List of destroyed heritage

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This is a list of cultural heritage sites that have been damaged or destroyed accidentally, deliberately, or by a natural disaster, sorted by continent, then by country.

Cultural heritage can be subdivided into two main types—tangible and intangible heritage. The former includes built heritage such as religious buildings, museums, monuments, archaeological sites, and movable heritage such as works of art and manuscripts. Intangible cultural heritage includes customs, music, fashion and other traditions within a particular culture.[1][2] This article mainly deals with the destruction of built heritage; the destruction of movable collectible heritage is dealt with in art destruction, whilst the destruction of movable industrial heritage remains almost totally ignored.

Deliberate and systematic destruction of cultural heritage, such as that carried out by ISIL and other terrorist organizations, is regarded as a form of cultural genocide.[3][4]



The Pyramid of Menkaure was damaged in the late 12th century.
Great Sphinx of Giza



  • In November 1995, a fire broke out in the Rova of Antananarivo, a royal palace complex that had served as the home of monarchs in the Kingdom of Madagascar since the 17th century. The fire destroyed or severely damaged all of its buildings.[9] The last 2 phases of the Manjakamiadana's (Queen's Palace) reconstruction was started by 2010, and by July 2020 the entire structure has been fully refurbished.[10]



European depiction of Benin City in 1668


South Africa[edit]

  • The 2021 Table Mountain fire partially or completely gutted several historical and/or culturally significant buildings and collections in the University of Cape Town, including Mostert's Mill (South Africa's oldest working windmill, built 1796) and the university's Special Collections Library, which held over 1,300 collections and over 85,000 books and other items, including a historically significant Bible, an original illustration of The Jungle Book, drawings, maps and transcripts of stories from the indigenous peoples of the Cape, a major dictionary of the isiXhosa language, copies of historic Xhosa language newspapers, papers by Ray Alexander Simons, and archives of papers relating to many anti-apartheid movements.[11][12][13] It is known that the fire completely gutted the library's Reading Room but that a fire detection system prevented the fire from reaching the rest of the library, likely preserving most collections; however, some rare collections were likely lost.[14] A later assessment found that a vast majority of the African Studies Published Print Collection (about 70,000 items) and the entirety of the African Studies Film Collection DVDs (about 3,500 items) had been destroyed, along with documents relating to the university itself as well as any manuscripts or archives being kept in the Reading Room for digitization or after being digitized, but that the rare and antique collections kept underground, including significant documentation and works of the San and Khoi people who lived in the area in the 1870s, had been preserved.[15][16]


  • Great Zimbabwe has faced some damage since the colonial era. The removal of gold and artifacts in amateurist diggings by early colonial antiquarians caused widespread damage,[17] notably diggings by Richard Nicklin Hall, who was determined to find evidence that the monument was not built by indigenous Africans until he eventually relinquished this belief.[18] More extensive damage was caused by the mining of some of the ruins for gold.[17] Reconstruction attempts since 1980 caused further damage, leading to alienation of the local communities from the site.[19][20] Another source of damage to the ruins has been due to the site being open to visitors with many cases of people climbing the walls, walking over archaeological deposits, and the over-use of certain paths all have had major impacts on the structures at the site.[19] These are in conjunction with damages due to the natural weathering that occurs over time due to vegetation growth, the foundations settling, and erosion from the weather.[19]



One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001
  • During the Soviet invasion, large-scale looting occurred in various archaeological sites including Hadda, ancient site of Ai-Khanoum, the Buddhist monastery complex in Tepe Shortor which dates back to the 2nd century AD, and the National Kabul Museum. These sites were ransacked by various pillagers, including the pro-Russian government forces, destitute villagers, and the local crime rings. The National Museum of Afghanistan suffered the greatest damage, in which the systematic looting has plundered the museum collection and the adjacent Archaeological Institute. As a result, more than two-thirds of one hundred thousand pieces of museum treasures and artifacts were lost or destroyed.[21]
  • A pair of 6th-century monumental statues known as the Buddhas of Bamiyan were dynamited by the Taliban in 2001, who had declared them heretical idols.


  • In 1870, a report by the Viceroyalty of the Caucasus recorded 269 Shia mosques in the region.[22] After 1917, many of the city's religious buildings were demolished in accordance with the Soviet government's modernization and anti-religious policies.[23] A mosque in Yerevan was pulled down with a bulldozer at the beginning of the year 1990, which was done as a result of Azerbaijan destroying the Armenian church in Baku.[24] Today there is only one mosque remaining in the city.



  • At least 43 Shia mosques, including the ornate 400-year-old Amir Mohammed Braighi mosque, and many other religious structures were destroyed by the Bahraini government during the Bahraini uprising of 2011.



