Spooky Photos of Decrepit Tourist Destinations in Europe


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Spooky Photos of Decrepit Tourist Destinations in Europe

Crumbling vestiges that signify a dying generation of tourism.

When my brother and I were kids, my parents used to take us to Gran Canaria, an island residing within Islas Canarias, a Spanish archipelago just off the Moroccan coast. The island has been largely visited and inhabited by Scandinavians since the 1960s, but had its heydays in the 1990s when "charter vacations," or low-budget resort vacations, became affordable for the working and middle classes.

I recall many blithe childhood memories from our time in Gran Canaria: Long days at the beach, poking jellyfish with a stick, hours spent in front of an aquarium at our go-to restaurant, all in service of escaping the darkest months of Norwegian winter back home.


Last month, I returned to Gran Canaria with my parents for the first time in almost 15 years, curious to see see what had become of the place. As we drove along the coast, I lost count of the "for sale" signs standing guard outside the empty lots and hotels. The whole town seemed to be crumbling to dust. The architecture—all cheap materials with color schemes of washed-out pink, bright yellow, and baby blue reminiscent of the 60s—seemed all the more dated with the absence of tourists, who, I was told, favor AirBnB over resorts these days.

Maybe unsurprisingly, Gran Canaria left me feeling weird. After leaving the once-familiar place, I flew straight to Switzerland for a photo shoot. While there, I decided to drive to the village of Andermatt, the first Swiss skiing resort I found on Google Maps. As I drove through the small village, I felt surprised by how the tone and mood eerily paralleled my previous destination, despite it being my first time in the Alps (and the drastic change in climate): Empty luxury apartments and hotels, guest houses, local diners… even the slopes were empty, despite the ideal skiing conditions.

Both Andermatt and Gran Canaria struck me as crumbling vestiges that signify a dying generation of tourism—the type of vacation destinations that present-day visitors still book through a travel agent. While shooting at both, I aimed to document the objects and moments that inspired the same type of spooky hollowness I felt at the two distinct locales.


For more of Tonje's work, visit her website and Instagram.