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Portrait by Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine via Wikimedia // Public Domain

Portrait by Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine via Wikimedia // Public Domain

10 Travel Tips From the Age of Napoleon

Portrait by Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine via Wikimedia // Public Domain

Portrait by Jacques-Antoine-Marie Lemoine via Wikimedia // Public Domain

Born in 1746, Stéphanie Félicité du Crest de Saint-Aubin was a French author and harpist who tutored young members of the French royalty. Known as Madame de Genlis, she wrote historical and romance novels as well as plays intended to teach morals to children.

Pulling on her travel experience—she trekked to Britain, Switzerland, and Germany while fleeing the French Revolution—she wrote a language book called Manuel Du Voyageur, Or, The Traveller’s Pocket Companion in the last years of the 18th century. In a series of sample dialogs, Genlis gave both advice and language scripts to help travelers find good accommodations, ask for directions, order food, and arrange for long-term stays in a foreign country. After the French Revolution, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte helped support her literary contributions by paying Genlis 500 francs per month.

Manuel Du Voyageur was so popular that it was reprinted in additional languages such as English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Although it's more than two centuries old, the book contains some surprisingly relatable and relevant advice for modern travelers. Take a look at some of Genlis’s tips:

1. ASK AROUND TO ASCERTAIN THE BEST ROADS. 

“Pray, what sort of road is it?” Inquiring about the roads around you will let you know whether they’re sandy, rocky, well paved, narrow, or full of treacherous precipices. You might ask: “Is the road very dreadful?” Ask the locals or your driver if the roads are safe, and avoid the forests when it gets dark outside.

If you have to choose between two different roads, be clear about what your goal is: “I know there are two distinct roads to go from hence to … Which is the best of them? I don’t mean by the best the shortest, but that which is in the best condition.” And if part of your journey requires mules, don’t forget to ask how many mules you'll need to safely make the trek.

2. GET A GOOD PAIR OF SHOES. 

Because some roads require walking, you’ll have to say goodbye to your mules and carriage at some point. “As you will perform a great part of this journey on foot, I advise you to get a pair of good, stout, and easy shoes made, and to take with you an umbrella, parasol, and some sheets and eatables," she writes.

3. IT’S OKAY TO BOSS YOUR DRIVER AROUND. 

According to Genlis, being a backseat driver is the way to go. Depending on the quality of the road, you should order your driver to go faster or more gently. If your driver pressures you to take a shortcut off the beaten path, hold your ground: “Driver, do not turn into any bye-road. I insist upon it; I will not leave the high-road … I will not turn into any bye-road, short as it may be.” And if you lose your shoes in the carriage, don’t be afraid to promptly instruct your driver to look for them.

4. DRUG YOURSELF TO DEAL WITH SEASICKNESS.

Before setting sail, it’s important to ask a bunch of questions about your maritime voyage: “If we have favorable weather, how long shall we be on our passage? What would be the expense of a whole gondola, or vessel, for myself? ... Are the pilots and vessels good? ... How much must I pay for the small cabin, for myself? ... How many passengers have you? Are there any ladies amongst the number? ... When shall we set sail, if the wind permits?”

After drilling down on the logistical details, know what to do when you get seasick. “I advise you to take a few drops of ether, or of Hofmann’s drops, which are a sovereign remedy against the sea-sickness. How am I to take these ethereal drops? You must pour out from fifteen to twenty-two drops into a spoon, on a small lump of sugar.” (In the 1800s, ether was used as a medical anesthetic, recreational drug, and alcohol alternative for women who didn’t drink; Hoffmann’s Drops consisted of 3 parts alcohol to 1 part ether.) 

And if you get a toothache, which “happens frequently at sea,” stay inside during the morning and evening, chew on cochlearia (a plant in the cabbage family) and sage leaves, and wash your mouth with brandy.

5. CAREFULLY EXAMINE THE BEDDING IN YOUR INN.

After the innkeeper has shown you a suitable room, make sure your room isn’t on the ground floor, doesn’t face the street (the carriages are noisy), has the number of beds you desire, and has window shutters. Then inspect the bed. Tell the innkeeper that you won’t accept rumpled sheets, and if you have a baby, check that the cradle is clean and bug-free. Some questions and instructions for the innkeeper:

“The beds must be made. Can you provide us with a mattress, instead of this feather-bed? Bring us another pillow. I should prefer a bolster to this pillow. This coverlid is dirty. It is too heavy. It is too light. Give me another. Bring us some good clean sheets. I must tell you that I shall examine them very carefully. These sheets have certainly been used already. They are damp, I will not have them, I must have some others. I have my own sheets; but I always have sheets from the inn, in order to spread them over the mattress, afterwards I spread my own over them.” 

