Google’s Street View is a treasure trove of quirky finds.
It provides online adventurers with a first-person, ground-level view of areas they have never visited and the opportunity to visit those places from the comfort of their homes.
We are talking abandoned towns, uninhabitable irradiated areas, war-torn cities, deserted military facilities, and spots that were once used for mass murder.
You get the chance to visit Japan’s Aokigahara forest that lies at the base of Mount Fiji. The forest looks quiet and is frequented by trekkers who long to explore the scenic vistas of Mount Fiji, but it has a macabre side as it is the number one suicide spot in Japan.
After that creepy forest, you can wander around the tiny fortress-like Hashima Island that is ringed by a seawall and is entirely abandoned. In 1959, it had the highest population density in the world, but today, it is a ghost town that has remained uninhabited for more than forty years.
If you hate forests and islands, wander in the remote village of Nagoro where an old lady crafts life-size dolls every time someone dies or leaves the village. But if you like creepier dolls, you will find plenty of them on an Island on Teshuilo Lake in Xochimilco canals, Mexico. They were crafted by Julian Santana to commemorate her daughter who drowned mysteriously.
You can then ‘teleport’ to Alaska and roam around James Dalton Highway or near the Buckner Building in Whittier. If those places are not scary enough, find your way to either the “Gate of Death” or the killing tree at Choeung Ek.
Street View also gives you the chance to explore dangerous neighborhoods like El Bronx in Colombia or Camden in New Jersey. They are spooky but not as spooky as Ukraine’s Pripyat or Syria’s Aleppo. Let’s look at these places in detail:
15. LA ISLA DE LAS MUÑECAS, ,MEXICO
This home is on an Island on Teshuilo Lake, in the Xochimilco canals. But it is not your regular home as it is filled with hundreds of creepy and scary dolls that hang everywhere.
Don Julian Santana, the man who owned the home, had a daughter who died in mysterious circumstances and Julian went berserk. He kept seeing his late daughter, and he wanted her to play with the dolls. While some locals claim a girl drowned in the lake for real, others believe Julian imagined the story.
After the alleged incident, Julian devoted his life to honoring his daughter’s soul. Strangely, Julian was also found – in 2001 – drowned in the same area it is believed his daughter perished.
But he had managed to transform the island into a doll-infested and horrifying wonderland. Most of the dolls are covered with dirt, and a majority of them have no limbs and eyes. The small island had never intended to become a tourist destination.
14. PRIPYAT POST OFFICE, PRIPYAT, UKRAINE
Pripyat was an ordinary town that was abandoned after the Chernobyl disaster. Now, almost the entire place is fascinatingly creepy.
This is one of the rooms in the former Pripyat post office that is incredibly strange and disturbing. It looks like a place where people were trained on how to use gas masks.
Pripyat was constructed in the 1970s for the people working in the reactor. It was a beautiful town that had some 50,000 residents, who sadly had to be evacuated just 36 hours after the accident.
Today, Pripyat is a chilling ghost town with tons of empty buildings. The floors in schools, gyms, offices, and former homes are full of belongings that were left behind and are a testimony of how people left the town unexpectedly.
13. THE KILLING TREE AT CHOEUNG EK GENOCIDAL CENTER, PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Kids as young as a few weeks old used to be battered on this tree because it saved time and bullets. The bands that hang on the tree were placed there by other people to commemorate those who lost their lives there.
If you visit the tree at Choeung Ek, you are likely to find bone, teeth, or cloth fragments on the ground around the tree. The center and its trees remain as a chilling reminder of the brutalities of the Khmer Rouge regime.
This is where Khmer Rouge brought its prisoners for execution, which involved a blow to the head and slitting of throats. It is reported that some 17,000 civilians were murdered and buried in mass graves around this center. Every year, their bone fragments get picked from the ground, but new ones emerge to the surface whenever the ground gets moist.
12. THE GATE OF DEATH, AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU, POLAND
This is the “Gate of Death,” and it is the entrance to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
At this camp, more than a million humans were murdered. They included more than 900 thousand Jews, 15,000 Soviet Prisoners of War, 21,000 Roma, 74, 000 Poles, and at least 10,000 individuals of other nationalities.
The gate was constructed in 1943, long after the camp had been opened. Initially, the gate was used for pedestrians and trucks before railroad tracks were laid later in 1944.
