What exactly is it about abandoned places that attracts our attention in such a mystifying way?

Is it their storied pasts? Their eerie aesthetics? The way they allow us to effortlessly engage our imaginations as we wonder about what they might have been like in their prime?  

“Certainly, there's an aesthetic component to decaying buildings, an opportunity to enjoy these buildings outside of their original context and stumble upon unusual images that don't present themselves in intact structures,” wrote i09 blogger Lauren Davis.

But, as Davis goes on to point out, this isn’t the only reason so many people are fascinated by parks, hospitals, castles and entire towns that have been utterly abandoned and long untouched.
Slideshow: Hauntingly Beautiful Abandoned Places Around the World

Some who seek to explore, photograph or even just observe abandoned places are interested in learning about and preserving history, while others are simply interested in the out-of-the-ordinary things you’d likely never find elsewhere.

“[T]he real amusement comes from the ridiculous things I constantly stumble upon,” 2e, a photographer who posts his photos of decaying New York on gotham ruins, told Davis. “A manmade space over time with very little manmade disruption brings about things you'd never expect; trees growing out of piles of documents, books being repurposed as beehives, newspapers from the 30's, that kind of stuff. Then you step out of this building and you're back in the real world—a bustling block in Williamsburg or steps from City Hall, iPhones and all. Much of the appeal is the time machine I guess.”

Whether you’re intrigued by the unusual or love a deserted building that has its own great ghost story, we’re sure you’ll feel enchanted and maybe even spooked by these hauntingly beautiful abandoned places from around the world.