50 Startling Photos of Abandoned Places Around the World

By Sophia Maddox | February 6, 2024

The "Chicken Church" of Java

Come along on a trip around the world with us to visit some of the most visually stunning and occasionally haunting abandoned spaces. Each breathtaking image reflects a historically significant location once brimming with life and purpose.

Today, the following monuments stand alone as a signifier of bygone eras. From ancient fairytale-like palaces to forgotten covert military infrastructure, these abandoned buildings are a stark reminder of time's fleeting nature.

 

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Future Publishing/Getty Images

Gereja Ayam, also known under its alternative moniker The Chicken Church of Java, sits abandoned near Magelang. This peculiar underground temple is set against a dense and unrelenting Indonesian jungle. Built by Daniel Alamsjah in the 1990s, the divinely inspired monument served as a worshiping space for followers of his religion.



 

After a series of financial obstacles and resistance among locals, the structure was ultimately left unfinished and surrendered under the weight of its own wings to the surrounding jungle. Originally intended as a dove, the temple found new life as stories of it circulated the internet. The whimsical Chicken Church of Java is now decked with jewel tiling and cloud-painted ceilings. This dream-like religious monument contains 12 prayer rooms in its catacombs. Early-bird visitors can pay to tour the structure and watch the sunrise from the crown of the chicken-shaped temple.

This Scene at Holland Island, Maryland, Shows the Final Vestiges of a Sinking Chesapeake Bay Legacy

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The Washington Post / Getty Images

Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay reveals how quickly the relentless elements of the coastal wilderness can overtake human habitation. The island once supported a thriving community of fishermen and agriculturalists alike. Scores of attractive homes and peaceful shops were scattered over the islane, which included a small local church.

The sea eventually became too much for this fragile splinter of land, as residents could no longer battle the intense winds, waves, and slow erosion that began to whittle away at the island’s shorelines. By the early 20th century, despite several efforts to protect the land, erosive forces accelerated, and the community eventually retreated in search of more stable ground.