Tourist resort drowns in one harrowing night – then resurfaces after 30 years

The former spa town lay underwater for nearly a quarter of a century before mass droughts exposed it once again, pulling back visitors fascinated by its ruins

Flooded for almost 25 years following a freak storm, Villa Epecuén has since re-emerged and is pulling in tourists intrigued by its desolation

Petrified trees and the skeletons of former homes – this once-bustling tourist spot has made a name as one of the planet’s eeriest destinations.

Formerly a thriving resort which pulled in visitors from across the continent, Villa Epecuén in Argentina is now a graveyard preserving the memories of the last time holidaymakers enjoyed it before it was submerged in a freak storm in 1985.

Waves from the nearby Lake Epecuén broke through barriers during the event, drowning the entire town and leaving it submerged for the next 25 years.

The resort finally re-appeared in 2010 when the receding water levels left the ruins once again exposed, and now attracts visitors for a very different reason.

Aerial view of abandoned tourist village Villa Epecuén

Located around 500 miles west of the capital, Buenos Aires, the abandoned resort has been luring in Argentinian tourists over the course of the pandemic as restrictions ground travellers to a halt.

Tourists have commented on the once-gleaming spa town, describing it as a place of intrigue, history and inspiration.

One of the area’s creepiest spots is the ruins of the former slaughterhouse, which was built in the 1930s and whose tower has miraculously stayed intact.

Elevated view of the abandoned Matadero Municipal slaughterhouse building with dirt road at old ruins of Villa Epecuen in Argentina

The tombs of an old cemetery meanwhile have become a major part of the town’s pull as an abandoned spot now reclaimed by nature.

At its height in the 1920s, Epecuén was one of the country’s biggest tourist destinations. It was initially built as a spa town due to the lake’s high salt content, which was thought to be able to treat various ailments and skin conditions.

As a result of the amount of salt in the water, trees submerged by the lake in the 1985 storm were poisoned and their skeletons preserved in a petrification process, and are now a ghostly white.

Skeletal remains of a staircase in an abandoned building in the town, which was reclaimed in 1985 when the saltwater of the nearby lake crashed through a barrier during a storm

It’s not just the locals who are fascinated by the town’s creepy ruins. Several films and shows have honed in on it as a filming location or case study, including 2010’s And Soon the Darkness which starred Amber Heard and TV Abandoned Engineering.

Epecuén was also used as a backdrop for Scottish cyclist Danny MacAskill’s street cycling videos.

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