The City That Was ‘Swallowed’ by the Desert

Once upon a time Kolmanskop was a home to hundreds of German miners, who were desperately in search of fortune in the middle of the Namibian desert. However, only a century after Kolmanskop rose from the sand and created an oasis of life, it was turned to the dust from which it originated.

Tourists and photographers are now flocking into this wilderness, making photographs of the houses that are slowly losing the battle against the sand and the wind. The city was established and abandoned within only 40 years, and it has been left to the mercy of the desert for decades. The large family houses are now mostly under the sand, but in 1980 the De Beers mining company decided to turn the town into a museum in order to preserve at least a small piece of Kolmanskop’s history.

Kolmanskop-12via whenonearth

The settlement was founded in the early 20th century, when diamonds could be found on the surface of the Namibian sands. A railroad worker found a gem in 1908, while “rummaging” in the sand near the railroad track. After that, this part of Namibia became a center of a “diamond rush” for a few years, when hundreds of Germans headed to the desert to look for fortune. Kolmanskop grew into a true German town. There was a hospital, a ceremonial room, power plants, schools, a small alley, a theater and a sports hall.

School Corridor (Kolmanskop)via mikanoway

The town even had the first X-ray machine in the Southern Hemisphere and the first tram in Africa. During the 1920s 300 Gemans, 40 children and 800 natives of the Owambo tribe lived in Kolmanskop. However, when the price of diamonds began to decline after World War II, it was the beginning of the end for Kolmanskop, and the wealthier residents moved to the south. The town was completely abandoned in 1954.