Eerie photos of abandoned military sites

Take a look at the weapons, buildings and even swimming pools that are left behind when the mighty move on -- or are moved out

Joal Ryan
1 of 41 Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

Empty cells

Regimes fall. Soldiers march on. But the headquarters, the air strips and bases often remain behind. Sometimes for decades, and sometimes in disrepair. 

Here, fenced enclosures lay open at the abandoned detention facility known as Camp X-Ray at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2014. 

Originally published April 6, 2018. 

2 of 41 Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

Eyeing the past

During World War II, the US operated a base on Balta in the Galapagos Islands. In 2015, you could still find one of the hundreds of buildings, ultimately redecorated by locals. 

3 of 41 Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cut off

There are no customers -- or barbers -- at this barber shop in 2014 in the Iraq-based US Camp Adder, now known as Tallil Air Base. 

4 of 41 Ramzi Haidar/AFP/Getty Images

Bombed out

After Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003, the Hussein era's once-mighty Al-Rashid army base served as a makeshift playground to local families.  

5 of 41 In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images

Sweet dreams

Built during World War II in Norfolk, England, the Wendling base was closed in 1961. Some 40 years later, one of its bunkhouses still stood, if barely.  

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Grass wins over guns

Rusty military hardware slowly yields to a carpet of green at an abandoned air defense base by the Zheleznaya Bay in Russia.

7 of 41 Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Ghost town

At Wünsdorf, a German village and stronghold of the Cold War era in Soviet-controlled East Germany, a statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin sits outside of a military base that once was home to 75,000 soldiers.

8 of 41 Sean Gallup/Getty Images


An empty swimming pool still stands in the officers' building at Wünsdorf. The military camp reportedly was the Soviets' largest base outside of Russia.

9 of 41 J. Emilio Flores/Corbis/Getty Images

Slab City, US

Here, on 630 acres of desert in California's Imperial Valley, RVers and others literally set up makeshift homes on concrete slabs that once comprised the foundation of Camp Dunlap, a US Marine Corps base built during World War II and closed in the 1950s.  

10 of 41 David McNew/Getty Images

Shot down

In 2005, a bullet-riddled structure sits near an abandoned airstrip on the US Navy's former Salton Sea Naval Auxiliary Air Station and atomic-weapons-testing site in California's Imperial County.

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Locked up tight

This abandoned bunker complex once belonged to the Soviet military on the Brdy reservation in the Czech Republic. It's seen here in 2007. 

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Parting words

In 2014, the US military moved on, but left behind instructions, when it downsized its Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank in Afghanistan.  

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Locked away

This is a view of a bunker inside the former Soviet base Brdy, in the Czech Republic. 

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Faded beauty

Built during World War I, Fort Ord in California's Monterey County was home to as many as 50,000 soldiers during its World War II heyday. By the 1990s, it was tagged for closure; its facilities, like this swimming pool, allowed to go to waste. 

Today, much of the grounds have been drafted into service by California State University, Monterey Bay.  

15 of 41 Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

In exile

In March 2018, the Pentagon announced plans to raze the now-neglected Camp X-Ray.

16 of 41 John Cantlie/Getty Images

Left behind

In Libya in September 2011, a month after a civil war toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi, weapons abandoned by forces loyal to Gaddafi were spotted at a desert military base. 

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Explosive quiet

This is another view of the abandoned Libyan military base. Barrels of gunpowder sit in the no man's land. 

18 of 41 NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images


A moth-eaten Antonov An-2, a single-engine Cold War workhorse built by the Soviet Union (and still used by North Korea), is seen in 2015 at Bulgaria's former 26th Reconnaissance Air Base. Dobrich was closed in 2001.  

19 of 41 Giles Clarke/Getty Images

Obsolete, again

The Italian island of Lampedusa housed a radio-navigation station, turned US Coast Guard base, turned NATO base. When NATO closed the facility in the 1990s, Italy converted it into a migrant detention center. That use, too, eventually passed.  

20 of 41 Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Lonesome road

A coyote roams a runway at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, California. The facility was shuttered for good in 1999, about a year after this picture was snapped. The former station is now a multi-use complex with housing and shopping.  

21 of 41 Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Game over

As of 2010, this is what remained of a volleyball court and stands at Camp in Guantanamo Bay.

22 of 41 Geography Photos/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Into the woods

Built for the Royal Air Force during World War II, the Woodbridge station near England's Rendlesham forest became a key Cold War-era base for the US Air Force. The US left in the 1990s, but a supposed UFO landing there in 1980 kept Woodbridge on the map, literally, as this trail marker indicates.