  • The historical Famen Temple went through several periods of destruction. First erected during the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25–220), it was destroyed during the years of the Northern Zhou dynasty (557–581). After being rebuilt, it was destroyed again by an earthquake during the Longqing's years (1567–1572) of the Ming dynasty. After another reconstruction, it was destroyed again during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1976. The present structure was completed in 1987.
  • The Huang Chao rebellion (874–884) devastated the city of Chang'an, a historical capital of several ancient Chinese empires. The city was sacked and occupied by the rebels who looted and demolished the buildings, whose materials were then reused to build the subsequent capital city of Luoyang. Chang'an never recovered after this obliteration, and it was followed by the decline of the Tang dynasty. Huang Chao's former lieutenant Zhu Wen completed the destruction by dismantling Chang'an and transporting the materials east to Luoyang. A medieval Chinese source claimed that Huang Chao killed 8 million people.[30] Huang Chao's army in southern China committed the Guangzhou massacre against foreign Arab and Persian Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian merchants in 878-879 at the seaport and trading entrpot of Guangzhou.[31]
  • During the systematic persecution of Buddhists in AD 845 by the Taoist Emperor Wuzong of Tang, more than 4,600 Buddhist temples were destroyed across the empire.[32]
  • In 955, Emperor Shizong of the Later Zhou ordered the systematic destruction of Buddha statues due to the need for copper to mint coins. The ordinance led to the destruction of 3,336 of China's 6,030 Buddhist temples.[33]
  • In 1739, the Pagoda of Chengtian Temple was destroyed after a large earthquake struck the city of Yinchuan. The pagoda was subsequently restored in 1820.[34]
  • The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, which dates back to the 15th century, was destroyed during the course of the Taiping Rebellion (1850–1864). A modern life-size replica was built in 2015.[35]
  • In 1860, much of the Old Summer Palace, a Qing-era imperial palace, was set on fire and sacked during the Second Opium War. The palace was later sacked again and destroyed by the Eight-Nation Alliance when they invaded Beijing.[citation needed]
  • Beijing city fortifications which date back to the 15th–16th century were destroyed through the course of the decline of the Qing dynasty in the late 19th to early 20th century. They were severely damaged during the Boxer Rebellion (1898–1901), with the gate towers and watchtowers destroyed and troops of the Eight-Nation Alliance tearing down much of the outer city walls. After the collapse of the Qing in 1912, and end of the Republic of China in 1949, the fortifications were dismantled to build modern ring roads around Beijing. Today, nothing of the Outer City remains intact.[citation needed]
  • In 1921, Buddhist murals at the Mogao Caves were damaged and vandalized by White Russian soldiers fleeing the Russian Civil War.[36]
  • On 8 June 1928, the soldiers of warlord Sun Dianying ransacked Qing Imperial tombs including the tombs of Empress Dowager Cixi and the Qianlong Emperor.
  • Buddhist murals at the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves were damaged by the local Muslim population. The eyes and mouths in particular were often gouged out. Pieces of murals were also broken off for use as fertilizer by the locals.[37][38]
  • During the Kumul Rebellion in Xinjiang in the 1930s, Buddhist murals were vandalized by Muslims.[39]
  • Yongdingmen, the former front gate of the outer city wall of the Beijing city fortifications, which dates back to 1553, was demolished in the 1950s to make way for the new road system. It was rebuilt in 2005.
  • The Gate of China in Beijing was demolished by the Chinese government in 1954 to make way for the expansion of Tiananmen Square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall occupies the former site of the site of the gate.
  • A shrine dedicated to Wei Yan was destroyed by the Chinese government in 1968. A stone tablet which contained the record of his presence was lost after the demolition. The shrine was rebuilt in 1995.[40]
  • During the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, many artifacts, monuments, and buildings belonging to the Four Olds were attacked and destroyed, including:
  • According to anthropologist Robert E. Murowchick, a quarter million tombs have been raided since the 1990s to rob the antiquities which lay beneath them. Murowchick points out that growing demand for antiquities from both domestic and international markets have encouraged the tomb raiding in China.[43]
  • China's aggressive development has resulted in the destruction of more than 30,000 items listed by the state administration of cultural heritage, compiled from various archaeological and historic sites. One conservation campaigner tells that the rate of destruction is worse than during the Cultural Revolution. Destroyed heritage sites include the old town in Dinghai, the old town of Laoximen in Shanghai,[44] a centuries-old market street in Qianmen, and a section of the Great Wall of China.[45] Historical neighborhoods of Beijing and Nanjing were also razed.[46][47]
  • The construction of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River caused water levels to rise, destroying entire cities as well as many historical locations along the river.[48][49]
  • In 2016, the Chinese government ordered the demolition of historical housings in the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist institution.[50]
  • By 2017, the old town of Kashgar had been destroyed by the Chinese government, and replaced by a significantly smaller and lower-quality "theme park" version of the site.[51]
  • During the 2020 China floods, multiple historic bridges were destroyed, including the Lecheng Bridge and the Zhenhai Bridge.



