5 Enormous Modern Ghost Towns You Won't Believe Exist
We all make a bad investment at some point in our lives: a fancy car that we can't really afford, a time share, an ill-advised zeppelin that it turns out we don't have the time or monocles to use properly. But there are bad investments, and there are these: billion-dollar projects that entire governments just got bored of and abandoned, leaving the rest of us some pretty bitchin' post-apocalyptic playsets, if we can just get past the guards.
(After this, trade in horrifying ghost towns for horrifying online dating profiles with Cracked's new series Rom.Com.)
Russia's Massive Abandoned Water Park
In 1997, Moscow decided to build a huge indoor water park. So they set aside a large tract of land and started a construction project that went on for five years before they got distracted by a passing butterfly and skipped away, never to return.
A butterfly flaps its wings in Moscow, a building collapses ... also in Moscow.
Originally built for the World Youth Games, the listing of its proposed facilities proves that they spared no expense, nor any fucks given for the finished product. The water park was supposed to house a 12-story glass roof, three underground floors, an additional nine floors above ground, five swimming pools complete with water slides, and a track and field (water ... field?).
Trash aside, it still has less pee in it than your average water park.
It was also supposed to house something called the "Palace of Sports," which was a hotel for visiting athletes that itself contained offices, cafes, and a center for physical therapy and medicine. Now it's just a hell of a place to shoot zombies. Seriously, hole up on that diving board; those steep stairs are a great place to bottleneck and ... ahem, we're getting carried away here.
And if you're cornered, just dive headfirst into bare concrete.
Unfortunately, construction of the park ran into a few problems, the main one being that the World Youth Games were in 1998, and construction of this massive water park didn't start until 1997. Needless to say, time wasn't on their side, and it didn't make the cut for the World Youth Games. But construction pressed on for four more years into 2002, at which point they finally had to admit that, no matter how awesome the board, one cannot dive backward through time.
Tetanus? Yes. Time? No.
Eventually the land was bought in 2007, in order to ... apparently do nothing with, since it's all still sitting there today. We would like to humbly suggest paintball.
The place could use the paint.
North Korea's Fake City
Ah, North Korea. There are probably a dozen projects that the world's most delusional nation could have contributed to this article, but we're going with the empty city of Kijong-dong. Not only does nobody live here, but nobody was ever meant to.
No one was meant to die there, either.
Kijong-dong is one of only two "settlements" that exist within the Demilitarized Zone (the 4-mile-wide buffer zone that exists solely to keep the two Koreas from an endless slap fight that would destroy the world as we know it). Despite North Korea's claims that Kijong-dong is a 200-family farming community, the town only serves as an illusion designed to showcase how "great" and "modern" life is in North Korea to the South Koreans who are surely watching from their telescopes, just itching to defect. But it's all for show: In reality, most of it is completely empty and unused.
The watchtowers don't even have part-time guards.
Kijong-dong is one of the nicer townships in North Korea (that's not hard to pull off, considering the rest of the country is basically a video game level that hasn't rendered yet) because it was built to convince South Koreans that life in the North was super great. We're not sure if it's funny or just plain sad that the mirage the North Koreans built to try to trick everybody into believing paradise lies just across the border looks like the saddest, crappiest farming town we've ever seen, while parts of South Korea look an anime version of The Jetsons.
"Whatever, dicks -- The Flintstones was better."
What appear to be citizens walking about, attending to their daily lives, are actually actors put there to give the impression that the city is occupied. Each day they are bussed in, and each night they are bussed out. They can't stay at the village itself because, although it appears to be complete from a distance, all the buildings are giant hollow shells, lacking interior walls, floors, and windows. They do have electric lighting (something lacking in much of North Korea) in order to complete the ruse. Ooh, look at us fancy North Koreans with our amazing electric lighting and houses that technically haven't collapsed yet! Surely this is hedonism. Don't you wish you were here?
