Craco, an abandoned hilltop village in Italy

The Abandoned Hilltop Village of Craco

The Abandoned Hilltop Village of Craco

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Jan. 13 2015 11:31 AM

The Abandoned Italian Hilltop Village of Craco

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Given its precarious position on a 1,300-foot-high cliff in Italy’s southern, earthquake-prone Basilicata region, it’s a wonder Craco lasted as long as it did.

The now-deserted village was established as early as the eighth century. Panoramic views provided advance warning of attacking barbarian hordes, but Craco could not protect itself against the forces of nature. Standing strong for over a thousand years, the town survived the Black Plague and bands of marauding thieves, but residents finally had to leave after landslides in the 1950s and ‘60s made buildings dangerously unstable. Craco is now a ghost town—abandoned, plundered, and overgrown.


Though no one lives there anymore, Craco hosts six religious festivals between May and October. Other than that, the village receives visits from travelers, goats, and the occasional film production—scenes from The Passion of the Christ and Quantum of Solace were shot among the crumbling walls.

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Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.