Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia.

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Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia (via Wikimedia)
Cambodia is the closest you can get, today, to your own real life Indiana Jones movie. There, the temples of Angkor seem built into the fabric of the forest itself, bats flap their leathery wings in the vaults, and incense drifts down the empty colonnades.
The god-kings of Angkor were at the height of their powers from the 9th century until the 15th century.
In that time, they built the largest preindustrial city in the world in Cambodia: larger than Rome, larger than Alexandria, larger by far than London or Paris at the time.
Wealth was poured into ever more spectacular temples, replete with intricate carvings and statues.
In the fifteenth century, for reasons which still puzzle scholars today, the gigantic complex was left almost entirely abandoned – lost to the jungle.
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Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia (via Wikimedia)
Early Western visitors, glimpsing the astonishing structures looming up amidst the trees, were left almost speechless.
For António da Madalena, Angkor was “of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world.”
Since the 19h century, a slow process of restoration has been taking place. While tourists flock to Angkor today, much of the site remains to be discovered, and the trees loom on all sides, ready to swallow the city up again.
via Essential Guide: Lost Cities | Atlas Obscura.

Joyland: An abandoned amusement park in Kansas.

Joyland: An abandoned amusement park in Kansas.
Joyland was once the largest theme park in central Kansas but today it remains abandoned and vandalised.
It opened in 1949 and it remained in continuous operation for 55 years, until 2004 when it shut down due to economical troubles and safety concerns.
The park had more than 24 amusement rides, a 1949 roller coaster, a miniature train (built between 1905 and 1910), and a Mammoth Military Band Organ (or Wurlitzer Style 160, built around 1905).
In 2006, maintenance works took place aiming to reopen the park again but this never happened.
Today, an organization is trying to raise funds in order to restore Joyland.
Source: Joyland: An abandoned amusement park in Kansas – Strange Abandoned Places

Is Polveglia Haunted?

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A quarantine station, a dumping ground for plague victims, more recently a mental hospital — the tiny island of Poveglia in the Venice Lagoon has served many unpleasant purposes over the years, but today it stands empty, a crumbling collection of abandoned buildings and weeds run riot just two miles from the glittering palaces of the Grand Canal.
Legends and rumors about Poveglia are nearly as pervasive as the weeds, and they read like a horror story: that so many people were burned and buried there during the black plague that the soil is 50% human ash; that local fishermen give the island a wide berth for fear of netting the wave-polished bones of ancestors; that the psychiatrist who ran the mental hospital was a butcher and torturer who went mad from guilt and threw himself from the island’s belltower, only to survive the fall and be strangled by a “ghostly mist” that emerged from the ground.
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Weary of an island in their beloved lagoon being characterized as a “festering blemish … the waves reluctantly lapping its darkened shores” (from a book called TRUE Hauntings from Around the World, emphasis not mine) or “nothing more than a cesspool of pure dread” (according to the hyperbolic host of a show called Ghost Adventures), Venetians have done what they can to tamp down overheated rumors about Poveglia.
They deny being frightened of the place and tend not to mention the plague pits or mental hospital when discussing the island’s history; a recent article in Venice magazine claimed that the institutional ruins which dominate Poveglia were nothing more than a rest home for the elderly.
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But as long as the island remains tantalizingly off-limits to tourists and crammed with rotting buildings that are just a gondola ride from some of Europe’s priciest real estate, rumors will keep flying and people will keep telling scary stories about it.
READ ON via Strange Geographies: The Happy, Haunted Island of Poveglia — mentalfloss.com.

The Port Arthur Convict Coal Mine.