6. WHEN YOU ORDER FOOD, BE SPECIFIC ABOUT YOUR PREFERENCES.

Just because you’re on the road doesn’t mean that you should have to give up your dietary preferences. Whether you’re asked how strong you like your coffee, if you prefer eggs poached or boiled, or how you want your meat cooked, don’t be afraid to answer truthfully. Speak up about your culinary preferences for white versus brown bread, fowl leg or wing, and sugar and cream for your tea. “I beg you will not put butter in the soup or gravy … I neither like cinnamon, nutmeg, nor cloves. Put none in the ragouts, and very little salt. I will have no mushrooms in any of the dishes.” Just make sure to thank your host or chef for their trouble.

7. IF YOU’RE SHOCKED BY SOMETHING YOU SEE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY, DON’T SHOW IT. 

Table manners are important, and politeness will take you far, especially when you’re in a foreign country. Have respect for the culture you’re visiting, even if it’s not your favorite. If you prefer the Germans’ food and way of life to the English, don’t show your disdain: “In traveling, we must accustom ourselves to the different usages of the countries through which we pass, not appear astonished at any thing, and above all, not to despise any thing.” 

8. ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH A FIRST AID KIT.

Accidents happen on the road, so be prepared. If one of your horses falls down and your driver gets hurt, first tend to the injured, then whip out your first aid kit. According to Genlis, you might say: “I always carry with me every thing that is requisite in such accidents. Reach me my small casket. In this casket are bandages of linen, good plasters, Cologne water, fine parchment, brandy, two viols…” And show compassion to anyone who’s injured: “Take courage, my friend! Your fall does not appear to be dangerous. Poor man! I sympathize greatly with your sufferings, I assure you.”

Treating a bruise, a hole in someone’s head, or gushing blood requires different tools. “He has a hole in his head. We must first wash the wound well with fresh water, and afterwards apply a rag to it dipped in Cologne water mixed with fresh water … Afterwards, if the bleeding continues with the same violence, we must apply sugar well pounded to the wound. I have some in my box.” 

9. STAND FIRM WHEN YOUR SERVANT HAGGLES FOR A BIGGER TIP. 

Traveling can be expensive, and it’s easy to overpay when you’re in a new place and don’t know the going rates. Negotiation takes practice, so whether your driver tries to shake you down for a bigger tip or your servant tells you that your heavy carriage will incur an extra fee, consider these sample dialogs: 

“How! are you not satisfied? You drove me well, certainly, but I have paid you handsomely. If you had driven us better, I should have given you more. I generally give to a coachman who drives well ...”

“I ought to pay no more than the regular charge…I assure that it is not heavy, neither has it much weight to carry. In short, I have hitherto done very well with two or four horses, and I shall certainly take no more.” 

10. ASK YOUR DOCTOR TO HELP YOU FIND A BATHTUB.

Getting sick when you’re away from home is tough. But Genlis has you covered, whether you come down with gout, rheumatism, a fever, a pain in your neck, jingling in the ears, nose bleeding, diarrhea, or a dullness and confusion in your head. Ask the physician who comes to treat you at your inn about the healing powers of bathing: 

“Do you think, sir, that bathing would be beneficial to me? ... But what shall I do for a bathing-tub? It is very difficult to procure one, even if we pay dear for the loan of it. Would you oblige me so far as to procure me one? ... Pray tell the maid to procure a tub large enough for me to bath in. When will you have the tub? ... How long must I stay in the water? ... How often am I to bathe?” 

And even if you’re not sick, ask your innkeeper to bring you a pail or bucket of lukewarm water (with soap mixed in) so you can dip your feet in. Warm water always feels nice on feet that are tired from traveling.

 [h/t Wonders & Marvels]

All images via iStock except where noted.

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40 Years Later: Watch The Johnny Cash Christmas Show
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Over the course of his career, Johnny Cash made a series of Christmas TV specials and recorded a string of Christmas records. In this 1977 TV performance, Cash is in great form. He brings special guests Roy Clark, June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman" starts around 23:50), Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers. Tune in for Christmas as we celebrated it 40 years ago—with gigantic shirt collars, wavy hair, and bow ties. So many bow ties.

