List of destroyed heritage

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One of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, which were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001

This is a list of cultural heritage sites which were damaged or destroyed throughout the course of history, sorted by country. The destruction may be accidental, deliberate or due to natural disasters.

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.[1][2] 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.[3][4]


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.[5]






Bosnia and Herzegovina

Stari Most was destroyed by Croat forces in 1993 but was later rebuilt

Central America

Destruction of Maya codices by Spanish Priest Diego de Landa.



World War II

Several Serbian Orthodox monasteries were destroyed during the World War II by the Ustaše and by Croatian forces during the Yugoslav Wars.[13]

Croatian War

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.[14] The largest numbers – 683 damaged cultural monuments – are located in the area of Dubrovnik and Neretva County. Most are situated in Dubrovnik itself.[15] 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.[14]



Damage to the Pyramid of Menkaure












The destruction of the Buddhist artifacts by Islamists took place in the aftermath of the coup in which Mohamed Nasheed was toppled as President.[33] Islamist politicians entered the government which succeeded Nasheed.[34][35]

Buddhist antiquities were obliterated by Islamist radicals in the National Museum.[36][37]

The Museum was stormed by Islamists who destroyed the Buddhist artifacts.[38][39]

The non Muslim artifacts of Buddhist provenance were specifically singled out by the attackers.[40][41]

The destruction was caught on camera.[42]

Most of Maldive's Buddhist physical history was obliterated.[43][44]

Hindu artifacts were also targeted for obliteration and the actions have been compared to the attacks on the Buddhas by the Taliban.[45][46][47][48][49][50]

February 7, 2012 was the date of the anti-Buddhist attack by the Islamists.[51]



Large neoclassical opera house
Ruins of a neoclassical opera house
The Royal Opera House in Valletta in 1896, and its ruins in 2016. The building was destroyed by aerial bombardment in 1942.


The 7.8 Richter scale earthquake in 2015 demolished the heritage Dharahara situated at Kathmandu which was a main tourist attraction in Nepal. It also destroyed centuries old temples in the Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar Squares .[64][65]



Swat Valley in Pakistan has many Buddhist carvings, stupas and Jehanabad contains a Seated Buddha status.[66] Kushan era Buddhist stupas and status in Swat valley were demolished by the Taliban and after two attempts by the Taliban, the Jehanabad Buddha's face was dynamited.[67][68][69] Only the Bamiyan Buddhas were larger than the carved giant Buddha status in Swat near Mangalore which the Taliban attacked.[70] The government did 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.[71] Islamists, such as the Taliban and looters, destroyed much of Pakistan's Buddhist artifacts left over from the Buddhist Gandhara civilization especially in Swat Valley.[72] The Taliban deliberately targeted Gandhara Buddhist relics for destruction.[73] The Christian Archbishop of Lahore Lawrence John Saldanha wrote a letter to Pakistan's government denouncing the Taliban activities in Swat Valley including their destruction of Buddha statues and their attacks on Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus.[74] Gandhara Buddhist artifacts were illegally looted by smugglers.[75] A rehabilitation attempt on the Buddha was made by Luca Olivieri from Italy.[76]



The Loon Church before and after the 2013 Bohol earthquake

World War II

The resulting carnage and the aftermath of the Battle of Manila (followed by the Manila massacre) is responsible for the near total obliteration and evisceration of irreplaceable cultural, and historical heritage & treasures of the "Pearl of the Orient" (an international melting pot and a living monument of the meeting and confluence of Spanish, American and Asian cultures). Countless government buildings, universities and colleges, convents, monasteries and churches, and their accompanying treasures, all dating back to the 16th century and in a variety of style, were wiped out and ruined by both Japanese and inadvertently the American forces battling for the control of the city.

The most devastating damage happened at the ancient walled city of Intramuros, as a result of the assault from 23–26 February, until its total liberation on 4 March, Intramuros was a shell of its former glory (except the church of San Agustin, the sole survivor of the carnage). Outside the walls, large areas of the city had been levelled; Warsaw was also a heavily damaged victim of the second World War, but unlike its European counterpart, Manila never recovered its former pre-War glory.

After the Liberation, as part of rebuilding Manila, most of the buildings damaged during the war were either demolished in the name of "Progress", or rebuilt in a manner that bears no resemblance to the original; replacing European architectural styles during the Spanish and early American era with modern American- and imitation-style architecture. Only a few surviving old buildings remain intact, though even those that remain are continuously endangered to deterioration & neglect, political mismanagement brought on by graft and corruption, rapid urbanization & economic redevelopment, low public awareness & ignorance.

2013 Bohol earthquake

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 Cathedral of Christ the Saviour being demolished in 1931

Saudi Arabia




Sri Lanka


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


United Kingdom

United States

See also


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