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Originally published Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 7:12 PM

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Eerie visits to far-flung, ghostly places

Abandoned towns make spooky destinations.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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Want to travel to spooky places? Rather than focusing on Halloween-type haunted destinations, members and editors of compiled a list of places that have been abruptly abandoned, their emptiness making them eerie destinations. A sampling:

Hashima Island, Japan

Hashima Island, about 12 miles off the port of Nagasaki, once had more than 5,000 full-time residents, despite the island’s being only 1,575 feet long and about 500 feet wide. The island had coal mines, and dense, multistory housing was built to accommodate workers and their families, making it resemble a battleship. It was nicknamed “Gunkanjima,” or “battleship island” in Japanese.

When the mine was closed in April 1974, residents had to leave. The island remained closed to the public for many years, slowly deteriorating from typhoons and lack of upkeep. In 2009, tour boats began heading to Gunkanjima, and the 45-minute tours of the abandoned island are now popular. (And some exterior views of the eerie island were included in the James Bond film “Skyfall.”)

Prypiat, Ukraine

While the town of Prypiat isn’t well-known, the catalyst for its abandonment is a name that people know all too well: Chernobyl.

The Ukrainian town of Prypiat lies within the “zone of alienation,” 18 miles from the catastrophically failed Chernobyl nuclear power plant. On April 26, 1986, Prypiat was evacuated due to the explosion and subsequent radiation leak at Chernobyl (which, with Prypiat, was within the now-dissolved Soviet Union).

Today, visitors can take a tour of Pripyat, Chernobyl and the surrounding villages which were abandoned because of radiation danger. The buildings, classrooms and structures are a desolate testament to the late Soviet era.

Kayaköy, Turkey

Nestled into the hills of the Taurus Mountains, the village of Kayaköy at one time was inhabited by 2,000-plus Greek Orthodox citizens, who referred to the town as Levissi or Karmylissos, despite its location in Turkey.

In 1923, after World War I and the Greco-Turkish War, Greece and Turkey agreed to a compulsory population exchange based on religious ideology, forcing Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece to move.

The citizens of Kayaköy were repatriated to Greece. The abandoned village serves as a museum and historical monument, illustrating the human fallout from wars and political change.

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