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30 Cities Around the World That No Longer Exist
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An old Norwegian legend tells of a village that was left utterly depopulated by the Black Death, forgotten, and soon overgrown by moss and trees. Years later, a hunter missed a shot and his arrow hit the bell of what is now known as Hedal Stave Church, rediscovering this abandoned village.

Whatever the truth (or otherwise) of this legend, history is filled with cities that emerged and then were abandoned or forgotten. Some have been rediscovered, and others are still out there, waiting to be found.

1. STABIAE, ITALY

Mount Vesuvius
Paull Young, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When Vesuvius exploded in 79 CE, its most famous victims were the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but other towns and villas were buried as well, places such as Boscoreale or Oplontis. The one with the oddest story though is Stabiae. Pliny the Elder recorded that the town had been destroyed by Sulla during the Social War in 89 BCE so completely that only a single farmhouse remained. At some point afterwards, the area was turned into luxury villas—that is, until the eruption of Vesuvius, which destroyed it once again.

In the mid-18th century, archaeologists discovered the ruins of both Pompeii and Stabiae. After some initial excavation work, focus was concentrated on Pompeii, and Stabiae was reburied to protect it. Eventually, the site was forgotten—until the 1950s, when a local high school principal decided to rediscover it. Working with the school’s janitor and a mechanic, they found several archaeological sites, and excavation continues today.

2. DEAD CITIES, SYRIA

Dead Cities, Syria
MEZAR MATAR/AFP/Getty Images

The Dead Cities are a group of around 40 villages in northern Syria that date to the 1st through 7th centuries CE. According to UNESCO, "the relict cultural landscape of the villages also constitutes an important illustration of the transition from the ancient pagan world of the Roman Empire to Byzantine Christianity." They were abandoned quickly, either due to shifting trade routes, weather changes, or a pattern of invasion between the Byzantines and the Umayyads.

But people are returning to the Dead Cities. In 2013, an NPR report described modern smokestacks on the landscape, as refugees began moving into the area.

3. CHAN CHAN, PERU

The walls of Chan Chan, Peru.

Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu Kingdom, and is believed to have been the largest city in the Pre-Columbian Americas. The kingdom lasted from circa 900 to 1470, when it was conquered by the Inca. The city began a rapid decline afterwards, to the point that when the Spanish arrived the city had already been effectively abandoned.

4. HASHIMA ISLAND, JAPAN

Hashima Island, Japan
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Also known as Gunkanjima or Battleship Island, this small island off the coast of Japan is thought to have been the most densely populated place on the planet in the 1950s, with over 5000 people crammed onto a 16-acre island (that works out to a population density of 200,000 people per square mile; Manhattan is around a third of that). Made famous as the location of the villainous lair in the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall, Hashima Island was operated for years by Mitsubishi as a coal mine. But when the mine closed in 1974, the island was abandoned.

5. BANNACK, MONTANA

An abandoned home in Bannack, Montana.
Edward Mitchell, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannack is generally listed as the first boomtown in Montana: The population rose from a few hundred to thousands of individuals in just a few years after gold was discovered in a nearby creek in 1862. Sadly, by the time it was made Montana’s first territorial capital, the city was already in decline due to crime and other gold deposits being discovered elsewhere in the territory. Less than a year later the territorial capital was moved to Virginia City. In 1954 the state of Montana acquired most of the land, and today it's Bannack State Park.

6. EASTERN SETTLEMENT, GREENLAND

Eastern coast of Greenland.
Mariusz Kluzniak, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Founded by Norse explorers around 986 CE, it's estimated that at its largest, the Eastern Settlement in Greenland had around 5000 people living in the area. By the late 15th century the community had disappeared, leaving only ruins, with the last record of life there being a 1408 marriage between Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdottir. By the time Hans Egede arrived in the 1720s to convert the long-lost colonists to Lutheranism, the Norse Greenlanders had disappeared.

What happened to the settlement has long been debated, but recent archaeology has indicated that Greenland’s exports had ceased being in demand, and as the community became more and more remote, people began migrating back to more centralized communities in Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.

7. CONSONNO, ITALY

Consonno, Italy
Spline Splinson, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Consonno was originally a medieval town that survived for centuries with a small population of around 300. But in 1962, an entrepreneur named Mario Bagno arrived to convert the community into a Las Vegas-style resort town. Years of construction and demolition followed, until 1976, when a landslide isolated Consonno and ended Bagno's dream of a "City of Toys." The area remained abandoned until 2016, when it hosted an Italian hide-and-seek championship.

