May 13, 2024 | Eul Basa

These Abandoned Places Have Been Taken Over By Plants


When nature takes over

The abandoned places on this list are beautiful examples of what happens when we let nature take full control. Feast your eyes on these incredible overgrown ruins and historic sites.

Abandonedplacesplants Cover

Houtouwan

Origins

Houtouwan is an old fishing village in the east of Shanghai, China that used to be home to over 2,000 fishermen. Once a thriving community, the area was abandoned in the 1990s as people sought out better employment and educational opportunities in the mainland.

Houtouwan, China's ghost fishing village swallowed by natureTada Images, Shutterstock

Houtouwan

Features

The village features traditional Chinese-style architecture mostly constructed with brick and stone. Since its abandonment, the buildings have been almost completely swallowed up by greenery, particularly moss and ivy.

Landscape photo of houses covered with plants in Houtouwan ChinaDāvis Kļaviņš, Flickr

Houtouwan

Today

Despite the village being completely overrun by plants, there are still a handful of people who reside in Houtouwan today. The site also receives many tourists seeking an otherworldly experience.

Panorama photo of houses covered with plants in Houtouwan ChinaDāvis Kļaviņš, Flickr

Chapelle de l'Ange au Violon

Origins

The Chapelle de l'Ange au Violon is historic chapel in the south of France. Constructed in 1885, it is a marvel of Gothic architecture—but some decades ago, it was abandoned by its owner, and the reason remains a mystery.

Photo of Abandoned Chapel covered with plantsAntoine Chapuy, Flickr

Chapelle de l'Ange au Violon

Features

As the years went by after its abandonment, plant life began to reclaim the chapel, with foliage growing on its floors and vines growing up its walls. Despite its decaying state, many of the architectural details remained intact, including a gorgeous stained glass window that filters warm light into the space.

Photo of Abandoned Chapel interior covered with plantsurban requiem, Flickr

Chapelle de l'Ange au Violon

Today

Unfortunately, the chapel is in a fragile state and visitors are currently prohibited. However, photographers who had visited the site previously noted that restoration work appears to be underway and that the historic site may one day open its doors to visitors again.

Photo of Abandoned Chapel interior covered with plantsurban requiem, Flickr

Battleship Island

Origins

Hashima Island, also known as Battleship Island, is a concrete jungle located off the coast of Nagasaki in Japan. In the late 19th century, coal was discovered in underwater mines near an island—then, the Mitsubishi Corporation bought it in 1890 and started building infrastructure for its coal miners.

Hashima, Battleship Island Nagasaki Japankntrty, Flickr

Battleship Island

Features

The reason why the island was called "Battleship Island" is because of its concrete seawall and crowded buildings which make it look like a battleship from far away. Since its abandonment, nature has reclaimed much of the island's infrastructure. The Japanese knotwood, an invasive species, comprises the majority of the vegetation.

Photo of Hashima Island, also known as Battleship Island, Nagasaki, JapanΣ64, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Battleship Island

Today

Over the years, the plants have gradually broken down the concrete, bringing the island into a state of deterioration. The combination of vegetation and decay has created a surreal and haunting landscape.

Landscape Photo of Hashima Island, also known as Battleship Island, Nagasaki, JapanKanesue, Flickr

Beng Mealea

Origins

Beng Mealea is a massive temple compound in Cambodia from the 12th century, constructed under the rule of King Suryavarman II. Over the decades, Beng Mealea was taken over by plants as a result of neglect.

The Jungle-like ruin of Beng Mealea in CambodiaJohn Shedrick, Flickr

Beng Mealea

Features

Sandstone blocks from nearby mountains were used to build the temple, but without proper maintenance, the structure began to deteriorate. The surrounding forest encroached on the temple as ideal conditions for plant growth in Cambodia, such as a humid climate and abundant rainfall, allowed seeds to germinate.

The Jungle-like ruin of Beng Mealea in Cambodia.Joshua Alan Eckert, Flickr

Beng Mealea

Today

Today, Beng Melea is a hotspot for adventurers with its many mysterious passages and hidden chambers. The site is the perfect intersection between human creation and natural forces.

The Jungle-like ruin of Beng Mealea in CambodiaHotel Kaesong, Flickr

Gwrych Castle

Origins

Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales may have always been destined to become a ruins. Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh, the castle's builder, had big hopes for the fortress—but he faced many finacial difficulties during its construction.

