A photograph of Craco. YAYIMAGES.

Video: This Ancient Town is the Mother of all Ghost Towns

This ancient town, whose history dates back to the eighth century BC, is the mother of all ghost towns.


Once a magnificent hilltop town with a rich history, now a desolate ghost town. This is the city of Craco in Italy. The town is located in the region of Basilicata in southern Italy. The town was abandoned due to faulty pipework. It is believed that this resulted in a landslide that led to the town being abandoned. Craco is now a popular filming location and tourist attraction as a result. The World Monuments Fund placed Craco on its watch list in 2010. As a result of safety concerns and because many of the homes that were abandoned between 1960 and 1980 are still privately owned, Craco is not open to the public. Nonetheless, the city can be accessed with guides that will take you through the city and explore its rich history.

A history dating back to the eighth century BC

The silhouette of Craco still catches passersby’s attention. It sits imposingly above the landscape on a rocky outcrop. Greeks settled Craco in the sixth century AD. However, tombs dating to the eighth century BC suggest that the ancient settlement was settled much earlier in history. Also, the town we see today, with its intricate houses and streets, is not as ancient. Its current layout dates back to the medieval period: the Normans added a watchtower in the twelfth century, followed by a series of palazzi in the centuries to follow. In the 15th century, four large palazzi were built in the town: Palazzo Maronna near the castle, Palazzo Grossi near the town’s church, and Palazzo Carbone on the Rigirones property.


A stunning town with a rich history

Throughout its history, the fortunes of the town fluctuated with those of the surrounding region. Nineteenth-century Italian unification caused upheaval in the region. A large number of young people left the town during the twentieth century in search of fortune on the new continent. A non-profit organization preserving the culture, traditions, and history of Craco was founded in 2007 by the descendants of Craco’s emigrants in the United States. The Gulf of Taranto is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from Craco. As a result of its steep summit, the town has a striking appearance and is easily distinguishable from its surroundings.

According to historians, the city was built in this particular way on the hill for defensive reasons. In the southeast, new buildings are located on a ridge that runs steeply from the town center, which is the highest point. It sits atop a cliff that rises 400 meters (1,300 feet) above the Cavone River valley.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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