Portions of the former base are currently used by British forces, though they're once again targeted for closure.  

23 of 41 Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Still life

This pastoral scene, captured in 2016 at the former Greenham Common Royal Air Force station in Berkshire, England, is a far cry from the early 1980s, when 35,000 gathered to protest the World War II-era base's Cold War transformation into a US hosting ground for nearly 100 nuclear-armed cruise missiles.

The facility was closed in the 1990s.    

24 of 41 Julian Herbert/Getty Images


As seen in 2016, all is quiet and dark at the control tower near Greenham Common's former cruise-missile alert and maintenance area.  

25 of 41 In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images


This painted map of the US is one of the reminders of the World War II partnership between the US Air Force and the Royal Air Force at the Bungay base in Suffolk, England. Bungay closed in the 1950s. 

26 of 41 Kurt Vinion/Getty Images


In the late 2000s, the United States considered but ultimately passed on setting up an anti-missile radar system in the abandoned Brdy Soviet military base in the Czech Republic.

27 of 41 Josef F. Stuefer/Getty Images

Shattered glass

Another reminder of the Soviet Union's far-reaching military presence in Eastern Europe could be seen in 2011 in Paldiski, Estonia, at the site of an abandoned Soviet base.  

28 of 41 Mario Tama/Getty Images

In the sand

In 2011 in Iraq, the boot prints of US soldiers are about the only things left after the Americans headed out and turned over the former Camp Adder to local forces. 

29 of 41 Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

No more questions

This was the interrogation room of the Camp X-Ray detention facility, as photographed in 2014. 

30 of 41 Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Pool closed

In Iraq in 2006, a ladder leads up from a bone-dry swimming pool at Camp Habbaniyah. Built by the British, the military base was fought over by various forces before its abandonment.

31 of 41 Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Dead med

The former detainee hospital facility is shown at Camp X-Ray in 2007.

32 of 41 Scott Olson/Getty Images

Furniture, forlorn

Here's another memory left behind by the U.S. FOB Shank in Afghanistan: an abandoned building, and its empty porch, near the city of Pol-E Alam.

33 of 41 Bill O'Leary/Washington Post/Getty Images

X-ed out

Camp X-Ray was used in 2002 and 2003 to hold prisoners of war captured during the earliest days of the US-led war in Afghanistan. Always intended to be temporary digs, the camp gained notoriety for allegations of detainee mistreatment. 

34 of 41 AFP/Getty Images

Broken home

A barrack molders at a former Soviet army military base in Mirosov, near Plzen in the Czech Republic in 2007.

35 of 41 Thierry Tronnel/Corbis/Getty Images

Skeleton crew

In the Cold War-era Baltics, in what's now Lithuania, an estimated 10,000 Soviet soldiers built an underground ballistic-missile site. Today, the only Soviet soldiers there are the dummies that "staff" the abandoned facility turned museum. 

36 of 41 Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Suburban decay

During the Cold War, 16 missile sites were installed in the Los Angeles area. Pictured are the graffiti-covered remains of LA-29, the site that stood at the ready in the Puente Hills near the L.A. County-Orange County border. LA-29 was deactivated in 1971. 

37 of 41 Jack Milton/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images

Here's looking at you, kid

This is the battered entrance to the long-closed U.S. naval prison at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in KIttery, Maine. Opened in 1908, the so-called "Alcatraz of the East" housed more than 80,000 inmates over eight decades, and, legend has it, saw sailor Humphrey Bogart socked in the mouth by an inmate he was escorting through its halls. 

38 of 41 Dmitri Beliakov/Washington Post/Getty Images

Loss of command

This is the former command center of the Soviet army compound Skrunda-1, located in Latvia. According to London's Guardian, the last resident of the so-called "secret city" moved on in 1999.

39 of 41 Richard Baker/In Pictures/Getty Images

On the run

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, soldiers were stranded in the sapped superpower's former territories. Defections were rampant. From the looks of this kitchen in a Soviet army camp in what was then East Germany, some defections were especially hasty. 

40 of 41 Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Door to yesterday

This escape hatch is one of the remains of the US nuclear-missile site known as HM-69, located within Everglades National Park in Florida. HM-69 was an active site from 1964-1979. 

41 of 41 Marvi Lacar/Getty Images


From the late 1800s to the early 1990s, minus a break during World War II, the US military maintained its largest naval base outside of the United States at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Later, the former base was said to be a source of toxic waste, including asbestos, as pictured in 2006.  

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