List of described abandoned cities and towns

Here are listed abandoned cities and towns described by Wondermondo.

Click on headings to sort the table!

NoNameCountryYears of existence
287 Persepolis Iran, Fars 521 - 330 BC
329 Joya de Cerén El Salvador, La Libertad 500 - 610 AD
335 El Mirador Guatemala, Petén ˜ 200 BC - 900 AD
435 Leptis Magna Libya, Murqub ˜ 1000 BC
436 Ancient Carthage Tunisia, Tunis ˜ 846 - 813 BC
458 Mahasthangarh Bangladesh, Rajshahi ˜ 3rd century BC

Map of described abandoned cities and towns

What is an abandoned city or town?

Wondermondo includes in this category those cities or towns - and also parts of cities - which have been built and inhabited in the past but are abandoned now.

Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu, Peru.
Pedro Szekely, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Every abandoned city and town belongs to the category of cities and towns and most of them (those which are older than 1500 years) - to the category of ancient cities and towns.


The main impression created by an abandoned city is intimate. This is a mixed feeling of sadness, unclear anxiety ("my city will not be eternal either") and at the same time - inspiration by the abilities of our ancestors. Long ago, without the electricity, paper or different mechanisms they managed to create magnificent structures, which covered many square kilometres.

But, in spite of their splendour and beauty, these cities were abandoned.

Why were they abandoned?

Development of a city and successive abandonment of it is an event of major importance. But surprisingly - often it is not entirely clear why the cities were abandoned.

In many cases there are understandable reasons. Many cities overused the surrounding resources and finally could not sustain themselves. Many cities suffered heavily in warfare or earthquakes and no one wanted to come back in these fields of ruins - sites of mass tragedy. Often the political situation changed and no one needed the former splendid capital cities, built upon the ambitions and whims of kings.

Often (Cliff Palace in Colorado, Mohenjo-daro, Palenque) the reasons behind the abandonment are less clear.

Cliff Palace, United States
Cliff Palace, United States.
Borchert A. CC-BY-SA-3.0

Some cities barely survive. One such example is Rome - it was the first city where the number of inhabitants exceeded 1 million some 2000 years ago. Some six centuries later this huge city turned into endless fields of ruins, with smaller groups of people living here and there - in total only some 35,000 people lived here. Rome though managed to redefine itself and to adjust to modern times - now here live nearly 3 million people.

Nevertheless it is weird to see the endless fields of ruins in Bagan, Chichen Itza, Angkor, Mohenjo-daro. How could the people leave these once splendid and lively cities? Will our own beloved cities face the same fate? Yes... inevitably.

Outstanding abandoned cities and towns

Here are selected some of the most impressive and interesting abandoned cities and towns of the the world, arranged by the part of the world and in an alphabetic order.


Northern Africa

Karnak Temple in Thebes, Egypt
Karnak Temple in Thebes, Egypt.
Michael Caven, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other parts of Africa


Central Asia

Ruins of Merv, Turkmenistan
Ruins of Merv, Turkmenistan.
Peretz Partensky, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Eastern Asia

Southeastern Asia

Southern Asia

Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Ruwanwelisaya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.
Rob Glover, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Western Asia

Al Khazneh in Petra, Jordan
Al Khazneh - treasury in Petra, Jordan.
vascoplanet, Vyacheslav Argenberg, Flickr / CC BY 2.0


Roman Forum, Italy
Roman Forum, Italy.
yellowbook, Flickr / CC BY 2.0.

North America

Maya culture

Palenque, Mexico.
Steven Newton, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other Mesoamerican cultures

El Tajin, Pyramid of the Niches
El Tajin, Pyramid of the Niches.
Jose Francisco Del Valle Mojica, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Other ancient settlements in North America

Cliff Palace
Cliff Palace, United States.
Borchert A., CC-BY-SA-3.0

South America

Ruins of Chan Chan, Peru
Ruins of Chan Chan, Peru.
Beatrice Murch, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Nan Madol, Pohnpei
Nan Madol, Pohnpei.
CT Snow, Flickr / CC BY 2.0


Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 5 February 2012 Gatis Pāvils

About this website