Original Gambir Station before huge renovation in 1988
Gambir station after huge renovation



Israel and Palestine[edit]

Jordanian Arab Legion in the process of destroying the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, May 1948


  • The majority of Japanese castles were smashed and destroyed in the late 19th century in the Meiji restoration by the Japanese people and government in order to modernize and westernize Japan and break from their past feudal era of the Daimyo and Shoguns. It was only due to the 1964 Summer Olympics in Japan that concrete replicas of those castles were built for tourists.[79][80][81] The vast majority of castles in Japan today are new replicas made out of concrete.[82][83][84] In 1959 a concrete keep was built for Nagoya castle.[85]
  • An earth wall with uneven stones made up the original base of Komine Castle before it collapsed in the 1970s due to rain. The Japanese local government repaired it with concrete and the entire section of the repaired wall was destroyed by the earthquake in 2011 due to using concrete. The Japanese government then begged for photographs of the original wall from local citizens as they had no idea what it looked like to repair it to its original state.[86]
  • The destroyed Kumamoto Castle, Fushimi Castle, Hiroshima Castle were rebuilt with concrete after World War II and Tokyo Imperial Palace was rebuilt after World War II. Kinkaku-ji was rebuilt after a monk burned it down. Kyoto Imperial Palace was rebuilt in 1855.
  • The Japanese used mostly concrete in 1934 to rebuild the Togetsukyo Bridge, unlike the original destroyed wooden version of the bridge from 836.[87]
  • Japanese had to look at old paintings in order to find out what the Horyuji temple used to look like when they rebuilt it.[88]
  • During the Meiji restoration's Shinbutsu bunri, tens of thousands of Japanese Buddhist religious statues and temples were smashed and destroyed.[89] Japan then closed and shut done tens of thousands of traditional old Shinto shrines in the Shrine Consolidation Policy and the Meiji government built the new modern 15 shrines of the Kenmu restoration as a political move to link the Meiji restoration to the Kenmu restoration for their new State Shinto cult.
  • Japanese building company Kongō Gumi started using CAD software and concrete with wood to build temples after the Meiji restoration.[90]
  • The Japanese built a Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (Kannon) statue out of concrete at a temple Ryozen Kannon in Kyoto which was constructed after World War II.[91]
  • The Japanese in 1958 used concrete to rebuild the Kannon-do temple at the Senso-ji Temple in Toko after it was destroyed in 1945 in World War II.[92]
  • Kumamoto Castle, Kumamoto: Seriously damaged in 1877 during the Siege of Kumamoto Castle, part of the larger Satsuma Rebellion; subsequently rebuilt in the 1960s, with further historical restoration work completed from 1998 to 2008. The castle was again seriously damaged during 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, with the required rebuilding effort estimated to take several decades.[93][94]
  • Shuri Castle, a palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom first built in the 14th century, was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. The Japanese forces had set up a defense perimeter which goes through the underground of the castle. U.S. military targeted this location by shelling with the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41) for three days in May 1945. The castle burned down subsequently after. It was later reconstructed in the 1990s. On the morning of 31 October 2019, the main courtyard structures of the castle were again destroyed in a fire.
  • The Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) of Kyoto was burnt down by an arsonist in 1950, but was restored in 1955.[95]
  • A large number of Important Cultural Property, libraries, museums, and other archives were damaged or destroyed by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
  • Blood tax riots, the Japanese Meiji government brutally put down revolts by Japanese samurai angry that the traditional untouchable status of burakumin was legally revoked.
  • chonmage, under the Meiji Restoration, the practices of the samurai classes, deemed feudal and unsuitable for modern times following the end of sakoku in 1853, resulted in a number of edicts intended to 'modernise' the appearance of upper class Japanese men. With the Dampatsurei Edict of 1871 issued by Emperor Meiji during the early Meiji Era, men of the samurai classes were forced to cut their hair short, effectively abandoning the chonmage.[96]: 149 


  • Candi Number 11 also known as Candi Sungai Batu Estate, a 1,200 year old ruin of a tomb-temple located in the Bujang Valley historical complex in Kedah was demolished in 2013 by housing developers who claimed not to have known the historical significance of the stone edifice.[97]





  • The Archaeological site of Harappa which dates back to 2600 BCE was heavily damaged during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Bricks from the ruins were brought out and used as track ballast during the construction of Lahore–Multan railway line.[117] Since the discovery, the site was constantly being damaged by the local farmers in the process of turning it into an agriculture land.[118]
  • Sun Temple of Multan, a grand Hindu temple dedicated to the Sun deity built in 614 CE or earlier, was destroyed in the late 10th century by Ismaili rulers and a mosque was built atop it, which was also destroyed in the 11th century by Mahmud of Ghazni. The ruins of the temple exist in modern day Multan, Pakistan.
  • Prahladpuri Temple, Multan, was destroyed by a Muslim mob in 1992 in the aftermath of Babri mosque destruction in neighboring India.
  • Shaheed Ganj Mosque in Lahore was demolished by the Sikhs in 1935. Sikhs had been occupying the public square near the mosque since the capture of Lahore by Bhangi Misl in the 18th century. The conflict concerning the mosque had heightened during the colonial era, as Muslims were forbidden to pray there by the mosque administration. The demolishing of the mosque had led to the Muslims protesters holding marches toward the mosque, which was dispersed by the police opening fire on them.[119]
  • Looters and the Taliban destroyed much of Pakistan's Buddhist artifacts left over from the Buddhist Gandhara civilization especially in Swat Valley.[120] Gandhara Buddhist relics were deliberately targeted by the Taliban for destruction,[121] and illegally looted by smugglers.[122] Kushan era Buddhist stupas and statues in Swat valley, including the Jehanabad Buddha's face, were demolished by the Taliban.[123][124][125][126] The government was criticized for doing nothing to safeguard the statue after the initial attempt at destroying the Buddha, which did not cause permanent harm, and when the second attack took place on the statue the feet, shoulders, and face were demolished.[127] A rehabilitation attempt on the Buddha was made by Luca Olivieri and a group from Italy.[128][129]


