Ghost Town: Craco

Thursday, 9th September 2010 by

In the far south of Italy there is a medieval hill town called Craco which was abandoned due to the instability of the ground it had stood on for centuries.

Historians believe a community was first established in the area in the 8th century, though most of the notable structures in the village date to the 12th and 13th centuries – including the castle tower which is visible for miles around.

In the early part of the 20th century, poor farming conditions in the region prompted many in the region to join thousands of their countrymen in a wave of emigration to the United States.1

Craco was originally built on a rocky outcrop for defensive reasons, but over time, weathering of the unstable rock and soil became dangerous, particularly when coupled with seismic activity in the region. Starting in the late 1950s, a number of landslides made parts of the town unsafe to the point where the 1800 residents had to be relocated2 to a nearby town now known as Craco Peschiera.

The original village of Craco consists of two distinct areas – the upper section is still abandoned, but there are still people living in the lower section.

Street View gives us several stunning looks at the village from the surrounding countryside:

… along with closeup views of some of the abandoned buildings:

Despite being uninhabited, there’s a surprising amount of activity in the abandoned part of the village, with regular festivals taking place in connection with the many Churches. Craco has also been used as a location for the filming of several films, including Quantum of Solace and The Passion of the Christ.

More information can be found at Wikipedia.

This post is part of an occasional series where we visit some of the world’s most interesting abandoned places.

  1. There’s an association of descendants active in New York. 

  2. In researching this article I came across information that gave the date of abandonment as the mid-1960s, early 1970s, and even the early 1990s. I chose not to include a specific date!