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List of destroyed heritage


Cultural heritage can be subdivided into two types – tangible and intangible heritage. The former includes built heritage such as religious buildings, museums, monuments and archaeological sites, as well as movable heritage such as works of art and manuscripts. Intangible cultural heritage includes customs, music, fashion and other traditions within a particular culture. This article mainly deals with the destruction of built heritage; the destruction of movable heritage is dealt with in Art destruction.

Deliberate and systematic destruction of cultural heritage, such as that carried out by ISIL, is regarded as a form of cultural genocide.

Excavators at the Buddhist site of Mes Aynak have been denounced as "promoting Buddhism" and threatened by the Taliban and many of the Afghan excavators who are working for purely financial reasons don't feel any connection to the Buddhist artifacts.

Destruction of Maya codices by Spanish Priest Diego de Landa.

Several Serbian Orthodox monasteries were destroyed during the World War II by the Ustaše and by Croatian forces during the Yugoslav Wars.

War damage of the Croatian War (1991–95) has been assessed on 2271 protected cultural monuments, with the damage cost being estimated at 407 million DM. The largest numbers – 683 damaged cultural monuments – are located in the area of Dubrovnik and Neretva County. Most are situated in Dubrovnik itself. The entire buildings and possessions of 481 Roman Catholic churches, several synagogues and several Serbian Orthodox churches were badly damaged or completely destroyed. Valuable inventories were looted from over 100 churches. The most drastic example of destruction of cultural monuments, art objects and artefacts took place in Vukovar. After the occupation of the devastated city by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitary forces, portable cultural property were removed from their shelters and museums in Vukovar to the museums and archives in Serbia.



World War II
Croatian War
  • 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.
  • 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 Parthenon was extensively damaged in 1687, during the Great Turkish War (1683-1699). The Ottoman Turks 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.
  • 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 in around the 5th century AD, although it is not known exactly when or how.
  • Tikal Temple 33 was destroyed in the 1960s by archaeologists to uncover earlier phases of construction of the pyramid.
  • In 1024, during the reign of Bhima I, the prominent Afghan ruler Mahmud of Ghazni raided Gujarat, plundered and destroyed the Somnath temple and broke its jyotirlinga. In 1299, Alauddin Khilji's army under the leadership of Ulugh Khan defeated Karandev II of the Vaghela dynasty, and sacked the (rebuilt) Somnath temple. By 1665, the rebuilt temple was once again ordered destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. In 1702, he ordered that if Hindus had revived worship there, it should be demolished completely.
  • Around 1200 CE, one of the most prominent seats of learning in ancient India, Nalanda university, was sacked and destroyed by Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji.
  • In 1565 CE, after the Battle of Talikota, the magnificent capital city of Vijayanagara, with all its exquisite temples, palaces, mansions and monuments, was sacked and completely destroyed by an invading Muslim army raised by the five Bahamani Sultanates. What remains now are only the ruins of Hampi.
  • A large number of Hindu and other (e.g., Jain) temples were destroyed during the Islamic invasions of India.
  • On 6 December 1992, the "Babari Mosque", built n 1528, was destroyed by Hindu extremists.
  • On 26 April 2016, the National Museum of Natural History, New Delhi and its valuable collection of animal fossils and stuffed animals was destroyed by fire.
  • Following the conquest of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Arab Legion in 1948, under the Jordanian occupation, Jewish sites were systematically damaged and destroyed. In particular, all but one of the thirty-five synagogues of the Jewish Quarter were destroyed.
  • Parts of the World Heritage Site of Timbuktu were destroyed after the Battle of Gao in 2012, despite condemnation by UNESCO, the OIC, Mali, and France.
  • A number of buildings of historical or architectural importance which had been included on the Antiquities List were destroyed by aerial bombardment during World War II, including Auberge d'Auvergne, Auberge de France and the Slaves' Prison in Valletta, the Clock Tower,Auberge d'Allemagne and Auberge d'Italie in Birgu, and two out of three megalithic temples at Kordin. Others such as Fort Manoel also suffered severe damage, but were rebuilt after the war.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Azure Window , was 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 on March 2017.
  • The walls, dome and roof of the 7th-century Al-Omari Mosque in Gaza City, Palestine, were destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in August 2014, in addition to several other mosques that were completely destroyed in the assault.
  • 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.
  • 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 totally 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).
  • In Zaragoza were demolished part of the Palace of La Aljafería (1862) and Torre Nueva (1892).
  • Churches, monasteries, convents and libraries were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
  • A Virxe da Barca sanctuary, located in Muxia, was destroyed by lightning.
  • 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.
  • The Library of Jaffna was burned in 1981, which had over 97,000 manuscripts in 1981 as a part of Sri Lankan war.
  • The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was destroyed by arson in 356 BC. It was later rebuilt, but it was damaged in a raid by Goths in 268 AD. Its stones were subsequently used in other buildings, including in Hagia Sophia and other buildings in Constantinople. A few fragments of the structure still survive in situ.
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, another Wonder of the Ancient World, was destroyed by a series of earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries. Most of the remaining marble blocks were burnt into lime, but some were used in the construction of Bodrum Castle by the Knights Hospitaller, where they can still be seen today. The only other surviving remains of the mausoleum are some foundations in situ, a few sculptures in the British Museum, and some marble blocks which were used to build a dockyard in Malta's Grand Harbour.
  • Russian-built NHL Fort Ross Chapel, pre-1841, destroyed 1970, subsequently reproduced
  • Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio. La arquitectura española en sus monumentos desaparecidos. Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1961
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