  • During the Spanish Colonization of the Philippine islands, the Spanish observed native structures called Kota or citadels made of large wooden houses or lime stones which made up the ancient cosmopolitan city-states of Luzon, Visayas and even in Mindanao.
  • The City of Cainta was a fortified city. According to the descriptions by early Spanish chroniclers, it was surrounded by bamboo thickets, defended by a log wall, stone bulwarks and several lantakas, and an arm of the Pasig River flowed through the middle of the city, dividing it into two settlements.[130]: 145  with a population with about a thousand inhabitants, and was surrounded by very tall and very dense bamboo thickets, and fortified with a wall and a few small culverins. The same river as that of Manila circles around the village and a branch of it passes through the middle dividing it in two sections. As described in the anonymous 1572 account documented in Volume 3 of Blair and Robertson's compiled translations:[130] In August 1571, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi assigned his nephew, Juan de Salcedo, to "pacify" Cainta. After travelling several days upriver, Salcedo lay siege to the city, and eventually found a weak spot on the wall. The final Spanish attack over 400 residents of Cainta killed including their leader Gat Maitan.[130]
  • Kota Selurong was the walled city of Manila along the south bank of the Pasig River.[131] Kota Seludong, the seat of the power of the Kingdom of Maynila that was protected by a rammed earth fortress equipped with stockades, battlements and cannons.[132] the Kota were destroyed in 1570 siege, after the Spanish forces invaded the city. Spanish accounts claim that Martin de Goiti ordered his men to set the city in fire.[133]
The Loon Church before and after the 2013 Bohol earthquake. It has since been reconstructed, adhering as faithfully as possible to the original plans and using the original masonry.
  • During the Battle of Manila in 1945, most of the city's unique architecture was destroyed. After the battle, in the business district, only two buildings dating to before the war remained intact, and these buildings' plumbing had been looted.[134] After the war ended, much of Manila was rebuilt in a modernist style, and thus the original architectural heritage of the city is largely lost.
  • Manila Jai Alai Building, a historic jai alai venue demolished in 2000 which was opposed by heritage conservationists.[135][136] The demolition led to the passage of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009.[137]
  • Several historic buildings were damaged or destroyed during the 2013 Bohol earthquake, including the Loboc Church, the Loon Church, the Maribojoc Church and the Baclayon Church.
  • The Philippine Su Kuang Institute building was demolished in 2017 after the owners sold the building to a private developer within the same year. The 1940s was the last Art Deco wooden school structure in Binondo, Manila.[138]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

  • Various mosques and other historic sites, especially those relating to early Islam, have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia. Apart from early Islamic sites, other buildings such as the Ajyad Fortress were also destroyed. This is done for economic reasons, to create room to accommodate hajj pilgrims (including luxury facilities for wealthy guests), as well as for ideological reasons related to the iconoclastic religious doctrine of the state Wahhabi sect.
  • Ajyad Fortress of the Ottomans demolished for commercial development of the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower.


South Korea[edit]

  • Hwangnyongsa, a massive Buddhist temple in Gyeongju which dates back to the 7th century, was burned down by the Mongolians during their invasion in 1238.
  • Hundreds of Buddhist monasteries were shut down or destroyed during the Joseon period as a part of anti-Buddhism policy. In 1407, during the reign of Taejong, the regulations were imposed on the number of Buddhist temples which limited to 88.[139] Sejong the Great further reduced the number to 36.[140][139] Many Buddhist statues were also destroyed during the reign of Jungjong (1506–1544).
  • Namdaemun was damaged by fire caused by arson in 2008. It reopened in 2013.
  • In March 2021, a main hall of the historic Naejangsan temple in Jeongeup, was burned into ashes by a 53-year-old monk arsonist.

Sri Lanka[edit]

  • The Palace of King Parakramabahu I of Polonnaruwa was set into fire by the Kalinga Magha lead Indian invaders in the 11th century. The ruins and the effect of the fire is still visible.[141]
  • The Library of Jaffna, which had over 97,000 manuscripts, was burned in 1981, as a part of the Sri Lankan war.


Minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo, destroyed in fighting in 2013.


In June 1932 in Siam—now Thailand—a revolution overthrew 700 years of absolute monarchy. A political structure based on a constitution that required non-royal governments elected by the people, was introduced. On 10 December 1936, the first post-revolution prime minister, Phraya Phahon, held a small ceremony to embed a small plaque the size of a dinner plate into the ground at the spot, in front of Bangkok's Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, where he had first announced the end of the absolute monarchy.[146] The inscription on it read: "Here on 24 June 1932 at dawn, the People's Party proclaimed a constitution for the country's advancement."[147]

Eighty years later, sometime between 2–8 April 2017, the democracy plaque was replaced by a new plaque. Its message read: "To love and respect the Buddhist trinity, one's own state, one's own family, and to have a heart faithful to your monarch, will bring prosperity to the country". Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha dismissed the theft and replacement of the plaque as unimportant.[148] The police insisted they could not investigate the plaque's disappearance because they did not know who owned the plaque. Investigation stalled as all 11 CCTV cameras in the area had been removed days before the plaque was taken.[147]

On 20 September 2020, a new updated version of the plaque was installed by democracy activists at Sanam Luang. Within a day of its installation it was removed by persons unknown.[149]


  • The abandonment and confiscation of Armenian monasteries and cultural heritage in places such as Ani contributed to their eventual destruction. In 1974, UNESCO stated that after 1923, out of 913 Armenian historical monuments left in Eastern Turkey, 464 had vanished completely, 252 were in ruins, and 197 needed repair.[150] In 2011, there were 34 Armenian churches functioning in Turkey, primarily in Istanbul.[151]





  • Vienna's Cathedral of St. Stephen was severely damaged by fire in 1945, towards the end of the Second World War. Incendiary bombs and shelling had set the roof on fire, and the cathedral's original larch girders, said to be made from an entire forest of larches, were destroyed, as were the Rollinger choir stalls, carved in 1487. The building was rebuilt soon after the war.[153]


Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Stari Most, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and monumental Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (white church in the background) were destroyed by Croat forces in the Bosnian War, but were later rebuilt.


The WWII Monument to the people-hero of Slavonia destroyed by the Croatian Army in February 1992
  • In the Independent State of Croatia 450 Serb Orthodox churches and monasteries were destroyed along with monumental iconostasis, thousands of icons and number of manuscripts and books which included archival books about births, weddings and deaths.[166][167] The destroyed ritual items were of great cultural and historical importance and beauty.[166]
  • War damage of the Croatian War (1991–1995) has been assessed on 2,271 protected cultural monuments, with the damage cost being estimated at 407 million DM.[168] The largest numbers – 683 damaged cultural monuments – are located in the area of Dubrovnik and Neretva County. Most are situated in Dubrovnik itself.[169] The entire buildings and possessions of 481 Roman Catholic churches, several synagogues, and several Serbian Orthodox churches were badly damaged or destroyed. Valuable inventories were looted from over 100 churches. The most drastic example of destruction of cultural monuments, art objects, and artifacts took place in Vukovar. After the occupation of the devastated city by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitary forces, portable cultural property was removed from shelters and museums in Vukovar to museums and archives in Serbia.[168]
  • After Croatia gained independence, about 3,000 memorials dedicated to the anti-fascist resistance and the victims of fascism were destroyed.[170]
  • In September 1991, Croatian forces entered the memorial site of the Jasenovac Concentration Camp and vandalized the museum building, while exhibitions and documentation were destroyed, damaged and looted.[171]

Czech Republic[edit]

  • The Old Town Hall in Prague was severely damaged by fire during the Prague uprising of 1945. The chamber where George of Poděbrady was elected King of Bohemia was devastated; the town hall's bell, the oldest in Bohemia, dating from 1313, was melted; and the city archives, comprising 70,000 volumes (most of which were transported to the outskirts of Prague due to the fear of the bombardment),[172] as well as historically priceless manuscripts, were destroyed.[173]
  • The Vinohrady Synagogue (one of Europe's largest Synagogues) was destroyed during the Bombing of Prague.




Notre-Dame de Paris fire


The remains of the Berlin Palace in 1950
  • Many historically and architecturally significant buildings were destroyed or severely damaged during World War II and the post-war period as a result of the Allied policy of area bombing of cities aimed at destroying or weakening infrastructure and war-related industry in the German Reich, as well as demoralizing the population by destroying urban cores and residential neighborhoods. Several hundred cities were destroyed, many of them by more than 80 percent. Striking examples are palaces like Berlin Palace, Monbijou Palace, and City Palace, Potsdam, as well as churches like Dresden Frauenkirche, Berlin Cathedral, and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Several have been rebuilt since 1990 (including all those mentioned except Monbijou Palace and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church).
  • The Paulinerkirche was a medieval church from 1231 in Leipzig. The church survived the war practically unscathed but was dynamited in 1968 during the communist regime of East Germany. After the reunification of Germany, a new building in a contemporary style, the Paulinum, was built on the site.
  • The building housing the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne collapsed on 3 March 2009 during an underground railway line construction.
  • The Church of St. Lambertus in Immerath was demolished on 9 January 2018 as part of the demolition of the entire village to make way for an expansion of the Garzweiler surface mine. The church had been added to the list of heritage monuments in Erkelenz on 14 May 1985.[177]
  • In October 2020, artworks displayed at various museums at Museumsinsel in Berlin were vandalized with a liquid that left stains on the artifacts.[178]


