Some might say of abandoned ruins: “Who wants to see scattered remnants that have long since lost their meaning?” On the other hand everyone knows that the classic sites, such as in Greece, Italy and Egypt, have always attracted tourists in their droves.
Then there are locations that are less well known. There’s something weirdly enchanting about treading where others have long since scarpered. The memory of the following ruins will linger for any visitor who experiences them:
- City Methodist Church
- Bodiam Castle
- House of the Bulgarian Communist Party
- Dome Houses
City Methodist Church (USA)
The City Methodist Church once stood tall over the town of Gary, Indiana. The impressive Gothic structure was built in 1925 at a time when the steel industry made this part of the U.S. rich. In the 60s and 70s, as work declined and more and more people migrated away from the area, the maintenance costs of the huge building were increasingly becoming a burden. Eventually the money ran out completely and the church was finally left to its fate about four decades ago.
Bodiam Castle (England)
In 1385 the knight Edward Dallyngrigge was granted royal permission to build a great mansion with battlements in East Sussex. He constructed an entire castle which was inhabited until the 15th century. After the start of the English Civil War in 1641, it became a scene of destruction when much of the interior was dismantled and the moated fortress fell into ruin. Subsequent owners undertook to restore the building and it has been in the possession of the National Trust since the 1920s. Today visitors can climb the towers, walk on some of the walls and take in the impressive views.
House of the Bulgarian Communist Party (Bulgaria)
In the mountains of Bulgaria, an imposing but eerie building sits atop the Buzludzha peak. The Communist Party had this concrete UFO-like structure built in 1974, and in addition to the soldiers and volunteers involved in its construction, sixty Bulgarian artists created the oversized murals inside. It was opened in 1981 to mark the liberation from Ottoman rule, but the communist system would break up just eight years later. Just as the Soviet era crumbled, so too did the monument. The venue fell prey to vandalism and looting but there are those who wish to restore the building at least, to its former glory.
In 1963, a landslide hastened the decline of Craco in the province of Matera and the population dropped from 2000 to just 700. Then after an earthquake in 1980, the city was finally abandoned completely. Today, visitors can wander alone through streets and houses and admire the once impressive town. This ancient hillside site has provided the backdrop for numerous films including Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in 2004 and the James Bond adventure, Quantum of Solace.
Dome Houses (USA)
On the southern tip of Marco Iceland in Cape Romano, Florida, these bizarre-looking buildings puzzled locals and visitors for years. Some talked of a secret cult or aliens who built the spherical abodes. Today while the Dome Houses slowly disappear into the sea, they won’t be taking their secret to the ocean floor. In fact, the houses were built in 1980 by a retired oil magnate named Bob Lee. Looking like something from Star Wars, his ambitious DIY project definitely showed his sense of fun while the self-supporting construction and the supply by solar energy pointed to his innovative talent.