World heritage sites that were lost to disasters

  • 16 Apr 2019

France’s Notre Dame Cathedral was severely damaged by a huge fire that took 400 firefighters to put out. Here we look at other heritage sites that have been damaged or destroyed.

Smoke billows as fire engulfs the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France April 15, 2019. ( Reuters )

The fire at Notre Dame de Paris has shocked France, with tributes to the Gothic masterpiece flowing in from around the world.  

But the cathedral, is not only heritage site to have been devastated. Here we look at others that met a similar fate.

National Museum of Brazil (2018)

The National Museum stands gutted after an overnight fire in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018. A huge fire engulfed Brazil’s 200-year-old museum, lighting up the night sky with towering flames as firefighters and museum workers raced to save historical relics from the blaze.(AP)

In September 2018, Brazil's 200-year-old national museum burned down in Rio de Janeiro. 

The blaze, which gutted one of the world's oldest museums, destroyed much of the 20 million piece collection. Recovery efforts since the blaze have been a slow process.

According to researchers, more than 1,500 pieces  have been recovered. However, according to the museum's website, the building housed thousands of items before the fire, including artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art, and some of the first fossils found in Brazil.

Great Mosque of al-Nuri (2017)

Fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the heavily damaged al-Nuri mosque as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Daesh militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, July 4, 2017.(AP)

The Great Mosque of al-Nuri was 850-years old when it was destroyed by Daesh terrorists during the Battle of Mosul in 2017.

The mosque, famous for its leaning minaret was captured by the militants in 2014.

Umayyad Mosque (2012-2013)

A general view shows the damage inside the Umayyad mosque, in the government-controlled area of Aleppo, during a media tour, Syria December 13, 2016.(Reuters)

The minaret and the covered markets that surrounded the Ummayad mosque were destroyed in battles between the Syrian army and rebel fighters in 2012 and 2013, but despite great damage, much of the mosque has survived.

The Bell Tower of the Novodevichy Monastery Moscow (2015)

Fire burns wooden scaffolding surrounding the bell tower of Moscow's Novodevichy monastery, one of the Russian capital's most noted visitor attractions, in Moscow, Russia, on Sunday, March 15, 2015.(AP)

One of Russia’s tallest bell towers and most famous convents was damaged by fire in 2015. The Novodevichy Convent, is on list of the UNESCO world heritage sites, and was saved from extensive damage by firefighters, who got it under control in a short amount time.

La Fenice Opera House (1996)

An aerial view of Venice's La Fenice opera house, which went up in smoke in a fiercy blaze that broke out Monday, Jan. 29 1996.(AP)

La Fenice has burned down a number of times, most recently in 1996. It was rebuilt and re-opened in 2004.

Windsor Castle (1992)

Hours after the major fire started flames continue to rise over Windsor Castle, causing millions of pounds of damage. Windsor Castle 20 miles west of London is used by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as a weekend home and contains many historic works of art.(AP)

Windsor Castle, which was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, survived centuries of England’s often bloody history and World War Two unscathed. But a fire broke out in Queen Victoria’s private chapel in 1992. 

A spotlight might have set a curtain alight. Luckily, many areas had already been emptied of treasures to allow electrical wiring. Paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens and Gainsborough, Sèvres porcelain and ancient books were rushed to safety.