Saturday, 18 August 2012


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Amazing Buildings Devoured by Sand
The World Geography, 17 August 2012.

The deserts and sands are the best landscapes for finding old and abandoned buildings. The arid climate lends itself to preservation, and there is little danger of serious decay or damage from flooding. At the same time, the sand is an ever-shifting geographic feature that can swallow whole towns both quickly (as in a violent sandstorm) or slowly (as it shifts over time). This article deals with the partially buried buildings in sand, some of which were abandoned for hundreds of years, and some only a few years.

1. Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, Denmark

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Lighthouse in 2000 (link)

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse is located on the coast of the North Sea in Rubjerg, in the Jutland municipality of Hjørring in northern Denmark. It was first lit on December 27, 1900. Construction of the lighthouse began in 1899.

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Lighthouse in 2009 (link)

In the last few decades more and more sand built up around this light house. The people there tried to fight against the sand, but it didn't help. They couldn't keep the lighthouse and put a museum and a cafeteria in the old buildings. But the endless fight against the sand seemed quite useless. In 1999 they finally gave up completely and gave nature back what it demanded. [Link1, Link2, Map]

2. The Buildings of the Abandoned Town of Kolmanskop, Namibia

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Kolmanskop is an abandoned town in the Namib desert in southern Namibia, a few kilometres inland from the port town of Lüderitz. It was named after a transport driver named Johnny Coleman who, during a sand storm, abandoned his ox wagon on a small incline opposite the settlement. Once a small but very rich mining village, it is now a popular tourist destination run by the joint firm NamDeb (Namibia-De Beers).

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The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand.

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The interior of one of the houses in Kolmanskop (link)

Kolmanskop is popular with photographers for its settings of the desert sands' reclaiming this once-thriving town. Due to its location within the restricted area (Sperrgebiet) of the Namib desert, tourists need a permit to enter the town. [Link, Map]

3. Tilsandede Kirke (The sand buried church), Denmark

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At first glance, the Tilsandede Kirke, located in Skagen, Denmark, isn't much to look at. However, the small, white tower that can be seen is only one part of the whole church. The rest of the church remains buried under the earth, hence the name, which means Sand-Buried Church.

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The Tilsandede Kirke closed in 1795 after sandy winds continuously built up dunes around the church. Locals used the stones from several parts of the church for other buildings in the area. After much research, the location of the nave and vestry was discovered and marked with stakes for visitors. [Link, Map]

4. Houses in the Village of Araouane, Mali

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Araouane or Arawan is a small village in the Malian Sahara, lying 243 km (151 mi) north of Timbuktu on the caravan route to Taoudenni. Araouane has just over 300 inhabitants divided into 45 families.

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The surrounding desert is completely barren and the harmattan wind blows sand that accumulates against the walls of the buildings. The rainfall is too little to permit any agriculture and the village is dependent on the caravan trade which nowadays is restricted to the transport of salt blocks from the mines at Taoudenni, 420 km (261 mi) to the north. Between the 16th and 19th centuries Araouane acted as an entrepôt (trading fort) in the important trans-Sahara trade. [Link, Map]

5. Mosque Minaret, Egypt

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This 1100 year old mosque was discovered near the town of Al Burullus along Egypt’s Mediterranean coastline. Archaeologists discovered in only recently, and speculate that there could be an entire town buried beneath the sand. The minaret is believed to be 30 meters (100 ft) tall, but only the very tip is showing above the sand. [Link]

6. Old Telegraph Station at Eucla, Australia

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Eucla is a Western Australia locality situated in the Goldfields-Esperance region. It is approximately 11 to 13 km (7-8 mi) west of the South Australian border. It has a population of about 50 people.

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A tourist favourite in Eucla is the Old Telegraph Station. Located in the southern part of the town, the Old Telegraph Station of Eucla was considered to be one of the most important telegraph stations on the line. Now, it is simply a collection of old stone wall remnants that slightly disappear in the white sand dunes of the Great Australian Bight. [Link, Map]

7. Houses in the town of Chinguetti, Mauritania

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Chinguetti is medieval trading centre in northern Mauritania. Founded in the 13th century, as the centre of several trans-Saharan trade routes, this tiny city continues to attract a handful of visitors who admire its spare architecture, exotic scenery and ancient libraries.

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The city is seriously threatened by the encroaching desert; high sand dunes mark the western boundary and several houses have been abandoned to the encroaching sand. [Link, Map]

8. Oregon Inlet Life-Saving Station, USA

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The Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station is located on Oregon Inlet, Outer Banks, North Carolina. This lifesaving station was built in 1897 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Coast Guard last used the station in 1988. Since it was decommissioned many years ago, the shifting sand dunes are taking over the old coast guard station. [Map]

9. Ancient Pyramids and Houses in Meroë, Sudan

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Meroë is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km (3.7 mi) north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km (125 mi) north-east of Khartoum.

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The pyramids at Meroe show the influence of the ancient Egyptian empire. A Nubian kingdom once had its capitol at Meroe. Pyramids and a city were built more than 2300 years ago. The city is now Sudan’s largest archaeological site, with the tombs almost completely unearthed but other parts of the city still hidden under the ever-shifting sands. [Link, Map]

Top image: Egypt’s Mosque Minaret (left) and Sudan’s Meroe pyramids (right)

[Source: The World Geography. Edited. Top image added.]

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