  • The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was destroyed in the 226 BC Rhodes earthquake, and its remains were destroyed in the 7th century AD while Rhodes was under Arab rule. In December 2015, a group of European architects announced plans to build a modern Colossus where the original once stood.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, also a Wonder of the Ancient World, was destroyed around the 5th century CE, although it is not known exactly when or how.
  • The Parthenon was extensively damaged in 1687 in the Morean theatre of the Great Turkish War (1683–1699). The Ottoman army fortified the Acropolis of Athens and used the Parthenon as a gunpowder magazine and a shelter for members of the local Turkish community. On 26 September, a Venetian mortar round blew up the magazine, and the explosion blew out the building's central portion. About three hundred people were killed in the explosion, which caused fires that burned until the following day and consumed many homes.[179][180] The Parthenon was extensively and permanently damaged when Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin and ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (occupiers of Greece in the early 19th century), who admired the Parthenon's extensive collection of ancient marble sculptures, began extracting and expatriating them to Britain in 1801. More damage to the site's heritage came after independence, when all Medieval and Ottoman features of the Acropolis (most notably the Frankish Tower) were destroyed by Heinrich Schliemann in a project to rid the site of all post-Classical influence.


(Destroyed buildings of Budapest and Destroyed buildings of Hungary, both in Hungarian)



Ruins of the church of San Sebastiano, Verona after it was destroyed by aerial bombardment in 1945


During the Yugoslavia period there was destruction of Albanian heritage endorsed by the state.[181] A number of Albanian cultural sites in Kosovo were destroyed during the Kosovo conflict (1998–1999) which constituted a war crime violating the Hague and Geneva Conventions.[182] In all 225 out of 600 mosques in Kosovo were damaged, vandalised, or destroyed alongside other Islamic architecture and Islamic libraries and archives with records spanning 500 years.[183][184] Additionally 500 Albanian owned kulla dwellings (traditional stone tower houses) and three out of four well preserved Ottoman period urban centres located in Kosovo cities were badly damaged resulting in great loss of traditional architecture.[185][186] Kosovo's public libraries, in particular 65 out of 183 were completely destroyed with a loss of 900,588 volumes.[187][188] During the war, Islamic architectural heritage posed for Yugoslav Serb paramilitary and military forces as Albanian patrimony with destruction of non-Serbian architectural heritage being a methodical and planned component of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.[186][189]

During World War II, a number of Serbian Orthodox religious sites were damaged or destroyed.[181] During the 1968 and 1981 protests, Serbian Orthodox religious sites were the target of vandalism, that continued during the 1980s.[181] NATO bombing in March–June 1999 resulted in some accidental damages to churches and a mosque. Revenge attacks against Serbian religious sites commenced following the conflict and the return of hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees to their homes.[190] Serbian cultural sites in Kosovo were systematically destroyed in the aftermath of the Kosovo War[191][192][193][194] and 2004 ethnic violence.[195][196] According to the International Center for Transitional Justice this includes 155 destroyed Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries as well as Medieval Monuments in Kosovo, which were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.[197][198]


Large neoclassical opera house
Ruins of a neoclassical opera house
The Royal Opera House in Valletta in 1911, and its ruins in 2016. The building was destroyed by aerial bombardment in 1942.
  • Parts of the megalithic Xagħra Stone Circle in Gozo were deliberately destroyed in around 1834–1835 and its megaliths were broken down to form masonry which was used in the construction of a nearby farmhouse. The site was subsequently forgotten for over a century before being rediscovered in the late 20th century.[199]
  • A number of buildings of historical or architectural importance which had been included on the Antiquities List[200] were destroyed by aerial bombardment during World War II, including Auberge d'Auvergne, Auberge de France and the Slaves' Prison in Valletta,[201] the Clock Tower,[202] Auberge d'Allemagne[203] and Auberge d'Italie[204] in Birgu, and two out of three megalithic temples at Kordin.[205][206] Others such as Fort Manoel also suffered severe damage, but were rebuilt after the war.[207]
  • Other buildings which were not included on the Antiquities List but which had significant cultural importance were also destroyed during the war. The most notable of these was the Royal Opera House in Valletta, which is considered as "one of the major architectural and cultural projects undertaken by the British" by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage.[208]
  • The Gourgion Tower in Xewkija, which was included on the Antiquities List, was demolished by American forces in 1943 to make way for an airfield. Many of its inscriptions and decorated stones were retrieved and they are now in storage at Heritage Malta.[209]
  • Palazzo Fremaux, a building included on the Antiquities List and which was scheduled as a Grade 2 property, was gradually demolished between 1990 and 2003. The demolition was condemned by local residents, the local government and non-governmental organizations.[210][211]
  • The Azure Window, a 28-metre-tall (92 ft) limestone natural arch on the island of Gozo in Malta. It was located in Dwejra Bay in the limits of San Lawrenz, close to the Inland Sea and the Fungus Rock. It was one of Malta's major tourist attractions. The arch, together with other natural features in the area of Dwejra, is featured in a number of international films and other media representations. The formation was anchored on the east end by the seaside cliff, arching over open water, to be anchored to a free standing pillar in the sea to the west of the cliff. It was created when two limestone sea caves collapsed. Following years of natural erosion causing parts of the arch to fall into the sea, the arch and free standing pillar collapsed completely during a storm in March 2017.
  • Villa St Ignatius, a 19th-century villa with historical and architectural significance,[212] was partially demolished in late 2017. This was condemned by numerous non-governmental organizations and other entities.[213]


