damaged as a result of the Siege of Sarajevo; during the siege, the track was used as an artillery position by Bosnian Serb forces. The track still remains mostly intact (as of January 2018), with the war wounds of defensive fighting holes drilled into one of the last turns of the course. The track has been used for graffiti and bicycling in the period between the end of the war and the commencement of renovations in 2014. In June 2014, restoration began on the track, including the removal of overgrowth and graffiti, and the application of a protective coating from Start 1 down to the bottom of the course. The track is currently used for summer luge training, and other summer activities.

5. Sanzhi Pod Houses

Photo: Carters News Agency
Photo: Carters News Agency

The Sanzhi UFO houses, also known as the Sanzhi pod houses or Sanzhi Pod City, were a set of abandoned pod-shaped buildings that resembled Futuro houses, the prefabricated flying saucer shaped house designed by Matti Suuronen.

The UFO houses were constructed beginning in 1978. They were intended as a vacation resort in a part of the northern coast adjacent to Danshui, and were marketed towards U.S. military officers coming from their East Asian postings. However, the project was abandoned in 1980 due to investment losses and several fatal car accidents during construction.

The buildings were scheduled to be torn down in late 2008, despite an online petition to retain one of the structures as a museum. Demolition work on the site began on 29 December 2008, with plans to redevelop the site into a tourist attraction with hotels and beach facilities.

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4. Buffalo Central Terminal

Photo: Buffalo Rising
Photo: Buffalo Rising

The Buffalo Central Terminal, built by the New York Central Railroad and designed by architects Alfred T. Fellheimer & Steward Wagner, opened to the public on June 22, 1929. At one time, this Triple-Designated Historic Art Deco station accommodated 3200+ passengers/hour and 200+ trains/day. The complex consists of the Grand Concourse measuring 450’ long, 60’ wide with 60’ vaulted Gustavino tile ceilings, 17-story office tower and the five story baggage building along Curtiss Street. The complex sits on a 18-acre site just east of downtown Buffalo and appears as a bookend to Buffalo’s Art Deco City Hall.

The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC) was founded in 1997 to oversee the stabilization and restoration of the Central Terminal when Scott Field acquired the site from Samuel Tuchman and B.C.T, Inc. for $1 plus the assumption of back taxes owed to the City of Buffalo. The Buffalo Central Terminal reopened to the public in 2003 with a series of tours and open houses. Since then the tours continue, as well as a number of other events throughout the summer and fall.

The Terminal is now undergoing major renovations but will continue with its well-attended events and has adapted the tours to a “Hard Hat” view of the historic renovations.

3. Michigan Central Station

Photo: World Abandoned
Photo: World Abandoned

Michigan Central Station in Detroit, Michigan, USA was opened in 1913 and was once the tallest railway station in the world. It was the main passenger terminal for Detroit’s rail network however as it was away from Downtown, it always struggled and the last Amtrak train departed in 1988.

In the home of the American automobile industry and with the growing dependence on travel by car, the building was a vision for public transport in Michigan. It was a hub for interurban and streetcar routes. At one stage at the beginning of World War I over 200 trains served the Michigan Central Station each day with 3000 people working onsite. During the second World War, the station saw a lot of military traffic and freight use.

One of the main problems with the station was that it was located outside the main downtown Detroit area near the Ambassador Bridge. While only 1.2km (.75 miles) away, the distance was still seen as a major issue. The initial idea had been that if the station was placed in the area, development would quickly follow. The Great Depression of the 1920s put an end to this and very quickly, getting to and from the station to anywhere in Detroit became a problem.

Eventually, amid declining passenger numbers, the owners tried to sell the station and in 1967, the restaurant, shops and main entrance were closed as they were deemed to be not financially viable. Even when Amtrak took over in 1971 and spent a considerable amount on renovation, things didn’t get a lot better and eventually the station was closed and left abandoned. A new station opened several miles away in 1994.

Michigan Central Station is just one of the many abandoned buildings in Detroit. The city suffered greatly following the economic downturn of the mid 2000s, with buildings such as Cass Technical High School and the Hotel Charlevoix falling into disuse. Abandoned buildings became a massive problem in the city with efforts now being made to re-purpose or demolish many of them.

2. Buzludzha

Photo: EIB Institute
Photo: EIB Institute

ON THE REMOTE BUZLUDZHA PEAK in the mountains of Bulgaria stands an unusual abandoned monument.

The peak itself was the site of a battle between the Bulgarians and the Turks in 1868. In 1891 a group of socialists lead by Dimitar Blagoev met on the peak to plan for Bulgaria’s socialist future.

To celebrate these events, the government in power during the height of Soviet influence decided to erect a monument commemorating socialist communism.

Work on the monument began in 1974, and was undertaken by units of the Bulgarian Army assisted by numerous artisans responsible for the large statues and murals. Large images of Lenin and Marx looked over the arena built for state functions and celebrations. Above it all blazed a red star-shaped window in honor of Soviet Russia.

After the government’s fall from power in 1989, the site was abandoned and left open to vandalism. The main entrance has been sealed and therefore closed to public. However, there is still a little way to get into the building on the right hand side of the building. Inside the Buzludzha Monument, most of the artwork has been removed or destroyed, but the concrete structure still stands against the elements.

A preservation team worked to get the monument listed as one of the seven most endangered heritage sites in Europe, and plans to preserve and restore the monuments are underway.

A guard has been put in place 24/7, so it is no longer possible to break inside. Visitors are still encouraged to visit the outside to experience the unique architecture.

1. Maunsell Sea Forts


Part of the Thames Estuary defense network, the anti-aircraft tower-forts were constructed in 1942, with each fort consisting of a cluster of seven stilted buildings surrounding a central command tower. When operational, catwalks connected the buildings. Built on land and then transported to their watery homes, the forts were designed by Guy Maunsell, a British civil engineer, later known for innovations in concrete bridge design. Originally there were three of these forts, but only two are left standing: the Redsands Fort and the Shivering Sands Fort.

After their successful wartime career, the forts were decommissioned in the 1950s. The Nore Army Fort was badly damaged by both a storm and being struck by a ship and was dismantled in 1959-60. In the 1960s and 70s, the remaining abandoned forts were famously taken over as pirate radio stations. The micro nation Principality of SeaLand occupies a nearby Navy fort of a different design known as the Roughs Tower, also built by Maunsell. All of the army forts are now abandoned.

In 2003, the Project Redsands organization was formed with the aim of protecting and possibly restoring the Redsands Fort, chosen over Shivering Sands due to its better state of preservation. More recently, the Shivering Sands Fort was occupied by the artist Stephen Turner for 36 days in 2005, roughly the same amount of time a WWII serviceman would have spent at the fort. He described the project as an experiment in isolation and wrote a blog and a book about the project. In 2008 The Prodigy filmed a music video at Redsands.

According to Underground Kent, an organization dedicated to exploring and documenting the military installations in Kent: “Access for the men posted to these forts was via an entrance at the base of the platform. Parts of the ladders that the men would have used are still visible today but are in a very poor condition. Indeed, attempting to access these forts is extremely hazardous, and they are best viewed from a boat and a safe distance.”

The forts are now in varying states of decay, and attempting to enter them is probably ill-advised, if not illegal. They can be seen by boat or, on a clear day, from Shoeburyness East Beach.

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