12 Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Churches Around the World

Caen, Church St-Etienne-le-Vieux, France
Sebastiaan Kroes / Getty Images

There is something a bit creepy about an abandoned building, knowing that it was once full of life and is now empty, often crumbling and taken back by nature. It’s even more haunting when it’s a church. These churches were all closed and abandoned for different reasons and have varied historic significance, but have one thing in common. These architectural marvels stand empty and abandoned, providing a fascinating look into the past. So if your curiosity is peaked, follow along to explore 12 hauntingly beautiful abandoned churches around the world.

1. Yaropolets, Russia

The Kazan Theotokos Church, though now a guarded abandoned site, is still the only Russian double-domed church which was built by the Russian Count and military General Zakhar Chernyshev.

2. Rome, Italy

The ruins of the Church of San Bonaventura stand on what was once the village of Monterano in Rome. The village and sadly its people were set on fire by the French Army during a brutal and unexpected attack at the end of the 18th century.

3. Geamăna, Romania

The village of Geamăna Romania was destroyed when the valley was flooded by polluted water from a nearby active copper mine. Today the ruins of the village church stand straight out of the toxic red colored waters.

4. Detroit, Michigan

The city of Detroit was once the 10th largest city in the United States, but due to job losses and many residents vacating, the city suffered an economic crisis and was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2013. Today many of the city’s buildings, including some churches, remain abandoned.

5. Caen, France

The beautiful ruins of the St-Etienne-le-Vieux Church still stand in Caen, France today. The church and much of the city were destroyed during The Battle of Normandy in World War II.

6. Coimbra, Portugal

The Portuguese Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha was built in the 14th century on the Mondego River in the city of Coimbra. The building had to be abandoned in the 17th century due to repeated flooding. Today the church has been restored and is open to visitors looking to see a glimpse of its beautiful history.

7. Gary, Indiana

Once a booming steel town and birthplace of the Jackson 5 musical group, this town near Chicago Illinois has seen hard times as a result of the steel industry which the city was built on. In 2013 an estimated one third of all homes were reportedly unoccupied or abandoned, as are many public buildings like the city’s Methodist Church.

8. Ross Island, India

Ross Island, part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, was held under British occupation and used as a seat of power for the British during World War II. In 1941, an earthquake shook the island causing damage and resulting in the eventual abandonment of this site. Today many ruins remain of the once lavish buildings, including the church.

9. Bodie, California

The town of Bodie, in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain range in Mono county, was booming after gold was first discovered in 1876 and the town remained vibrant during the years of 1877 to 1880. However, like most places that experienced a gold rush, all good things must come to an end and Bodie was no different. The decline started in the early 1900’s and it’s now an abandoned ghost town with many structures, including the church, still standing, reminding us of the small town’s once glorious past.

10. Ani, Turkey

Ani was once the capital city of the medieval Armenian Kingdom that covered much of what is now Armenia and Eastern Turkey. Between 961 and 1045 it played an important role as it was located along many trade routes and its buildings were considered some of the most technologically and artistically advanced in the world. Ani was later abandoned during the 16th and 17th centuries, however remnants of this ‘City of 1001 Churches’ still remain today including the Church of the Redeemer.

11. St. George’s, Bermuda

The Unfinished Church sits as a reminder of what never came to be in the small town of St. George’s on Bermuda’s northeast end. Construction on this site began in 1874 after the existing church was damaged ‘beyond repair’ by a storm. However, construction was quickly halted after a decision to repair the original church instead of building a new one was made and in 1926 a storm destroyed much of what construction had been done on the ‘Unfinished Church’. Today the site is part of the St. Georges UNESCO World Heritage Site.

12. Dumfries, Scotland

The beautiful ruins of Lincluden Collegiate Church sit on the northern outskirts of Dumfries Scotland. Founded circa 1160, this relic was later abandoned in 1700 and today the remains are a heritage protected building, which the public can still explore to this day.

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