8. LOST CITY, FLORIDA

Waterway in the Everglades.
Mike Mahaffie, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

According to South Florida's Sun-Sentinel, deep in the Everglades there was a place called Lost City, and archaeologists have found evidence of human activity, from Seminoles to hiding Confederate soldiers, stretching back hundreds of years. For some reason though, activity spiked in the early 1900s when local legend says that Al Capone had a bootlegging operation there, thanks to the area's high ground and remote location.

9. FORT MOSE, FLORIDA

Location of Fort Mose.
Waters.Justin, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

In the late 17th and 18th centuries, Florida was an area of Spanish land next to several English colonies. In order to help protect against English encroachment and weaken the nearby colonies, the Spanish in Florida offered a form of asylum to escaped slaves in exchange for converting to Catholicism and serving Spain. This gave rise to Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, otherwise known as Fort Mose, on the outskirts of St. Augustine. While it was largely established to protect St. Augustine from British attack, the site is also the earliest known European-sanctioned free black community in the modern United States. The fort was destroyed in 1740 [PDF] and rebuilt, but lost much of its importance. After the Spanish gave Florida to Britain in 1763, the community moved to Cuba.

10. KOLMANSKOP, NAMIBIA

The abandoned town of Kolmanskop, Namibia.
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

In the early 20th century, Kolmanskop played host to European opera companies, an orchestra, and even the southern hemisphere's first X-ray unit. The city was built on an extremely productive diamond field (the BBC estimates that it produced a million carats of diamond in 1912, 12 percent of the world’s production that year). Eventually, World War I and the discovery of larger deposits further south led to the abandonment of the city.

11. CENTRALIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Smoke coming up from cracked concrete in Centralia, Pennsylvania.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

In 1960, the population of Centralia, Pennsylvania was 1435 people. By 2010 it was 10. Although the city was already on the decline, it was a decades-long coal fire that killed the city. Although there are some dissenters, it's generally agreed that in 1962, some trash was set on fire and the fire spread to a coal seam. The fire continued to burn and, among other scary events, in 1981 a 13-year-old boy narrowly escaped falling into a hole that opened up in the ground. The government bought most of the remaining citizens out, but a few residents fought to be able to live out their lives there.

12. LITTLE AMERICA, ANTARCTICA

Aerial view of Antarctica.
Eli Duke, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

There were five Little Americas over the course of several decades. One of them even featured an American post office and had a newspaper documenting the goings-on. In fact, the only odd part was that it was in Antarctica. Robert Byrd set up the first Little America in 1928, expanded it in 1933-'35, and started a new Little America further north in 1940; two more would eventually follow.

As part of the 1933 Little America, Charles Anderson was sent to run a post office (the Smithsonian has his safe, labeled "U.S. Post Office, Little America, South Pole"). The purpose of this post office was entirely so that philatelists could get a cancellation mark from Antarctica. To get it they had to pay three cents for the stamp and 50 cents to the Byrd Antarctic Expedition; it was a success—anywhere from 150,000 to 240,000 [PDF] letters were stamped before the post office was discontinued in 1935.

As for the Little Americas, they've drifted out to sea on icebergs and have disappeared.

13. TRELLECH, WALES

Area around Trellech.
Andy Walker, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to ancient tax rolls, the second largest town in 13th century Wales was likely Trellech, which comprised about 400 buildings before being destroyed, most likely due to a combination of attacks, fire, and disease.

In early 2017, newspapers around the world reported the discovery of Trellech. The story is that in 2002 archaeology graduate Stuart Wilson, working at a tollbooth, learned of a farmer who found pottery shards kicked up by moles. Years later, the property came up for sale and Wilson bought it, hoping to find Trellech, which he claims that he did. Meanwhile, other researchers have criticized the results saying that they're overblown and archaeological work was being done in the broad area before. As for Wilson, he hopes to start a campsite at the area and continues digging.

14. HUMBERSTONE, CHILE

Abandoned town of Humberstone, Chile.
MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, saltpeter was huge business as a fertilizer, and much of it came from the Atacama Desert in South America. One of these mining towns was Humberstone, but the modern UNESCO area contained over 200 saltpeter works and dozens of towns popped up. When synthetic fertilizers began appearing, however, saltpeter lost its importance and the cities faded away.