The Olympic Park That Became a War Zone
In 1984, the Winter Olympics were held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. You might remember Sarajevo as "that place the news warned us about," and you might remember Yugoslavia as "that country that doesn't exist anymore." As you can likely surmise, shit in Sarajevo went about as far down as the shit-elevator would take it, then switched to the stairs. So the massive and beautiful Olympic facility that they built in a more optimistic time now looks like this:
This was a painting of an Olympic village, but then it rained.
Here's the bobsled track, which was built at a cost of 563,209,000 Yugoslav dinar.
That's like 500 dinar for each jagged crack.
We're sure some of those zeroes are utterly meaningless, but that's still got to be a hell of a lot of money. Once the mortars started firing, the twisty, turny track became one of the most whimsical artillery strongholds in history. Now the shelled remains are slowly being reclaimed by the wilderness.
And by anonymous lovers hunting for glory holes.
Here's the ski jump, which we'll go ahead and guess was used to ramp bombs at enemies stationed downhill, and the ski lift, which was obviously perfect for sniper placement.
The mist will hide you, because Gaia is on your side.
As a parting kick to your heart compare those Call of Duty maps to the hopeful opening ceremony for the '84 games:
Spain's Deserted Airport
The Ciudad Real Central Airport in Spain cost 1 billion euros to build. But that was all right: It was positioned within a short train ride of both Spain's capital city, Madrid, and the Andalusian coast -- clearly Ciudad Real Central was going to be standing room only. Here it is on a busy day:
Flights expected from fleas, bees, and dragonflies!
It was completed in 2009 and opened the same year, but instead of handling the anticipated 10 million passengers a year they expected, Ciudad Real Central managed to average a meager 22,000 during its brief and lonely period of operation before closing entirely in 2011. Two years: That's all they got out of it. That's a negative return of half a billion dollars annually.
The crushing economic failure in Spain stays mainly in the plane.
The majority of its facilities, which include an enormous 28,000-square-foot terminal building, have gone completely unused. Endless empty parking lots litter the airport, vast runways go unused save for the occasional tumbleweed drag race, and passenger walkways lead off to nowhere. It's either an eerie physical reminder of an economic crash or one hell of a skate park, depending on how you look at it.
Spain is not optimistic about shifting to a skater-based economy.
The good news is that you can buy it right now for the low, low bargain price of 100 million euros (plus the miniscule, almost-not-worth-mentioning half-billion-euro debt it's incurred). So if you've always loved the airport but hate people, travel, planes, and your own money, look no further for your new summer home. It's got one hell of a driveway.
The backyard's a bitch to maintain, though.
The Empty City With Space for Millions
This is the Chinese city of Kangbashi, Inner Mongolia:
Situated within the greater populated region of Ordos, Kangbashi looks like a metropolis after an uber-plague swept through. All these giant apartment buildings look so pristine and new because they are absolutely pristine and new -- so new, in fact, that nobody has ever lived in most of them. And yet they're still building more.
Someone needs to kick them out of this dreamy limbo.
Somewhere in the region, there's a population of about 20,000 (does the census count Mole People?), which seems like a lot until you learn that Kangbashi has been designed to house around a million people. It's the world's largest and newest ghost town.
A secret cannibal cult would make this town less creepy.
And it's not all apartment buildings, either. Kangbashi also has a museum, a stadium, and an opera house, all completed and all empty save for the ghosts of potentiality.
This building was supposed to house a guild of warrior companions.
Strangely enough, it may not be a matter of supply exceeding demand -- most of the condos and apartments have apparently been sold. The entire city was built in advance of the people's arrival -- they just never arrived. Why buy a home you never intend to live in? Simple: Many Chinese citizens don't trust the stock market, so it's generally perceived as safer to dump your money into property instead. The result is an entire city that's technically sold out, yet damn near vacant. And also the single most impressive go-kart track ever built, if we have our say.
Related Reading: Are you a supervillain looking for some abandoned building to make into your Citadel of Terror? Click here. The Whitley Park Estates would be a pretty great spot to pick, since it's got the underwater Crazydome you'd need for true villainy. And hey, you'll need some weaponry to go with your new HQ: the aircraft boneyard has plenty of hardware.