Freight trains used to go through this gate carrying thousands of human beings, mostly Jews. Those who were able to work were allowed to work until they succumbed to either overwork or diseases. Those who were unfit to work were sent into one of the four gas chambers. Others were gassed immediately without even going through any selection process.
Luckily, Soviet soldiers entered this gates on the 27th of January 1945, but the Nazis had already left earlier. It was the end of the largest mass murder in a single location in the history of humanity.
11. THE BUCKNER BUILDING IN WHITTIER, ALASKA
It was completed in 1953, and its purpose was to serve as a secret self-contained military base. It had several amenities, and it had enough rooms for the army and their families. In fact, it was nicknamed the “City Under One Roof” because locals believed it housed the entire city of Whittier.
But after the Whittier Army Port was closed in 1960, the military did not know what to do with the building, and they deserted it eventually. Worse, the Big Alaska Earthquake of 1964 destroyed most of it. However, the building remained intact until the 1980s when all the windows were shattered and the hostile Whittier climate found its way inside.
Today, it is an abandoned building with rooms that have been flooded with water and floors that are laced by mold, mildew, and asbestos.
10. LUNÍK IX, KOŠICE, SLOVAKIA
In this Košice suburb of Slovakia, almost everyone is unemployed, and houses have no water, gas, or heating. Poverty and diseases are the norm and residents have the poorest living conditions known to man.
The suburb is occupied by some 8,000+ Slovakian Roma, the majority of them children, who spend most of their time playing in heaps of garbage and loitering around the filthy apartments.
This 106-hectare suburb is full of graffiti and old furniture that is visible on most balconies. Originally, it was built for 2,500 people, but it is believed that the population tripled because of the demolition of another Roma suburb in 1979.
The city of Košice received £51million after it was named the European Capital of Culture in 2013. The money was to be invested in the city’s infrastructure, tourism, and creative industries, but that did not improve the living condition in Luník IX.
9. DALTON HIGHWAY, ALASKA
The James Dalton Highway is known for its remote location, uneven terrain, and icy conditions. It is also one of the most isolated roads in the United States.
The 414-mile highway was opened in 1974 as a supply road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, but now it is used for tours to the Arctic Ocean, and it provides access to the three towns that it passes through. In fact, it was only opened for tourists in 1994.
The truckers who use it have attested to its treacherous conditions as it finds it way around the Brooks Range that features steep mountains. While the road is pothole-laden, the temperatures are freezing, and you are likely to go for 200 miles before you get cell service. Medical facilities are scarce, and there are only three known gas stations along the entire highway: one at the Yukon River crossing, another at Coldfoot, and the last one at Deadhorse. Other amenities like hotels and restaurants are so scarce that they are almost non-existent.
8. ALEPPO, SYRIA
Before the civil war, Aleppo was a beautiful city. It was a thriving metropolis with great people and lots of historical monuments.
It was once a tourist destination that was famous for its rich cultural history and its medieval architecture. In fact, Aleppo was named the “Islamic Capital of Culture” in 2006.
But after half a decade of conflict, Aleppo is barely recognizable. The city has had to endure a catastrophic transformation that has left it looking like a war zone.
The civil war that erupted in 2011 left thousands of Syrians dead and has forced millions to flee the country, but some residents in Aleppo have never considered leaving the once thriving city. Despite their choice, most neighborhoods are in ruins or under siege as bloody battles between rebels and regime forces continue.
Today, Aleppo resembles a city out of a post-apocalyptic film. It has turned into a violent battleground that has been reduced to rubbles as most of its old apartment blocks have been shattered by artillery.
7. HILL OF CROSSES, JURGAIČIAI, LITHUANIA
Lithuania’s Hill of Crosses is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Europe, but it looks like a hill from a horror movie. The place has had significance, in particular between 1944 and 1990, when it became a symbol of resistance of the Soviet Union after authorities tried to destroy it. The hill and its crosses were bulldozed three times to end the symbolism of the site, but somehow, locals and pilgrims found a way to erect the crosses again and the place was revived.
The hill is home to around 200,000 crosses and has been visited by prominent religious people including the late Pope John Paul II, who visited the site in 1993. Later in 2000, a monastery was constructed to house the hundreds of pilgrims who frequent the area.
The place is full of crosses; some as high as 4 meters or even more. Tons of people have left crosses here to commemorate family members while others have paid tribute to disaster victims.
6. NAGORO, JAPAN
In Nagoro, an old lady named Tsukimi Ayano makes a new doll every time a villager dies or vacates the village.
