Abandoned Settlements Europe

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Nov 03, 2014 by British Blog

In the UK, we have very few abandoned towns and villages, since space is at a premium and traditionally the British authorities have quickly developed areas that were abandoned for economic or historical reasons. Elsewhere in Europe there are several abandoned towns and villages that are open to the public. Here are just a few.

 

Balestrino, Italy

Balestrino old town is 70km south-east of Genoa, and dates back to the tenth century AD. As late as 1860, the town had almost a thousand residents, but several earthquakes caused occupants to leave, and in 1953 the last 400 were evacuated for their own safety. Confusingly, the abandoned area (old town or historic centre) is next to a newer town, also called Balestrino, which is still inhabited.

Visitors can now explore the abandoned town, which has two beautiful gothic churches and a variety of interesting flora and fauna, but the Italian Government has announced plans to re-develop the area.

 

Muli, Faroe Islands (Denmark)

The tiny settlement of Muli, on Denmark's Faroe Islands, has existed since the thirteenth century but was only given an electricity supply in 1970. Now virtually abandoned by all but holidaymakers, it offers stunning views and still has some traditional grass-roofed houses.

 

La Mussara, Spain

Overlooking the plains of Tarragona, the village of La Mussara was inhabited from around 1100 until 1959. Nobody is quite sure why it was abandoned, but it may have been due to insects destroying the local vineyards, which were the villagers’ primary source of income and employment. Now, La Mussara is slowly decaying, but its church and houses can still be explored.

 

Pelegrema, Russia

Pelegrema, which sits on the bank of Lake Onega, is an abandoned village in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. It was deserted after the Russian Revolution.

Even though the local houses are made mostly of wood, they are still largely intact. Pelegrema's chapel, which was built in the 1770s, is still almost whole.

 

Belchite, Spain

Like Balestrino, above, Belchite has an old, abandoned area and a new, inhabited area, known as 'Nuevo Belchite'.

Old Belchite was ruined by fighting between nationalist and republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, during August and September 1937. After the war, Franco commanded that the ruins of the village be preserved as a memorial.

Belchite is 50kms from Zaragoza, in a rural area of Aragon. Some areas of the village are roped off for safety, but otherwise visitors are free to explore. There is also a museum on site.

 

Slievemore, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland

The deserted settlement of Slievemore comprises around 100 stone cottages along a mile-long stretch of the base of Slievemore Mountain. Local families would traditionally bring their livestock there in the summer months to benefit from the lush local pasture, so the cottages were their summer residences. However, Slievemore was inhabited much earlier than this, in at least early medieval times, and many artefacts, including items from the Neolithic period, have been found.

To discover more about the history of the site an archaeological field school is held every summer in Slievemore.