Situated on the banks of the Meuse, this former university once produced some of the finest mathematicians in Belgium. Empty since 2005, it now serves as a magnet for urban explorers, thanks to its sheer size and air of otherworldly decay. Brutal modernist corridors of reinforced concrete join unexpectedly with pristine classrooms – some perfectly preserved, others a mess of broken tables and discarded needles. Thanks to the angular architecture, the entire interior gives off a vibe entirely hostile to organic matter; like the building was never intended to house life and has stood empty since it was first constructed. Currently, the city of Liege is planning a major redevelopment of the complex for 2015 – putting a strict time limit in place for any planned exploration.
This abandoned school in Brussels may well be the creepiest on our list. Once a city-spanning veterinary school, the main building was abandoned after the faculty relocated: leaving their specimen collection behind to gather dust. The result is a grotesque warehouse where jars of pickled organs skulk beyond the reach of sunlight and shelves overflowing with lungs, hearts and brains seemingly stare back at unsuspecting visitors with something like reproach. Gruesome, unnerving and frankly just a little bit odd, this Flemish monument to death is like stepping into a brutal work by Damien Hirst – only significantly more likely to leave you feeling deeply disturbed.
A long-standing demolition order on Bennett College (supposed to be carried out in 2012, but still unenforced as of 2013) means the heavily-rotted building may disappear at any time. When this happens, urban exploration will lose one of its finest abandoned buildings. Constructed around a failed hotel-venture in 1907, the school looks like a cross between Hogwarts and a Tim Burton set: turrets, towers and arches support rotted timber classrooms, alongside an explosion of vegetation that has made its home in the upper floors. Wild animals flit in and out with ease and the whole building comes across as a strictly archetypal design for a post-apocalyptic world. Nonetheless it’s a strangely beautiful one, the sort of place where you can spend hours exploring or even longer simply sitting there, reflecting on the decades of memories long since swept away.
The archetypal abandoned boarding school, Lillesden School for Girls closed down in 1999 and has become a mecca for explorers, ‘radical’ artists and film crews ever since. Much, much bigger than it appears from the outside, this broken shell resembles at times a Chinese Puzzle Box – thanks in large part to the number of strange surprises stored beyond the various security doors. From the demonic graffiti in the old bathrooms, to the partially-collapsed gym and the occasional – unexpected – appearance of strange sculptures left by local art collectives, this great, shambling ruin contains enough weirdness to fill a particularly gothic carnival. It’s also the site of several cult films and TV shows of the past decade: with both 28 Days Later and Doctor Who filming scenes here.
Taking the creepiness of abandoned locations to a whole new level, West Virginia’s Lake Shawnee Amusement Park is not just dilapidated, rusty and run-down - it’s also allegedly haunted.
Way back in 1783, a band of Shawnee Indians massacred a family of white settlers at Clover Bottom (now known as Shawnee Lake), brutally killing and scalping two children and burning another at the stake. The land, which was also a Native American burial ground, was bought sometime in the 1920s… and turned into an amusement park. Now there’s a brilliant idea!
Not surprisingly, the Lake Shawnee Amusement Park went on to become the sight of some pretty horrific events, tragic accidents that resulted in the drowing of a young boy and the death of a young girl. The park was shut down in 1966 and has since been studied by many paranormal investigators, who all claim that the abandoned park is a hotbed of paranormal activity. The voices of children are heard and swings have been known to move all by themselves, freaky occurences that have led to Lake Shawnee Amusement Park being named one of the most terrifying places in America by the Travel Channel, and one of the ten most haunted places in the world by ABC.
Normally closed off to the public, the still-standing amusement park is opening up for tours beginning on October 25th, which will run through Halloween night. Tours begin at dusk, and all attendees are encouraged to bring their own flashlights. If you’re interested in a haunted excursion that’s sure to provide chills and thrills, you can call 304-487-1819 or 304-921-1580, for more information!