Her life-size dolls are almost everywhere: sitting in chairs, by the roadside, leaning against lampposts, or ‘guarding’ the fields. Others are students, utility workers, and fishermen who are forever waiting for their catch. Today, these life-size dolls are believed to be more than 300 and much more than the human population in Nagoro.
Ayano became worried about the dwindling population and took the initiative of creating doll replicas of the residents. She started making the dolls more than a decade ago after learning that most of her neighbors were either dying or moving to bigger cities.
After creating a scarecrow that was supposed to resemble her father, she had an epiphany and decided to continue creating the doppelgängers who are now spread across Nagoro.
5. CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY, USA
Camden was once listed as the most dangerous city in America. In 2011 alone, Camden’s murder rate was ten times that of New York City and 30% higher than New Orleans, Louisiana.
This is primarily because almost half of the population lives below the poverty line as the city has been destroyed by drugs and gangs. In fact, in 2012, Camden earned the title as the poorest city in the United States.
The high unemployment and the 2011 police cuts have made Camden even deadlier. Today, most young men have been left with nothing but to battle for territories across the city.
This is sad because Camden used to be a major manufacturing hub with huge corporations like General Electric and RCA. However, after those factories left, they were never replaced. The city then fell into ruin and was taken over by alcohol and drugs.
4. ‘EL BRONX,’ BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA
El Bronx is in the heart of Colombia’s capital and is home to gambling, prostitution, vagrants, and drug dens. A constant stench of urine and rotten garbage lingers the air, and the place is almost a no-go zone for most city residents.
Around May of 2016, the police and military began an operation to seize control of El Bronx, and the neighborhood’s fearsome reputation was confirmed. Torture rooms were uncovered, and it became apparent that some individuals were performing satanic rituals using desiccated snakes. The open-air drug market was left looking like a war zone.
El Bronx was controlled by heavily armed gangs known as “Sayayines” who would not hesitate to torture anyone who betrayed them. Sometimes, they went as far as dousing the bodies with acid to ensure they did not leave any trace.
3. HASHIMA ISLAND, NAGASAKI, JAPAN
Hashima Island, commonly referred to as Gunkanjima, lies around 15 kilometers from the city of Nagasaki and was vacated in the 70’s.
The Mitsubishi Corporation developed it at the start of the 20th century because it was above a rich coal deposit. For years, the mining continued, and by 1941, the area was producing some 400,000 tons of coal every year.
There was then need to create a city around the mine to accommodate the miners. Therefore, ten-story complexes, restaurants, schools, and various other amenities were built and were encircled by a protective seawall. The place continued to thrive and even had the highest population density in 1959.
But then, coal was depleted, and Mitsubishi had to close the mine forcing everyone to leave. Gunkanjima was then abandoned, and its apartments began to crumble, and nature started ‘reclaiming’ the island.
It remained closed to all visitors from 1974 to around 2009 before it was opened for organized tours.
2. DOEL, BEVEREN, BELGIUM
This ghost town in Belgium has a 17th-century home that was once owned by the family of the painter, Peter Raul Reubens. But it has been at the center of controversy for years because the government wants to demolish it to pave way for an expanding harbor.
Antwerp’s port required more space and Doel became the immediate target for demolition. The government then came up with a plan to force residents out, but they were countered by serious protests that have gone for decades from the 1970s all the way to the 90’s.
In 1999, it was officially concluded that the town would be demolished. Later, in 2007, a group calling itself Doel 2020 came up with a plan to ensure the town survived by transforming it into a haven for street artists.
Today, Doel is a street art and graffiti paradise.
1. THE AOKIGAHARA SUICIDE FOREST, JAPAN
The Aokigahara forest is one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. It even has signs that urge visitors to rethink about ending their lives.
According to Japanese mythology, the forest has a reputation for hosting the ghosts of the dead.
The forest looks scary and has several trails that go through the woods. While some parts have a clear view during the day, other places are dark and dead silent.
Some people refer to it as “the perfect place to die” because it is number two in suicide – after the Golden Gate Bridge. In 2002, a shocking 78 suicides were committed in the forest, and in 2003, more than a hundred bodies were discovered.
Every year, around 70 corpses are found in this vast forest by volunteers who clean the woods. Unfortunately, some people get lost never to be found in this thick forest. At some point, Japanese authorities stopped publishing the statistics of the suicide cases because they did not want to make the place more popular.
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