Mansions to Mines: 7 Abandoned Wonders of Modern Africa

Abandoned Places in Africa Ghost Towns

Ranging from eerie, remote desert settlements in the hottest place on earth to perfectly pastel modern ghost towns, Africa’s standout abandonments are as diverse and fascinating as the continent itself. A Star Wars set is slowly swallowed by the sand in Tunisia, skeletons of ships serve as warnings to sailors on the coast of South Africa, and a vast Chinese-built housing development waits for half a million new residents in Angola.

Tattooine: Abandoned Star Wars Set, Tunisia

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Abandoned Africa Star Wars Set 2

(images via: fastco)

Left to dry out in the blazing desert sun for over 35 years, the Lars Homestead set from Star Wars Episode IV was recently rediscovered by New York-based photographer Rä di Martino. An area of Tunisia near the oasis city of Tozeur has been used as a dramatic backdrop for many films, including Raiders of the Lost Ark and The English Patient. In addition to Luke Skywalker’s childhood home, di Martino found several other Star Wars sets, documented in a series she calls Every World’s a Stage.

Tunisia was used as a location for scenes in every Star Wars movie except Episode V, including Ben Kenobi’s hut, Grand Dune where R2-D2 and C-3PO crash in Episode IV, the Slave Quarters Row and the canyon where Luke meets Ben. Pictures taken by fans who make pilgrimages to the set have revealed that, in time, it will be swallowed up by the desert sands.

Abandoned Mining Town of Kolmanskop, Namibia

Abandoned Africa Kolmanskop 2

Abandoned Africa Kolmanskop 1Abandoned Africa Kolmanskop 3

Abandoned Africa Kolmanskop 5

(images via: wikimedia commons, geoftheref, coda)

The sands have already claimed one abandoned village in Namibia. Kolmanskop was once a bustling mining village filled with German diamond miners who built mansions in the style of their home country. It had a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, theater, sport hall, casino, the first x-ray station in the Southern Hemisphere and the first tram in Africa. But after World War I, the diamonds were gone, and the miners began to leave. Kolmanskop was abandoned altogether by 1954, and since then, winds have swept knee-high drifts of sand into the open doors and windows of the architecture left behind. Some homes are almost entirely buried. The ghost town is now a popular tourist destination.