Storms, war, wear, and fire have destroyed a lot of natural and human-created landmarks around the world so far in the 21st century. This is not an easy subject to write about. The fact that virus-weary travelers have not been able to gawk at some landmarks is not an altogether bad thing.
Arches collapse. A lot of natural arches have disappeared around the world since this century began. The Wall Arch in Arches National Park in Utah fell to pieces in 2008. There are good before and after photos of Wall Arch on NPS.gov. An arch on Legzira Beach in Morocco collapsed in 2016. The next year Malta’s Azure Window Arch on the island of Gozo fell during a storm. It may not be a stone arch, but the “Pioneer Cabin Tree”, a drive-through Sequoia in California’s Big Tree State Park, was also destroyed by a storm in 2017. In 2018 a killer storm tore through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains downing 14 million trees and destroying property. In January, 2020 Darcy Schild wrote an Insider article about some of these and posted it on insider.com.
Ruth and I thoroughly enjoyed swimming and diving on a cruise to the Great Barrier Reef early in our travels. We met Australians who became life-long friends as a result. I have been told that today’s visitors see a less vivid reef due largely to warming water and bleaching.
Tourism is causing damage to many other landmarks. The Galapagos Islands are “fragile to outside influence.” Many websites document this. UNESCO put these islands on its World Heritage in Danger list in 2007. As a wise result, visitors now must have a licensed guide to explore these islands.
Earthquakes and tsunamis are natural events that alter The Earth. Fires can be natural events too if not arson. It received little international notice except by Mapquest Travel, but Japan’s Shuri Castle, a 14th century construction on the island of Okinawa, was destroyed by fire in October, 2020. A short-circuit may have cause the Notre Dame fire in 2019. Rebuilding its toppled spire exactly as it was has become a national obsession. This and repairing a lot of other damage to the cathedral before the 2024 Olympics in Paris is ongoing. In the meantime, Notre Dame is closed to tourists.
Wars in the 21st century have caused a lot of landmark destruction. The 7 years of war in Syria, for example, has caused 200 billion dollars worth of damage to this country’s infrastructure by one estimate. The city of Raqqa has reportedly been hardest hit. BBC News did a good job of covering the damage to the ancient city of Palmyra in 2016 with lots of photos on its website.
Speaking of war damage, Ruth & I consider ourselves fortunate to have visited the Peach Memorial Park in Hiroshima. At the end of World War II an atomic bomb did major damage to the Gembaku Dome that is an unforgettable part of what visitor’s now see.