35+ Popular Tourist Sites You Should See Before They Disappear

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Some of the world’s most stunning natural sites and iconic, man-made structures might not be around in the future.

Thanks to a combination of factors like climate change and increased development project proposals in their areas, some of these popular tourist attractions are starting to shrink in size, sink, or erode.

From the breathtaking Alps to the iconic Taj Mahal, we’ve put together a list of some of the most famous sites you should see before it’s too late.

Nearly two-thirds of the Great Wall of China has been damaged or destroyed by over-farming, natural erosion, and the selling of bricks that have historic engravings on them.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-01Shutterstock/zhu difeng

Read more about how the Great Wall of China is falling apart »

Sources: The Independent, CNN

The largest man-made structure in the world, the Great Wall of China has survived for over 2,000 years as a favorite must-see destination, but recent over-farming has led to nearly two-thirds of the wall having already been damaged or destroyed. The wall could be reduced to ruins by erosion in as little as 20 years.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-01-1Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian, The Independent

The iconic Taj Mahal, in Agra, India, has been facing years of pollution and erosion that some experts believe could lead to its collapse.

Known for its romantic gondola rides, the city of Venice, Italy, has been sinking for years with severe floods becoming more common over the last few years.


See a satellite map that shows how Venice is sinking »

Source: Time

Get your gondola ride in soon, because Venice has been sinking for a number of years and is showing no signs of stopping. More and more severe floods in recent years are also contributing to the disappearance of the city of canals.

Cambodia’s Angkor temples is the largest religious monument in the world, but the groundwater pumping in the nearby city of Siem Reap is causing some of the temples to sink. It was just named the best tourist site in the world by Lonely Planet.

New York’s South Street Seaport is a waterfront district that once stood at the center of the city’s maritime industry. The site also made The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list for the US’s 11 most endangered historic places this year, thanks to a series of development projects on the pier.

The half-built city of Petra is one of Jordan’s main attractions, but the famous archaeological site has been receding in the last century due to a combination of wind, rain, and the constant touching of its walls by tourists — which is why you should avoid touching any of its perimeters when visiting the site.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-06Shutterstock / Ralf Siemieniec

Take a walking tour of Petra »

Source: CNN

The famous ancient Roman city of Pompeii, in Italy, has been crumbling over the years due to rainstorms and improper water drainage. Already three distinct walls and an entire building of the structure have collapsed, and Italy’s UNESCO commissioner has declared that the site will one day collapse completely.

Since the Alps sit at a lower altitude than other mountain ranges, their glaciers are increasingly prone to shrinking from climate change. The mountain range loses around 3% of its Alpine glacial ice each year and some experts believe it could be gone entirely by 2050.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-08Shutterstock / hanmon

Sources: CNN, Time

Surrounding construction, rising groundwater, and pollution have been threatening the tombs, monuments, and pyramids of Egypt’s Memphis and its Necropolis.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-09Flickr/Christopher Rose

Source: Time

One of America’s most iconic attractions, the Grand Canyon was listed as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the US by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was put on the list due to the increased development proposals that range from uranium mining to tourist resorts, which could lead to significant portions of the Grand Canyon and its main water source being destroyed.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-10Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko

See the full list here >

The walls of the Timbuktu mosques in Mali that were built between the 14th and 16th centuries are made mainly of mud, which is why increases in temperature and rainfall over the years have been causing a continued threat to their stability.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-11Flickr/Carsten ten Brink

Source: Travel Channel

Concern is growing for winemakers in France’s famous vineyards, thanks to rising temperatures that may affect the ability to grow grapes in the future.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-12Flickr/Vincent Brassinne

Source: Travel Channel


The Bolivian city of Potosí is one of the highest in the world, with a height of 13,418 feet. Centuries of mining activity in the area have put the city at risk of collapsing, with a portion of the summit having already crumbled.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-13Shutterstock/Jess Kraft

Source: CNN

Officials in Hawaii are working to try and maintain the large amounts of sand that are disappearing from Waikiki Beach each year. One fourth of the sand on the island is already gone and crews continue to pump sand from offshore channels to try and maintain the area.


Sources: Huffington Post, KITV Channel 4


The Michoacán Mountains in Mexico are famous for housing 200 million or so monarch butterflies that tourists have come to see for years. With illegal deforestation destroying the trees that the butterflies use for protection, their population is at a high risk.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-15Flickr/Luna sin estrellas

Source: Forbes

The historic center and docklands of the maritime city of Liverpool was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. But the iconic home of The Beatles has been put on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger thanks to an $8.7 billion construction development project that is being proposed in the area.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-16Flickr/Beverley Goodwin

Source: CNN

Michelangelo’s frescoes that illuminate Vatican’s Sistine Chapel have been damaged due to millions of tourists who forgo the ban on flash photography to snap a picture. The emission of carbon dioxide can also damage the artworks, which is why a new heating and cooling system was installed.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-17Eric Vandeville-Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Source: CNN

The Dead Sea, bordering Jordan and Israel, is known for its mineral-rich waters, but as residents continue to use water from the River Jordan — which is where the Dead Sea draws its water from — it is in danger of disappearing in the next 50 years.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-18Shutterstock / Nickolay Vinokurov

Source: Time

Italy’s Royal Palace of Caserta is the world’s largest palace by volume and stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, its roof collapsed last year and renovation plans remain delayed due to bureaucratic issues.


Source: CNN

Cincinnati Union Terminal, in Ohio, once stood as a railway before being converted into a museum. The building faces water-based damages and is in need of construction repairs, which is why it made the National Trust’s 2014 list of the US’s most endangered historic places.


Source: CNN

Places You Should Visit Before They Disappear

Earth is home to incredibly beautiful natural sites.

But because of climate change and human carelessness, some of them are in danger of disappearing in the next 100 years — or even sooner.

In honor of Earth Day, we found 20 places all travelers should see while they still exist. From ancient Mayan ruins in Guatemala to the Swiss alps, these threatened natural wonders span the globe.

A popular destination for honeymooners or paradise-seekers, the islands of the Seychelles — located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar — are vanishing because of beach erosion. They’re in danger of completely disappearing in the next 50 to 100 years.

The picturesque snow that tops Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania may not be there much longer. In the years from 1912 to 2007, Kilimanjaro’s ice sheet had shrunk by a whopping 85%.

The Mirador Basin and Tikal National Park in Guatemala are home to the mysterious ruins of Mayan civilization. Illegal looting and forest burning, however, may destroy this piece of history.

A province of Cádiz nestled in the mountains of Andalusia in southern Spain, Zahara de la Sierra is losing its wildlife and greenery because of a rise in temperature and a drop in rainfall in recent years.

The shores of North Carolina’s Outer Banks are eroding the land they border, putting landmarks such as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse — which dates back to 1870 — in danger.

Madagascar’s forests are predicted to exist for only another 35 years because of a multitude of fires and mass deforestation.

Source: The Huffington Post

The number of glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park has decreased to fewer than 25, from 150, and in another 15 years there may be none left.

A combination of too many tourists and foreign species that don’t belong is threatening the ecosystem and unique native species of the Galapagos Islands, a group of islands off the coast of Ecuador.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-28Shutterstock / Longjourneys

Africa’s Congo Basin, the world’s second-largest rainforest, is also one of the most biodiverse areas, with over 10,000 plant species, 1,000 bird species, and 400 mammal species. In the past few years, the 1.3-million-square-mile forest has been decreasing rapidly because of illegal mining, and the United Nations predicts two-thirds of it may be completely gone by 2040.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-29Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Source: CNN, NBC

The Florida Everglades have been referred to as the most threatened park in the US. Too much water, new species, and urban development are all part of the problem.

Source: Florida Museum of Natural History

Bad news for hikers and winter sports fans: Climate change has a strong effect on the Alps because they’re at a lower altitude than other mountain ranges, such as the Rockies. Every year, the European mountain range loses around 3% of glacial ice, which means that by 2050 there might not be any more glaciers.

The world’s largest coral reef, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, has decreased by more than half its size because of rising temperatures in the past 30 years. Increased acid pollution has also began to lead to coral bleaching, slowly turning its famed vibrant corals white. Scientists predict the site could be completely gone by 2030.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-32Shutterstock/Brian Kinney

Source: Time

Egypt’s pyramids and Great Sphinx are facing erosion from pollution. As sewage is weakening the plates they stand on, there are concerns that the pollution may eventually lead to their complete collapse.


Source: Frommer’s

At an impressive 2.1 million square miles, Brazil’s Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world. It’s home to the world’s most diverse species, but expansion of agriculture could lead to the destruction of the rainforest.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-34Mario Tama/Getty Images

Source: The Guardian, National Geographic

The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is slowly sinking because of climate change. Scientists predict that within 100 years, it will be completely submerged.


Source: BBC News

Big Sur in California is known for offering up-close whale watching, but recent droughts and wildfires are significantly harming the coastal region and leading to fewer sightings of the mammals each year.

AD-Popular-Tourist-Sites-You-Should-See-Before-They-Disappear-36Getty Images Ltd. From 100 Places to Go Before They Disappear, published by Abrams.

Source: PBS

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