  • The German bombing of Rotterdam that took place on 14 May 1940, also known as the Rotterdam Blitz, decimated most of the historical city center of the Dutch city of Rotterdam, which at the time was the second-largest city in the country. During the bombing, hundreds of years worth of architecture and artwork were destroyed within hours.
  • De Noord, a tower mill which had survived the Rotterdam Blitz, suffered a fire in July 1954 and was demolished soon after.[214]
  • Kareol, a huge Art Deco building in Aerdenhout. It was built in 1908-1911. It was the largest house being built by a private owner in The Netherlands in the 20th century. It was demolished in 1979.
  • Kolleg St. Ludwig, a friary in Vlodrop. It was demolished in 2015.




  • Lisbon was almost destroyed during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and subsequent fire and tsunami.
  • A small section of the 19th-century quarter Chiado was destroyed by fire on 25 August 1988. The eighteen damaged buildings were rebuilt in the following 20 years.



This 1890s building in Moscow was demolished in September 2008. The property developer was fined $1,500.[218]
  • In Moscow alone losses of 1917–2006 are estimated at over 640 notable buildings (including 150 to 200 listed buildings, out of a total inventory of 3,500) – some disappeared completely, others were replaced with concrete replicas.
  • President Boris Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the White House, seat of the Russian government, during his 1993 consolidation of power, causing a large fire and considerable damage to the top floors.
  • 'Mephistopheles', figure on a St Petersburg building on Lakhtinksaya Street known as the House with Mephistopheles, smashed by a fundamentalist Orthodox group in 2015.[219][220][221]
  • The original buildings of Metrowagonmash plant, founded by Savva Mamontov in 1897 and built in Russian Gothic style, were demolished between 2016 and 2019 to make way for block houses.


A photograph of the site of the National Library of Serbia, bombed on 6 April 1941 on the order of Adolf Hitler himself.[222] Around 500.000 volumes and all collections of the library were destroyed in one of the largest book bonfires in European history.[223]


Soviet Union[edit]

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior being demolished in 1931
  • During February–March 1944, the Soviet conducted the expulsion of the Chechens and Ingush from the North Caucasus as a part of the Soviet forced settlement program of the non-Russian ethnic minorities. The operation resulted in the deportation of 496,000 Chechens and Ingush populations, and the death of around a quarter of them. It was also accompanied by the destruction of local cultural and societal heritages; names of these nations were erased from the books and records; placenames were replaced with Russian ones; mosques were demolished; villages were razed; and the historical Nakh language manuscripts were almost destroyed.
  • The native Crimean Tatars were deported by the Soviets from the peninsula in May 1944. Afterward, the government engaged in a full-scale detatarization campaign to continue the ethnic cleansing campaign, all the Tatar placenames being replaced with Russian ones, and the Muslim graveyards and religious objects were destroyed or converted into secular places.
  • With the change in values imposed by communist ideology, the tradition of preservation was broken. Independent preservation societies, even those that defended only secular landmarks such as Moscow-based OIRU were disbanded by the end of the 1920s. A new anti-religious campaign, launched in 1929, coincided with collectivization of peasants; destruction of churches in the cities peaked around 1932. Several churches were demolished, including the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow and St. Michael's Cathedral in Izhevsk. Both of these were rebuilt in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • In 1959 Nikita Khrushchev launched his anti-religious campaign. By 1964 over 10 thousand churches out of 20 thousand were shut down (mostly in rural areas) and many were demolished. Of 58 monasteries and convents operating in 1959, only sixteen remained by 1964; of Moscow's fifty churches operating in 1959, thirty were closed and six demolished.