Landscape Photo of Gwrych Castle in Conwy County Borough, Wales.Gary Bealr, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Gwrych Castle

Features

In the late 20th century, Gwrych Castle experienced neglect and vandalism. It would end up deteriorating due to lack of maintenance, resulting in parts of the building decaying and becoming overgrown with plants.

Landscape Photo of Gwrych Castle in Conwy County Borough, Wales.Peter Tully, Flickr

Gwrych Castle

Today

In Wales, Gwrych Castle remains to be a popular tourist destination. Recent restoration projects aim to revitalize the castle's integrity and continue promoting tourism to the site.

Landscape Photo of Gwrych Castle in Conwy County Borough, WalesGwrychcastle, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mangapurua Valley

Origins

After WWI, soldiers in NZ were offered land in Mangapurua Valley. Established in 1919, around 40 families settled there. By the 1940s, due to isolation and poor farming conditions, they left. The valley was reclaimed by the forest and native wildlife.

Landscape photo of The Bridge to NowhereDepartment of Conservation, Flickr

Mangapurua Valley

Features

The only remaining evidence of the settlement is the abandoned "Bridge to Nowhere," now a pathway for animals. Houses, fields, drains, and the road are reclaimed by the forest in Whanganui National Park.

Landscape photo of The Bridge to NowhereJessica Ebrey, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Mangapurua Valley

Today

Years and years of farming has turned the Mangapurua Valley forest into grasslands and swamps that today serve as remnants of the past. Mangapurua Valley is still a popular location for hiking and biking.

The Kaiwhakauka Track to the Bridge to Nowhere (Mangapurua).eyeintim, Flickr

Ross Island

Origins

Ross Island has a rich history with the British and Japanese. Once a small British colonial settlement where convicts and prisoners were mistreated, is now overrun by jungle.

Port at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island (Andaman) Ross IslandKotoviski, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ross Island

Features

Nature has reclaimed most of the island, turning it into a tourist spot near Port Blair. Twisted trees envelop buildings and various mosses and grasses coat building walls, creating a haunting atmosphere

Ross Island AndamanBiswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ross Island

Today

A visit to Ross Island offers a unique insight into history. The island in India displays historic British and Japanese architectures, reflecting British opulence after their seizure over Andaman.

Church at Ross Island, officially known as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose IslandAnkur Panchbudhe, Flickr

San Juan Parangaricutiro

Origins

In Michoacán, Mexico, the church in San Juan Parangaricutiro is the only building left after a volcano erupted in 1943, covering two villages in lava and ash. The church stood strong, surrounded by lava, for twelve months as the volcano continued to erupt for eight years.

Remains of the ancient village of Parangaricutiro, Uruapan, Michoacán, MexicoLBM1948, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

San Juan Parangaricutiro

Features

The colonial-style church in Mexico, built by Spanish missionaries in the 16th-17th centuries, featured thick adobe walls, a simple front, and a bell tower. However, after the Parícutin volcano erupted, lava partially covered and collapsed the upper parts of the church.

Remains of the Church at the ancient village of Parangaricutiro.LBM1948, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

San Juan Parangaricutiro

Today

The San Juan Parangaricutiro church is now partially submerged in hardened lava rock, the only remaining structure from the village. Followers visit annually, believing in God's protection during the volcanic eruption.

Former altar of the San Juan Parangaricutiro church in Michoacan, MexicoAlejandroLinaresGarcia, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sigiriya

Origins

Sigiriya is an ancient city from the fifth century in Sri Lanka's central province. It features a royal palace, monastery, and stunning frescoes—as well as an intriguing history that dates back several centuries.

Aerial view of Sigiriya RockBinuka poojan, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sigiriya

Features

One of Sigiriya's most striking features is its entrance. Its summit, once guarded by a stone lion, earned its name Lion Rock. Only the lion's feet remain, offering a glimpse of the statue's former glory.

Drone view of Sigiriya Rock.dronepicr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sigiriya

Today

Sigiriya has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. Beyond its cultural, historical, and architectural significance, it attracts visitors globally with guided tours, exhibits, and panoramic views.

The Mirror Wall & Spiral Stairs Leading To The FrescoesParakrama, Wikimedia Commons

Spreepark

Origins

An abandoned 70-acre amusement park in Berlin, known as Spreepark, has been untouched since the early 2000s. Originally built in 1969 in East Berlin, it was an entertainment center in ex-communist East Germany.