The_Coal_Mines_is_one_chapter_in_the_epic_story_of_convicts_and_transportation_in_TasmaniaWhen an outcrop of coal was discovered at Plunkett Point by surveyors in 1833, immediate plans were made by the government to exploit the area.
A local supply of coal for the colony was not the only benefit envisaged by Lt. Governor Arthur:
“I think it is not possible that better employ will be found for some of the most refractory convicts than employing them in working coal mines.”
Joseph Lacey, a convict with practical mining knowledge, was sent with a small party of convict labourers to commence the work.
The first shipment of coal left the mine on 5 June 1834 aboard the Kangaroo.
The Plunkett Point mine was the first operational mine in Tasmania. Prior to its establishment most of the colony’s coal requirements had been imported from New South Wales, at great expense.
The coal was used in households and government offices for heating. Poor quality was a cause of constant complaint:
The settlement in 1839
When Lempriere (the Commissariat Officer at Port Arthur) reported on the settlement c. 1839 there were 150 prisoners and a detachment of 29 officers stationed at the mines.
Large stone barracks which housed up to 170 prisoners, as well as the chapel, bakehouse and store had been erected.
fileThe Quarters provided for the Officers assigned to guard the convicts.
Today, they form imposing sandstone ruins. On the hillside above were comfortable quarters for the commanding officer, surgeon and other officials. Remains of some of these can also still be seen.
Carts ran along rail and tram roads to the jetties for loading.
The coal mines settlement was a punishment station for Port Arthur where repeated offenders of ‘the worst class’ were sent.
Besides the men who worked underground extracting the coal, other prisoners were employed in building works, timber getting and general station duties.
Four solitary cells were constructed deep in the underground workings to punish those who committed further crimes at the mines.
Read on via Port Arthur – Coal Mines History.

Goussainville-Vieux Pays.

Goussainville-Vieux-Pays-Paris-Ghost-TownAll images by TiBo.
Just 12 miles north of central Paris lies one of the world’s most fascinating and tragic ghost towns. Wandering into the picturesque farming village of Goussainville-Vieux Pays is like stepping back in time.
Virtually abandoned for over 40 years, the end effectively came for the pretty Parisian suburb when the cutting-edge world of supersonic air travel came crashing down upon it.
For years life in Goussainville-Vieux Pays had remained peaceful. But in the mid-1960s the rural community was thrust into the proposed flightpath of Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Then, in 1973, a year before the new airport opened, the tranquility of Goussainville-Vieux Pays was shattered forever.
On June 3 that year, a Russian-built Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic airliner crashed during the Paris Airshow held at neaby Le Bourget. After an unsuccessful landing approach, the stricken jet entered a steep dive and disintegrated in mid-air.
All six crew members were killed as the remains of their aircraft crashed down onto Goussainville-Vieux Pays, destroying 15 houses and a school. A further eight people on the ground perished in the crash.
Shaken residents, some perhaps envisioning the tragedy as a harbinger of things to come, rapidly deserted the village. Others hung on, but within a year of Charles de Gaulle opening most had followed, haunted by the 1973 tragedy and no longer able the bear the constant roar of jet engines from France’s largest and busiest international airport.
Though a handful of hardy residents still occupy their original homes and businesses, the majority stand shuttered and dilapidated, as if their owners had simply disappeared.
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Read the full article via Goussainville-Vieux Pays: Haunting Parisian Ghost Town Devastated by the 1973 Airshow Crash – Urban Ghosts.

Ruins of the Mayan City of Palenque.

Palenque-2Image: Jan Harenburg,
A fairly recently discovered ruined city lying in the protective embrace of the Mexican jungles, Palenque is one of the most breathtaking of all Mayan ruins. Known for its intricate carvings and as the resting place of Pakal the Great, the city was once a thriving metropolis between 500 and 700 AD and was home to somewhere around 6,000 people at its height.
The site was only uncovered in the 1950s, and since then it’s been opened to tourists. Now, visitors can get a look for themselves at the massive stone structures, decorated with beautiful carvings, that were once the stomping grounds for one of the Maya’s greatest kings.
So intricate – and so cryptic – are the carvings that some people look at them as proof that the builders had help from a rather questionable source – extraterrestrials.
Carvings depicting bizarre symbols have alternately been interpreted as astrological or religious symbols, or symbolism implying the use of a space ship by the deceased on his way to the next world.
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Image: Mexicanwave,
Now a World Heritage Site, only a portion of Palenque’s estimated 1,500 structures have been excavated. Among those that have been thoroughly explored include Pakal the Great’s tomb, and the Temple of the Red Queen.
The latter yielded the knowledge that the Maya painted the bodies of their deceased nobility a bright red – the same red that would have been used to paint many of the buildings. For the Maya, red was the color of blood and the color of life.
Palenque was abandoned by 1000, left to be enveloped by the jungle and preserved by the same wilds that were once cut back from it. There’s plenty of theories about why people left the city, from famine caused by drought to a shift in political power.
The last date that we know the city was occupied was November 17, 799 – the date carved on a vase.
via 10 Ancient Settlements That Were Abandoned for Mysterious Reasons – Urban Ghosts.