  • A photograph of Torre Nueva in Zaragoza in 1876.
    Because of the Ecclesiastical confiscations of Mendizábal, secularization of church properties in 1835–1836, several hundreds of church buildings, monasteries, etc., or civil buildings owned by the Church were partly or demolished. Many of the art works, libraries and archives contained were lost or pillaged in the time the buildings were abandoned and without owners. Among them were important buildings as Santa Caterina convent (the first gothic building in Iberian Peninsula) and Sant Francesc convent (gothic too, one of the richest in the country), both in Barcelona, or San Pedro de Arlanza Roman monastery, near Burgos, now ruined.
  • Several monuments demolished in Calatayud: the church of Convent of Dominicos of San Pedro Mártir (1856), Convent of Trinidad (1856), Church of Santiago (1863), Church of San Torcuato and Santa Lucía (1869) and Church of San Miguel (1871).[232]
  • The leaning Torre Nueva in Zaragoza was demolished in 1892 amidst fears that it would topple.[232]
  • Palacio de los Lasso de Castilla, was 15th century palace in Madrid which became the palace or residence of the Catholic Monarchs. It was demolished during the mid 19th century.
  • Churches, monasteries, convents and libraries were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.[233]
  • A Virxe da Barca sanctuary, located in Muxia, was destroyed by lightning.[234]


  • Tre Kronor, main residence of the Swedish Kings, destroyed by fire in 1697. Several important documents of the history of Sweden were lost in the fire.
  • Klarakvarteren, a part of Stockholm from the 17th century. It was demolished in the 1960–70.
  • The city of Norrköping was razed in 1719 by Russians. It was reconstructed with grid pattern streets and using the surviving Johannesborg fort as a quarry.



United Kingdom[edit]

Large exhibition centre
Ruins of a large exhibition centre
Site of a large exhibition centre, now a park
The Crystal Palace in London in 1854; its burnt-out ruins in 1936; and the site in 2008

North America[edit]



Centre Block ablaze in 1916


  • The Maya codices were destroyed by Spanish priest Diego de Landa.
  • Iglesia del Carmen, a colonial church in Antigua, Guatemala, was damaged by several earthquakes.
  • The convent of Santa Clara in Antigua Guatemala was severely damaged during the earthquakes, today only its ruins survive.
  • Tikal Temple 33 was destroyed in the 1960s by archaeologists to uncover earlier phases of construction of the pyramid.[citation needed]



On the left is the church of La Limpia de la Inmaculada Concepción, nowadays disappeared.
  • The church of La Iglesia de Nuestro Señor de los Reyes was a Catholic church in the city of Comayagua built in 1555. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1808; finally the mayor's office ordered it demolished in 1829.[254]
  • The church of the La limpia de la Inmaculada Concepcion was a Catholic church built in 1621 in Tegucigalpa. It suffered a fire in 1746, and stopped being used frequently. It was finally demolished in 1858 due to its poor condition.
  • The Caxa Real of Comaygua was heavily damaged due to earthquakes; it was rebuilt and re opened in 2013.
  • Tenampua, a ceremonial center of the Lenca culture from the classic Mesoamerican period, was heavily damaged during the Second Honduran Civil War in 1924.
  • Castillo Bogran, an abandoned 19th-century historical building in Santa Barbara that belonged to President Marco Bogran. The building has deteriorated extensively due to heavy rains, hurricanes, and wind. Only 30% of the structure survives today.
  • In April 2009 a fire occurred at the museum of the Saint Agustin College of Comayagua, destroying several pieces of art dating from the Spanish colonial era, including paintings made in Spain and relics that belonged to national heroes.[255]
  • On 30 November 2017 a fire damaged the Museum del hombre In Teguciglapa, strongly damaging the structure of the building. Several pieces were saved but suffered extensive damage.
  • On 12 March 2019 there was a fire in the Museum of the Palace of Telecommunications in Tegucigalpa; 30% of the collection was destroyed and another part damaged.

United States[edit]

The main waiting room of New York City's Pennsylvania Station c. 1911. The station was largely demolished in 1963.


Garden Palace at the Sydney International Exhibition (1879)
Melbourne's Federal Coffee Palace, demolished in 1971
The APA Building, Melbourne
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch, demolished in 2021


New Zealand[edit]

The Anglican ChristChurch Cathedral was severely damaged in the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Demolition was planned and partially done before being stopped entirely in 2012 after government concerns. In 2017 it was announced that the church would be reinstated.

South America[edit]


Ortiz Basualdo Palace circa 1910. Demolished in 1969.


The main building of the National Museum of Brazil in 2011, before it was destroyed by a fire


  • In 1969, an original Flag of the Treinta y Tres from the Cisplatine War was stolen from the history museum. The national symbol was taken on 16 July 1969 by a revolutionary group called OPR-33. The historical flag was last seen in 1975 in Buenos Aires but has been considered missing since the day of its theft. This is still a matter of political debate.[272][273]


  • On 17 October 2004, a fire in the Parque Central Complex of Caracas, Venezuela, destroyed the tower's planoteca, an archive containing the entire history of the country's public building plans spanning two centuries, including aqueduct and sewer systems.[274]

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External links[edit]