15. AKROTIRI, GREECE

Excavation of Akrotiri, Greece
Bruno Vanbesien, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Today, Santorini is a picturesque tourist spot, but many visitors don't realize it is located on the remnants of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in human history. Called the Thera or Minoan eruption, it was likely around 4 times the size of Krakatoa. One of the settlements on the island at the time of the eruption nearly 3600 years ago was Akrotiri. Like Pompeii, it was buried by the volcano, but unlike that famed excavation site, there's a noticeable lack of bodies at Akrotiri, indicating that the population had enough warning to escape before the eruption occurred.

16. TAXILA, PAKISTAN

Monastery ruins in Taxila, Pakistan.

Taxila is a complex that spans 6th century BCE Achaemenian ruins. The city was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and was a major center of Buddhism. In the 5th century CE, the Ephthalites invaded and destroyed much of the city while simultaneously lessening the presence and influence of Buddhism in the region. When the Ephthalites were defeated, the city wasn't restored, and a century later a chronicler noted that the city was still desolate, soon to be abandoned.

17. PYRAMIDEN, NORWAY

A sign for the abandoned town of Pyramiden, Norway.
DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Svalbard is an archipelago in the far north Arctic Ocean. Before 1920, it existed as an international Wild West, with no nation having ownership. This changed with the Svalbard Treaty that gave the archipelago to Norway on the condition that Norway not unduly interfere with certain rights of other signatories, such as mining activities, based on nationality.

The Norwegians had already attempted to mine coal in the area, but abandoned it, and the Soviet Union stepped in to work the land. According to Bloomberg, as an effectively Western city, Pyramiden had a very high standard of living, recruited the best minds, and served as a display for Communism to the rest of the world. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Pyramiden stopped being economically viable, and after a 1996 plane crash that killed 141 people and destroyed morale in the community, it was abandoned in 1998.

18. MERV, TURKMENISTAN

Camels grazing near ruins in Merv, Turkmenistan.
David Stanley, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It's possible that Merv in modern Turkmenistan was the largest city in the world for a few years in the 12th century, with a population around 200,000 people. Merv's wealth came from a strategic position for trade routes and dams that provided the city with water.

In the 13th century, one of Genghis Khan's sons, Tolui, attacked, destroying the city. Although modern historians think it's exaggerated, the chronicler Ibn al-Athir claimed that 700,000 people were killed. The city never recovered, although other towns would be built in the surrounding area.

19. CAHOKIA, ILLINOIS

Cahokia mounds.
Steve Moses, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Cahokia, located just outside present day St. Louis, was the largest pre-Columbian settlement in the Americas north of modern Mexico. As the main bed of the Mississippian culture, the city grew quickly—some estimates indicate that between 1050 and 1100 CE the city grew from around 2000 people to 15,000 people, which at the time was the same population as London [PDF]. For reasons that are still debated, the population soon declined and Cahokia was abandoned circa 1350. It may not have been all bad though—some historians suspect that the population decline is what helped spread the Mississippian culture across much of North America.

20. NAN MADOL, FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA

Ruins at Nan Madol.
NOAA Photo Library, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Nan Madol, off the shore of Pohnpei, is best known as the only existing ancient city built on top of a coral reef. Comprising 92 artificial islands, the city served as the center of the Saudeleur dynasty who ruled the island. According to the National Park Service, Nan Madol was built around 1200 CE. Four hundred years later, a warrior-hero named Isokelekel helped overthrow the Saudeleur, leading to the abandonment of the site.

21. MOLOGA, RUSSIA

Church ruins in the Rybinsk Reservoir.
Ylliab Photo, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When the Soviets decided to create the Rybinsk Reservoir on the Volga River in the 1930s, there was only one problem: Mologa and over 600 smaller villages, with a population of around 130,000 people. The residents were forced out, although there is evidence that around 300 people refused to leave and were drowned when the city was flooded in 1940. In 2014, the weather caused the reservoir to drop dramatically, re-exposing parts of the city to the world.

22. NEVERSINK, NEW YORK

The Neversink Reservoir circa 2012.
rabbit57i, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Another set of flooded towns exist in New York, condemned in the 1940s to give New York City more drinking water. Among these towns are Bittersweet and the either ironically or aptly named Neversink, which was relocated.

These cities are not alone. Communities being destroyed by reservoirs are so common there's a genre of fiction called “reservoir noir” that deals with intentionally flooded towns.