Abandoned Spreepark with Ferris wheel in BerlinA.Savin, FAL, Wikimedia Commons

Spreepark

Features

Spreepark in Plänterwald had rides like a Ferris wheel, roller coasters, log flume, bumper cars, and themed sections. Its unique charm was enhanced by its picturesque location next to the River Spree in a wooded area.

Landscape photo of Spreeparkconticium, Flickr

Spreepark

Today

Spreepark has a history of redevelopment proposals into a leisure or cultural space, but currently remains mostly deserted with limited public access. It's unclear whether the theme park will be reopened anytime soon.

Opening to Roller Coaster in SpreeparkMdkoch84, Wikimedia Commons

The SS Ayrfield

Origins

The SS Ayrfield, also known as the "Floating Forest," is a fascinating maritime relic located in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia. Built in the UK in 1911, SS Ayrfield operated as a coal-carrying steam collier during WW2.

The remains of the SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australiamezuni, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The SS Ayrfield

Features

The SS Ayrfield was decommissioned and sent to Homebush Bay for scrap metal in the mid-20th century but was left due to industry decline and environmental concerns. Mangrove trees now grow inside, creating a floating forest.

The remains of the SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia.andrew milling, Flickr

The SS Ayrfield

Today

The SS Ayrfield's industrial decay and natural beauty attract photographers and artists worldwide. This historical and ecologically significant sunken ship in Sydney's bay is protected as a cultural landmark representing the city's naval heritage.

The remains of the SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia.Marc Dalmulder, Flickr

Stack Rock Fort

Origins

Stack Rock Fort was constructed in the mid-1800s as one of many coastal defenses created during the Victorian period to safeguard Britain against potential invasion. The fort was built on Stack Rock, a tiny island made level to support its construction.

Landscape Photo of Stack Rock FortReading Tom, Flickr

Stack Rock Fort

Features

The horseshoe-shaped Stack Rock Fort had a central courtyard and ocean-facing gun placements armed with powerful cannons. It protected Milford Haven harbor and had a variety of artillery for defense. Years of abandonment led to the site being overgrown with plant life.

Stack Rock Fort From AboveJacob Allen, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Stack Rock Fort

Today

The recently restored Stack Rock Fort now offers public access for tourism and recreation. Efforts included repairing damage, stabilizing structure, and developing visitor amenities. A popular destination for military history and maritime enthusiasts, offering guided tours, boat trips, and panoramic views.

Stack Rock Fort seen looking North Norwest from the MainlandAinslie, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ta Prohm Temple

Origins

Located in Cambodia's Angkor region, Ta Prohm is known for its unique blend of nature and architecture. Constructed in the late 12th and early 13th centuries by King Jayavarman VII, it served as a Buddhist monastery and university.

Ta Prohm, Buddhist temple in Siem Reap, CambodiaSupanut Arunoprayote, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ta Prohm Temple

Features

Ta Prohm seamlessly integrates with the surrounding jungle, surrounded by large trees whose roots intertwine with the temple's stone buildings. These intricate tree roots not only enhance the temple's mysterious atmosphere but also provide structural strength.

Ta Prohm, Buddhist temple in Siem Reap, CambodiaClay Gilliland, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Ta Prohm Temple

Today

Ta Prohm in Cambodia is a popular tourist destination today. Guided tours and interpretive signage help visitors appreciate the temple's history and architecture. The temple gained global fame after being featured in "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider."

Ta Prohm, Buddhist temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.James Handlon, Flickr

Vallone dei Mulini

Origins

The Valley of the Mills, or Vallone dei Mulini in Sorrento, Italy, is known for its ruins and greenery. The now-abandoned site once held factories with mills for grinding wheat since the 10th century.

Landscape Photo of Vallone dei Mulini or Valle dei MuliniMentnafunangann, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Vallone dei Mulini

Features

Vallone dei Mulini's mills feature stone walls, arched windows, and water channels in a cascading layout on steep slopes. Once bustling with traditional milling techniques, they became abandoned in the early 1900s, taking on a beautiful decay.

Landscape Photo of Vallone dei Mulini or Valle dei MuliniElizabeth Thomsen, Flickr

Vallone dei Mulini

Today

Vallone dei Mulini's ruined stone buildings are now overgrown with vines, ferns, and mosses. Despite its decay, the site serves as a vital ecological area, supporting a variety of plant and animal species and contributing to soil stabilization and biodiversity.

Landscape Photo of Vallone dei Mulini or Valle dei MuliniErin Mc, Flickr


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