6 historical sites that we can no longer visit

The Notre Dame Cathedral is the most recent of many major landmarks to be destroyed. These tourist attractions will never be the same again.

Ali Jenning
Ali Jenning

Ali Jennings is a freelance writer, house sitter, and teacher currently residing in the UK.

6 historical sites that we can no longer visit
Photo:Rosen Ivanov Iliev/Shutterstock

Most of us have heard of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, and the Statue of Zeus. When we consider historical sites that we can no longer visit, our minds usually turn to these three and the rest of the seven ancient wonders of the world. But many other historical sites have disappeared over the years, some of them more recently, and are now lost to the world forever. While it is no longer possible for you to visit these once amazing places, it is important that we remember them. Here is a list of 6 such sites:

6. Pyramid at Nohmul Complex, Nohmul, Belize


Photo: Lev Levine/Shutterstock

It is true that some people do not recognize – or care – about the historical significance of certain buildings and constructions, and this can certainly be said of the Pyramids at the Nohmul Complex in Belize, one of the lesser-known historical sites on this list. Nohmul is a pre-Colombian Maya site considered to be the most important of its kind in northern Belize. The complex is split into two separate parts, the East Group and West Group, which in total include over 80 structures.

Once these structures included a 17-meter tall pyramid, the tallest structure within the site. However, in 2013 a construction company was working on a road nearby and needed gravel to complete it – they proceeded to knock down the pyramid for the material. The construction workers had completely demolished the pyramid by the time the authorities were alerted to the situation. The destruction caused quite a scandal in Belize as, although the site itself has never been developed for tourism purposes, all of the country’s ancient Maya sites are protected by law.

5. Paleis voor Volksvlijt, The Netherlands

Paleis voor Volksvlijt, The Netherlands

Photo: Volksvlijt/Arcam

One of the lesser-known historical sites that we can longer visit, the Paleis voor Volksvlijt was an exhibition center based on London’s Crystal Palace (another site which is no more). Constructed in the mid-19th century, the Paleis cut an imposing figure, with its cast-iron gates, mosaic floors, and impressive organ, with many considering it to be the finest building in all of Amsterdam.

It was soon decided that the building was not going to be feasible as an exhibition hall, so it was turned into an entertainment center and went on to host a wide variety of arts and entertainment events. The building also housed a restaurant and two shopping districts. The Paleis remained popular among local citizens until it caught fire and was destroyed in 1929. The site where it once stood is now the location of the Nederlandsche Bank building.

4. Al-Madina Souq, Aleppo, Syria

Al-Madina Souq in Syria

Photo: Rosen Ivanov Iliev/Shutterstock

Much like Iraq, Syria has made headlines in recent years due to the country’s ongoing civil war. These conflicts, like in Iraq, has led to the destruction of important historical sites, leaving many of its cities a shadow of their former glory. One of these was the Al-Madina Souq in Aleppo. Once the largest covered souk in the world, Al-Madina had been the heart of Aleppo since its foundation in the 14th century and was a major trade center.

The souk was particularly known for its imports of luxury goods, including raw silk from Iran and Indian spices. In 2012, fighting broke out between the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Armed Forces, resulting in the destruction of many of its sections. Despite being completely destroyed, there are plans to rebuild this wonderful part of Aleppo.

3. Jonah’s Tomb, Mosul, Iraq

Jonah’s Tomb, Mosul, Iraq

Photo: Jonah’s Tomb/Unesco

The city of Mosul in Iraq is popular for being the location of an array of hugely significant religious sites, and while Iraq is now more commonly known as one of the more dangerous destinations in the world, it once had a substantial tourism industry, especially concerning religious pilgrimages. However, some of its sites have been destroyed in recent years by terrorist forces.

One such site is Jonah’s Tomb, believed to have been the resting place of the Prophet Jonah and once revered as one of the most important sites in the whole country. As well as being a popular pilgrimage site, the tomb was a symbol of unity to Muslims, Jews, and Christians across the Middle East. Following its destruction, Islamic State fighters plundered the site for items to sell on the black market, but thankfully some larger artifacts have remained intact.

2. Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Library of Alexandria - Egypt

Library of Alexandria-artistic rendition. Photo: Nhulkund

Alexandria is mostly synonymous with its world-famous lighthouse, however, there was another highly important site in the Egyptian coastal city that is equally worthy of remembrance. The Library of Alexandria was one of the largest of its kind in the ancient world and contained some remarkable works, including original writings of influential thinkers of the day, such as Homer, Plato, Sophocles, and Socrates.

It was partly because of the library’s existence that Alexandria came to be regarded as the capital of knowledge and learning. Many people believe that the Library of Alexandria was catastrophically destroyed in a fire, but in reality, it declined gradually over several centuries, beginning in 145 BC with the purge of intellectuals on the order of Ptolemy VIII Physcon. Other disasters to hit the library include an accidental fire caused by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, a lack of funding and support during the Roman Period, and finally a rebellion attack in the 270s AD, although this is only presumed as the library may have ceased to exist by then.

1. New York Hippodrome, United States

New York Hippodrome

Photo: Susan Law Cain/Shutterstock

Billed as the world’s largest theatre on its opening in 1905 and possibly the most famous of this list of historical sites that we can no longer visit, the New York Hippodrome housed a 100-foot by 200-foot stage, capable of accommodating one thousand performers, and could seat over five thousand guests. During its early years, vaudeville performers and circuses both held performances in the theatre, and even Harry Houdini, the world-famous escapologist performed his incredible feats here.

However, the cost of running such a large building eventually took its toll, and its later years were filled with much less popular performances, such as wrestling and late-night movies. As property prices began to increase exponentially during the 1930s, the Hippodrome ran into massive financial difficulties, finally closing in 1939. The building was demolished and now houses large office blocks.

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