If there’s a constant in life, it’s change. In building and maintaining a database of wondrous places around the world, we see places newly created; others that have been restored, refashioned, repurposed; and still more that are gone and replaced by something new. There are also, of course, places dating back hundreds, even thousands, of years that still survive today. But in between all of these, as if they had fallen through the cracks, are places that should, by all rights, be a thing of the past, but have managed to hang on—sometimes as museums, sometimes through the efforts of a dedicated few.
Visitors to Rugby, Tennessee, are immediately transported to the Victorian era. The Rugby Colony was established in 1880 as a utopian community for British immigrants living in the American South. Although abandoned in the 1890s, many of the colony’s original Victorian-style buildings are still standing, and the town is now a living history museum. Amid shops and cafes, not far from a busy street in Kanazawa, Japan, is a 16th-century temple that once acted as a secret fortress. The Myouryuji (Ninja Temple) is filled with hidden staircases, false doors, and pit traps. Samurai lord Maeda Toshiie constructed the facility to give his warriors a good spot to spy on enemies. From ghost towns in the Wild West to Cold War bunkers, here are some of our favorite places improbably frozen in time.