Old Car City, a Classic Car Junkyard.

A sign in the front reads “The world’s oldest junkyard jungle, here 80 years.”
Old Car City contains over 4,000 classic cars from the mid century — most of them from year 1972 or older — strewn over 34 acres of forested property.
There are old Fords, big-finned Cadillacs and even the rare 1941 Mack milk truck.
Visiting all of them will take you over six miles of walking old-car-city.
old-car-city-11The roots of Old Car City goes back to 1931 when the Lewis family opened a general store in a small town called White, formed only a few years earlier.
They sold various items ranging from clothing to car parts, tires, and gasoline.
When the United States entered World War II, and resources such as steel and tires became scarce, the Lewis family smartly added a scrapyard business.
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They bought junk cars, scrapped them and sold the parts. By the late 1940s, the general store had turned into a full fledged auto salvage yard.
It was in this environment that Dean Lewis, the current owner of Old Car City, was born.
Dean spent his entire childhood playing with the cars.
One day he is on the racetrack, the next day he is a school bus driver. “I drove ’em a million miles. Never moved an inch!,” he told CBS News.
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Cars and trucks was all he knew. So when Dean finally acquired the business from his parents, in 1970, he had an entirely different plan.
Read on Old Car City: The World’s Largest Classic Car Junkyard | Amusing Planet

The Forgotten Chateau in the Ardennes.

castle-miranda-ardennes-belgiumAll images by Tom Blackwell – Lucid Dreams
This isn’t the first time Urban Ghosts has featured the forgotten Chateau de Noisy, venturing beyond the foreboding Gothic facade to scenes of dereliction and decay within.
castle-miranda-ardennes-belgium-5But this haunting series of photographs by urban explorer Tom Blackwell beautifully captures the atmosphere of the abandoned building in Belgium’s province de Namur.
Like many fine buildings that have fallen victim to decay, the 19th century neo-Gothic chateau also known as Miranda Castle has borne witness to a colourful and tumultuous history.
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See more Images via Urban Ghosts Miranda Castle: Foreboding Abandoned Mansion of the Ardennes – Urban Ghosts

Ghost Towns – Two Guns, Arizona.

The story behind Two Guns, originally called Canyon Lodge, is a sad one.
It all started in the 1920s, when the infamous Route 66 gained massive traffic from adventurous travellers. Many of these travellers stopped for supplies at Canyon Lodge, which was just a small trading post run by Earle and Louise Cundiff at the time.
The town’s success quickly caught the attention of the entrepreneur Harry “Two Guns” Miller, who recognized the the vast amounts of wealth to be gained there.
He convinced the Cundiffs to lease him the site for 10 years and renamed the town Two Guns.
Under Miller’s command, the town was transformed into a full-blown tourist trap, complete with its own zoo and attractions.
One of these so called “attractions” was a nearby canyon, which was the site of a battle between the Apaches and the Navajos. Inside the canyon was a cave called the Apache Death Cave, which served as a tomb for 42 Apache men.
Although the cave’s backstory is fascinating in its own right, Miller decided that it wasn’t intriguing enough for his tourists. He renamed it “Mystery Cave,” built fake ruins, sold the Apache skulls as souvenirs, and perhaps most egregiously, added a soda stand.
The town soon fell victim to a major robbery, which made relations between Miller and the Cundiffs very tense, culminating in a heated argument during which Miller shot Earle Cundiff dead.
Incredibly, Miller was acquitted at trial, but shortly thereafter, he was attacked twice by mountain lions and bitten by a Gila monster.
This trail of bad luck finally reached a tipping point in 1929, when a fire burned down the whole town.
After losing a court battle with Louise Cundiff to keep the land, Miller left. Route 66 was rerouted to the opposite canyon, and Two Guns slowly faded into obscurity, its golden days long behind it.
Source: Ghost Towns – Two Guns, Arizona – Strange Abandoned Places

‘Broken Things.

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For last week’s photography assignment in the Observer New Review we asked you to share your photos on the theme of ‘broken’. 
Here’s more of our favourites:
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via Beyond repair: readers’ photos on the theme of ‘broken’ – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian.