Famous and Iconic Tourist Attractions That Came Very Close To Destruction
1. The White House
From 1812 to 1815, the USA and the UK had anything but a special relationship. In fact, they were engaged in a pretty vicious conflict and with the whole war situation British troops launched a devastating attack against Washington DC in August 1814. The event has come to be known as the ‘Burning of Washington’, since the British set fire to the White House and pretty much destroyed the interior of the building. Although President, James Madison, was probably annoyed at being rendered temporarily homeless and on the plus side, no one was killed in the blaze but the White House wasn’t safe yet. Just a day later threecolossal tornadoes hit the city ripping up trees and toppling chimneys. An already fragile White House managed to withstand the Furious storms which actually helped put the fires out all over Washington and get rid of the British. The damage was so expensive that it took three years for the White House to be rebuilt to its former glory.
2. Christ the Redeemer
The Christ the Redeemer statue, which stands on the Corcovado mountain overlooking Rio de Janeiro is recognizable all around the world. Yet ever since its construction in 1931, the statue has been under regular threats from one of mother nature’s most destructive forces, lightning. Christ the Redeemer, is a huge 30 meters in ,not including its 8 meter pedestal and stands on top of a 700 meter high mountain. So it’s not really that surprising that it’s fairly prone to lightning strikes. One of the most infamous strikes to hit the statue occurred in February 2007, when a violent thunderstorm severely damaged its fingers, head, and eyebrows. To add insult to injury, vandals climbed the scaffolding erected for the restoration to spray graffiti onto its head. This was met with outrage with the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro calling it a crime against the nation. In January 2014, despite the new conductors installed in his arms, lightning struck again and the statue’s outstretched fingers were once more blasted off.
3. The Great Sphinx of Giza
Estimated to have been built over 4,000 years ago, the Great Sphinx of Giza is the oldest known monumental sculpture in Egypt. At some unknown point in its history, the Sphinx was abandoned and slowly buried up to his shoulders in sand. It is estimated that the now world famous statue would be completely submerged in sand today, if it were not for a series of careful excavations that spanned from 1817 to 1936 that finally uncovered the Sphinx his chest and body. However centuries of neglect had taken its toll part of his headdress had completely eroded off, and there were deep whirring cuts in its neck that had to be repaired and then there’s the mystery of the Sphinx is missing nose which was chiseled off. The most widely accepted explanation for this is that, it wasvandalized by Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, a 15th century Sufi Muslim who was enraged by local peasants making offerings to the Sphinx. He was later executed for the crime.
4. The Colosseum
The Colosseum in Rome which was built in AD 80 is the largest amphitheatre ever constructed. It’s estimated that it could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators and was used to host public spectacles such as gladiatorial contests. Over the centuries the Colosseum has fallen victim to a number of disasters and it’s actually quite a miracle that it’s still standing. In the year 217, lightning struck the Colosseum, igniting the wooden floor of the arena and destroying the upper levels of the interior which had to be rebuilt. More devastating still was the great earthquake of 1349, which caused the out of South Side to completely collapse. Which is why the landmark has the half eroded look it’s famous for today. But not all of the threats to the Colosseum were natural, following the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, people pillaged the Colosseum for building materials. This gradual man-made destruction continued late into the 18th century until Pope Benedict’s xiv consecrated it as a church.
5. Buckingham Palace
Between September 1940 and May 1941, the Luftwaffe attacked London 71 times. More than a million of the city’s houses were destroyed or damaged and over 40,000 civilians were killed and London’s historic landmarks were by no means exempt from this destruction. Buckingham Palace and its grounds were struck on 16 separate occasions. The north wing of the palace was particularly damaged withwindows completely blown out, one Palace worker even died when a bomb hit the Royal Chapel. As a demonstration of resilience in the face of the enemy, the royal family publicly insisted on staying put throughout the war and King George the sixth was even in residence when most of the bombs fell. Similarly the iconic sub Paul’s Cathedral was a major target for German bombers, it was hit by ten significant blasts but still somehow managed to survive. One of the bombs that landed on the Cathedral a time-delayed bomb discovered in September 1940, would have been powerful enough to level the entire building had it not been defused by Royal Engineers.
6. The Washington Monument
Standing at 169 metres the Washington Monument is the world’s tallest stone structure and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in America. However, its construction was marred with complications that led to it being built shoddily and with worryingly cheap materials. The building of the tower began in 1848, almost 50 years after the death of George Washington himself, who as a sidenote believes the monument was a grand waste of money. Between 1854 and 1877 construction had to stop because funds ran out, with questions arising as to whether the project should be scrapped altogether. When it did begin again a different cheaper and less durable kind of marble was used, because of this you can see a visible difference in the shading of the marble. In August 2011, the resulting weakness of the monument was highlighted when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake left numerous deep dangerous cracks in the tower. Thankfully disaster was averted and nobody was hurt in the incident but the landmark had to be closed for almost three years in order to repair it.
7. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
There’s a fairly obvious problem with the construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the clue is in the name. In 13th century, tower leans because it was built on soft ground that was unable to support the weight of the building. Meaning it has sunk at one side. It currently leans at an angle of 4 degrees which isn’t so bad. 13 years ago however the lien had reached five and a half degrees putting it as a very real risk of collapsing. Weights had to be installed on the other side to offset it and this isn’t the only way that the tower has come close to destruction. During World War II, the US suspected that the tower could be used as a Nazi observation post and prepared to destroy it entirely. 23 year-old Leon Wetstein was ordered to get as close as possible to the tower to confirm the US Army suspicions and give the order of the Allied forces to fire upon it. However Wetstein was transfixed by the beauty of the landmark and opted not to radio the command to the waiting troops. To this day it’s never been established whether the Germans were actually inside.
8. Machu Picchu
In the 16th century Spanish conquistadors launched a ruthless campaign against the Incan Empire in order to establish their own colony in the Americas. They burnt Incan settlements to the ground from Ecuador to Argentina and decimated the Inca population largely through the intentional spread of deadly infectious diseases. Remarkably Machu Picchu the most famous Inca Citadel escaped this trail of destruction. First built as an estate for 15th century Inca Emperor Pachacuti today machu picchu is the defining image of the empire. However because of its location on top of Peru’s huayna picchu mountain the settlement isn’t visible from below. As a result the Spanish invaders never knew it was there and it was able to survive completely unscathed. Bonus fact Machu Picchu is amazingly earthquake proof which is pretty handy seeing as Peru is highly seismic. The country is no stranger to major earthquakes, for example the 1746 event that flattened the capital city of Lima. Machu picchu is specially protected against damage because Inca construction often included mortar for stone wolves that are able to move with the rhythm of the earthquake and then resettle as if nothing has happened.
9. The Statue of Liberty
Recognizable worldwide as a symbol of freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty was gifted to the United States by France in 1886. It stands 93 metres above the ground on Liberty Island, Manhattan. When she was first created Lady Liberty was a shiny copper orange color, but within just 20 years she had rusted to a Bluegreen color instead. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A 1980 assessment commissioned in preparation of the statues 100th anniversary found that it was totally rusted through in a number of places particularly in her torch and crown. This assessment also found that her arm had been incorrectly attached, a joint was off by 50 centimeters and an extra beam had to be slotted in to crudely fill the gap. During World War I, this entire arm almost came crashing to the ground. In 1916, German agents destroyed an American munition ship nearby, this caused an explosion equivalent to a five magnitude earthquake which loosens Lady Liberty’s arm even more. Since then Liberty’s torch has been closed off to the public as the risk of the arm falling off is just too high.
10. The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was initially constructed in the late 19th century to celebrate the centenary of the 1789 French Revolution. Today it attracts over 7 million visitors a year more than any other paid tourist attraction in the world. However, it was only initially intended as a temporary installation, the original plan was to demolish it in 1909 and sell it off for scrap metal. But what saved it in the end, its status as an iconic landmark and tourist attraction. No! City officials realized it was valuable as a radio Telegraph station and decided to keep it for that purpose. During World War I antennas installs on the tower intercepted enemy radio communications and were used to send messages dispatching emergency troop reinforcements. Recognizing its value to the Allied forces in the Second World War, Hitler ordered the demolition of the tower. German general Dietrich von Choltitz secretly working against the our dictator ensured that this order was not carried out.