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15 Haunting Ruins Of War: Abandoned Places of Military Turmoil Past and Presents

Propaganda from the Soviet Era

Sometimes it is easy to find the beauty in abandoned buildings and cities, but in many cases the forces driving men from locations are relatively benign; economics, or the environment, or at worst a totalitarian government attempting to control a population. Man is capable of so much worse, however, and our wars have left abandoned buildings all over the world as haunting memorials to our capacity for violence. Sometimes, what becomes of them after the war is over is even more shameful than the event that brought their destruction about …


Varosha Warning Sign

Varosha Skyline

Images from Michael Totten

Varosha is just noth of the Attilla line in Cyprus, and is the site of brutal Turkish relocation program in 1974. Following the invasion, Turkey immediately forced every Cypriot in the North to relocate South, and vice versa; the Greek Cypriots fleeing the city assumed that they could soon return to their homes; instead, the Turks cordoned it off with barbed wire and patrols, and have left it empty to this day.

Highway 1

Church on Hwy 1 In Vietnam

Abandoned Towers on the Ben Hai River

Highway 1 is the backbone of Vietnam, and was along the primary axis of the 1975 Easter Offensive that reunified the Southeast Asian nation under Northern leadership. The church visible here was clearly somebody’s last stand, and hasn’t been touched since 1975; the guard towers have been abandoned since the end of the war.

Beelitz Hospital

Beelitz Hospital

Beelitz Hospital Outdoors

Images from 28YearsLater

Beelitz hospital was occupied by the Soviet Union from World War II to 1994, Beelitz was constructed as a mental ward in 1900 before becoming a full hospital during World War I. It’s maybe most worth noting that Lance Corporal Adolf Hitler was treated here for battlefield injuries that would win him the Iron Cross.


Ruins of a Cathedral in Mogadishu

A Girl In Front Of A Bombed-Out Building

Images From Daylife.com

“The Mog” as American soldiers sent there to keep the peace in the early 90s, is one of the most Anarchic locations on earth: racked by famine, and controlled by an ever-rotating warlord at the head of the local authority, the city has been plunged into such chaos since 1991 that the population isn’t know: somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million Somalis are believed to live there.

Talisay City

The Mansionat Talisay City

From Inside The Ruins

Talisay Ruins At Night

Images From Found Me

Talisay City in the Phillipenes features a mansion built by a sugar magnate at the turn of the last century that not once, but twice, was destroyed in the Second World War in order to prevent Japanese forces from using it. Once on their way out of the Phillipenes, the USAAF bombed and strafed the home, and Phillipene rebels burned it down to keep it from falling into Japanese hands.

Khe Sahn

The Inside of A Bunker At Khe Sahn

Khe Sahn is a remote moutniantop near the Cambodian border in Vietnam, and was a critical airstrip and supply base on what was called the “MacNamara Line” to prevent a larger NVA presence in South Vietnam. In additon to being a Marine Corps stronghold, Khe Sahn was a target for the North Vietnamese because they would soon after its fall be able to take the smaller firebases at Camp Fuller and Razorback; instead the Marines held out for three months before evacuating successfuly. The North Vietnamese later claimed the base, and in honor of their “victory” shipped in wreckage from other battlefields for a display.

Point Du Hoc

A German Battery At Pointe Du Hoc

Trenches and Bunkers At Pointe Du Hoc

Images from wikipedia

Pointe Du Hoc was the key to German defenses on D-Day, and came under hours of pre-landing bombardment from the Allied navies and air forces; nevertheless, the men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion found a fully staffed, functioning fortress at the top of a cliff when they landed, and proceeded to scale ropes so that they could clear out the German crews and use satchel charges to destroy the guns. It was one of the highest-drama moments of the invasion, and is preserved along with the ret of the beach as a memorial.


An Advertisement Against the Rins Of Grozny.

Destroyed Buildings Are Slowly Repopulating

Image from Flickr User Dziadek

Chechnya, which waged a semi-successful insurgency against Russia over the course of two wars from 1994 to 2000. The capital, Grozny, was attacked by Russian troops almost at will, and much of the infastructure has been destroyed–only to see the population return.

Truk Lagoon

The Deck of a Japanese Freighter in Truk

Images from Don Sutherland

Truk, which was billed at the time as the “Japanese Pearl Harbor” was home to five airstips and most of the Japanese fleet when Operation Hailstone began in February 1944. Under aerial bombardment for three straight days, the Japanese stronghold was removed from contention in the war, and most of the ships in her harbor sank to a shallow grave, where today sport divers have easy access to them.


Formerly the Afghan National Stadium

Darulaman Palace

Images from Steve on Picasa

Kabul has had the misfortune of being in almost constant conflict since the 1980s; if it wasn’t the Soviets, it was the Taliban, then the Northern Alliance, then the U.S., and now the Taliban again taking out their frustrations on the capital of Afghanistan. Much like Grozny during the Chechen Wars, life is going on in these modern ruins, and the population is simply trying to survive.


Most of Hiroshima Has Been Rebuilt

The Skeletal Remains of the Only Prewar Structure

Images from Peace Parks

Hiroshima was of course the site of the first use of an atomic bomb in anger; while most of the city has rebuilt over the clear-cut blast radius, a lone building remains standing as a memorial to the vaporization of a city in 1945.

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