From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to natural wonders, here are 8 places we lost forever in the last ten years that we'll never get to visit.
Too many of us make the mistake of thinking that we have all the time in the world to see and do everything in our travel bucket list, but if the last decade has shown us anything is that the world’s most beautiful places are not always with us forever. Here is a list of eight places that we lost in the last decade due to human action or natural disasters.
The Azure Window - Malta
The Azure Window used to be the symbol of the island of Gozo in Malta. The 28-meter-tall limestone arch that rose up out of the Mediterranean Sea was even featured in the first season of Game of Thrones as the backdrop to the Dothraki wedding scene, but in 2017, it was destroyed by a heavy storm. The Window’s collapse reportedly left the people of Malta brokenhearted.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square - Nepal
Located thirteen kilometers away from Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital, Durbar Square was the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom and the center of modern-day Bhaktapur. Sadly, the square was destroyed in the 7.8 degree earthquake that hit the Kathmandu valley in 2015. The terrifying earthquake also took the lives of more than two thousand people. In addition, many World Heritage statues and temples dating back to the 12th century suffered damages that have not been repaired to this day.
Palmyra - Syria
In May 2015, four years after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the middle of the country and dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE. The terrorist group destroyed the site in stages (first, statues; then, temples and towers) and filmed their rampage as part of propagandistic efforts. According to them, it was a way to put an end to “idol worship,” which goes against their Islamic views.
The Finger of God - Gran Canaria, Spain
The Finger of God used to be a thin column sitting atop a 30-meter-high sea stack off the coast of Gran Canaria island in the Atlantic Ocean. The formation was an emblematic symbol for the island, but in 2005, Tropical Storm Delta blew it away, and it fell into the sea. The island’s residents debated whether to rebuild it but finally decided against it, so now visitors see only the remaining stack.
Lake Malawi - East Africa
Located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Lake Malawi is one of several bodies of water that have dried up in recent years as a result of climate change. Hundreds of fishermen have had to leave, looking for temporary jobs that might be permanent after all. However, this is not the first time the lake has dried up completely. Over the last century, the lake has dried up due to a variety of environmental problems, wiping off the native wildlife completely every time.
Aral Sea - Central Asia
This body of water hasn’t disappeared completely, but currently, it has only 10% of the volume it had in the 1960s, when it was the fourth largest in the world. Located between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Aral Sea started shrinking after a Soviet irrigation project diverted the rivers that fed it. This event has been qualified as one of the world’s worst environmental disasters in recent memory.
Duckbill - Oregon
Duckbill was a sandstone rock formation located at Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area on the northern Oregon coast. The formation was a popular tourist attraction until August 2016, when a group of vandals toppled the landmark, claiming they wanted to protect future visitors from getting injured at the site. Later, park officials claimed that the rock had never presented a risk to anyone, but still, Duckbill is lost forever, and the culprits have never been caught.
According to a study published in Environmental Research Letters, five small Pacific islands disappeared in recent years due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion. Their names were Rapita, Rehana, Kakatina, Zollies, and Kale. Fortunately, none of them were inhabited, but it is now certain that many more islands in the Pacific will disappear underwater in the coming years due to climate change, forcing local residents to relocate permanently.
Cover image: Palmyra. Bernard Gagnon [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]