23. SAN JUAN PARANGARICUTIRO, MEXICO

Abandoned church in San Juan Parangaricutiro, Mexico.
Matthew Fuentes, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

San Juan Parangaricutiro used to be the principal town in its region of Mexico, a thriving city of 4000 people centered by an 18th century church. But on February 20, 1943, around two kilometers away, a volcano started forming on a farmer's land. After a day it was 150 feet high, and by the end of that year it was over a thousand feet.

Ash began covering nearby villages, and everyone was evacuated. There were only three recorded fatalities, all due to lightning from the eruption. Eventually, the lava reached San Juan Parangaricutiro and the church was partially buried. Today, it's a tourist site.

24. HALLSANDS, UK

The remnants of Hallsands, UK.
steve p2008, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

On the night of January 26, 1917, the fishing village of Hallsands in Devon fell into the sea. Amazingly, no one died, but the majority of the town's 128 people were left homeless (only one house survived the storm). And the cause was entirely human.

Twenty years earlier, the British government had decided to expand a nearby naval dockyard, and in 1897 began dredging the area for sand and gravel—the same material that was protecting Hallsands from the rough waters. In 1900, part of the sea wall was destroyed by a storm, and dredging was soon stopped. But in 1917, a combination of gales and high tides destroyed the city. While the government strenuously denied responsibility, recent research has uncovered a report that showed the dredging conclusively caused the collapse.

25. LUKANGOL, SOUTH SUDAN

A burned house and bicycle in South Sudan.
Arsenie Coseac, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Lukangol was a city of 20,000 in South Sudan that was completely destroyed in late 2011 due to ethnic clashes. According to an MSF spokesperson in the area, the town had been reduced to ashes, thought most of the population was able to escape before the attack.

26. ARAVICHY, BELARUS

Old war memorial in an abandoned town in Belarus.
Ilya Kuzniatsou, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Much of the discussion of abandoned cities following the Chernobyl disaster is focused on Pripyat in Ukraine, but across the border, 70 percent of the radioactive fallout fell on Belarus, causing an estimated 470 villages and towns to be evacuated. Today, these communities, such as Aravichy and Dronki, exist in the Polessye State Radioecological Reserve, which has turned into a large scale nature preserve.

27. PLYMOUTH, MONTSERRAT

Sign prohibiting entrance into Plymouth, Montserrat.
Chuck Stanley, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano began erupting, and in 1997 a pyroclastic flow destroyed the city of Plymouth, once home to 4000 people, and the surrounding area of Montserrat, a British territory in the Caribbean. Today, around 60 percent of the island is an exclusion zone that can only be visited with special permission, including Plymouth. What makes Montserrat odd is that Plymouth is still technically the capital of the island, although in reality the capital is Brades.

28. SURVIVAL TOWN, NEVADA

A building built to test a nuclear reaction in Survival Town, Nevada.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Only a nickname, Survival Town is an odd city because no one ever actually lived there. It was built expressly to test the damage resulting from the Apple-2 nuclear test in 1955. According to Archaeology, the town was fitted with utilities, industrial buildings, cars, fully stocked kitchens, and even a propane tank farm alongside dozens of mannequins. Today, a few buildings survive from the site, but according to Colleen Beck of the Desert Research Institute, something more fashionable may also have survived. She told Archaeology in 2014 "There’s a J.C. Penney page—it must be from this test—that shows mannequins before and after…You have this 'before' picture of the dressed mannequin, and afterwards sometimes an arm's gone, or whatever. But the J.C. Penney clothes survive fine."

29. AKKAD, IRAQ

Map of Akkadian Empire.
Patrick Gray, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The Akkadian Empire took its name from the capital city, Akkad (or Agade). And apart from that, very little is known of the city. Legend says that Sargon built the city (or possibly restored it) and created an empire in the 24th century BCE. The Akkadian Empire lasted around two centuries before collapsing over reasons that historians still debate. Today, the location of the capital city of the empire remains unknown, as do many of the details of its rise and fall.

30. PAITITI, PERU

The Andes Mountains.
icelight, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Paititi is a legendary lost city somewhere in the Andes said to be rich with gold. Some scholars dispute its existence, saying that it was a metaphor instead of a city, or that it was created to distract invading Spaniards. Other scholars insist that it's real, and in 2008 officials in a Peruvian town announced that they discovered it along a heavily forested section of the mountains. Soon after, experts denounced their find as a natural formation, meaning the real Paititi remains lost.

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