Disappearing Unesco World Heritage Sites Resurrected Through Animated Gifs

War, looting, and the natural elements are all playing a role in the destruction of these Heritage Sites.

Disappearing Unesco World Heritage Sites Resurrected Through Animated Gifs

Budget Direct

Care for a virtual trip around the world? Today you are in luck. UNESCO World Heritage sites are scattered across the world, with each landmark preserving glimpses of the past, historic human ingenuity, and natural wonders.

Diverse in number, World Heritage sites have universal application, “belonging to all the world’s peoples,” no matter where they are located. Perhaps you have even traveled to one of these unique places at some point in your life. 

Properly preserving some of these Heritage sites is no easy feat, and sadly, some of these invaluable locations run the risk of disappearing from the world, never to be seen again. Natural disasters, human conflict, climate change, and urbanization threaten a lot of meaningful landmarks. UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger highlights these places.

Currently, featuring 53 properties, these landmarks are slowly losing the characteristics that make them special. In most cases, you may not even get to see these places in your lifetime. However, the minds at Budget Direct have decided to step in and help out. 

Just like in our article exploring reconstructed castle’s, the talented team has found a way to bring some of these UNESCO World Heritage sites to life. Working with the talented architect, Jelena Popovic, the team researched six legendary sites to create gif animations, reconstructing the sites.

Each gif showcases what the landmark originally looked like and what it looks like now, truly capturing the beauty of these World heritage sites. Before we jump in and look at the gifs, let’s do a quick refresher on Unesco World Heritage. 

World Heritage sites belong to every human being around the world, including you. 

So, what exactly is World Heritage? In short, it is a designation for places across the globe that offer “outstanding universal value to humanity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO aims to protect and preserve these landmarks so that future generations can appreciate and enjoy them. 

Featuring well over 1007 natural and cultural places around the world, the list of landmarks include the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the USA, and the Acropolis in Greece. As we said, you have probably come across a World Heritage site at some point. 

Some of the key tenets of the global organization include, “Encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage. Encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites.

Help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training. Encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage.” 

The following sites are all mentioned on the World Heritage Danger list. However, the creator chose to avoid natural sites or places that lacked accurate historical design information. Now, sit back and enjoy the tour. 

Bringing back the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls 

Source: Budget Direct

The city of Jerusalem is one of the most historically significant cities in the world. The city operates as a holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, making it a place of immense historical importance. Added to the World Heritage list in 1981, the city hosts 220 historical monuments, including the Wailing Wall, which dates back all the bay to 20BCE and the Dome of the Rock. However, just a year later, in 1982, Jerusalem was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger list. 

According to UNESCO, rapid urbanization and severe destruction put many of the historic areas in the city at risk. This historic holy city has encountered historical figures like King David, Alexander the Great, King Herod, and Muhammad. Throughout its long history, the city has been conquered by the Romans, Persians, Arabs, Fatimids, Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, Egyptians, Mamelukes, and Islamists. 

Portobelo-San Lorenzo Fortification: Spanish colonial military architecture comes back to life 

Source: Budget Direct

In its former glory, Portobelo-San Lorenzo forts were stunning architectural feats, built to protect transcontinental trade. These 17th- and 18th-century examples of military architecture can be seen in Panama on the Caribbean coast. At the time of their creation, they were impressive technological feats, adaptive to just about any military situation with UNESCO themselves describing the sites as a “masterpiece of human creative genius.” The historical fort highlights how European building models impacted the “New World.”

Explicitly located in the Province of Colo – District of Cristobal, the Portobelo-San Lorenzo Forts became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1980. Sadly, urbanization, maintenance issues, and natural forces all threaten the landmark, causing it to make the danger list in 2012. 


Leptis Magna: A beautiful example of Roman urban planning and architecture

Source: Budget Direct

Leptis Magna was said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the Roman Empire, featuring stunning public monuments, a harbor, market-place, storehouses, shops, and residential districts. Located in the District of Kohms in modern-day Libya, the ancient city was added to the World Heritage list in 1982. However, recently, in 2016, the site was added to the danger list.

The 193CE emperor Septimius Severus (no relation to the Severus family in Harry Potter) was responsible for this ancient city’s reputation using his wealth and power to make the city the third most crucial Roman city in Africa. The city included stunning gardens and beautiful theatres. Unfortunately, time, local conflicts, and history have not been kind to this ancient gem. 

Nan Madol: A city on water 

Source: Budget Direct

Nan Madol has been dubbed as the ceremonial center of Eastern Micronesia. It features more than 100 islets off the south-east coast of Pohnpei that were constructed with walls of basalt and coral boulders. On these isles, you will find stone palaces, temples, tombs, and residential domains built between 1200 and 1500 CE.

These ruins played a vital role in the history of the Saudeleur dynasty, a ruling family that shaped Pacific Island cultures. Even more so, the complex structures on the sites highlight the structural sophistication and engineering that is still celebrated today. It was made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2016. However, that same year, it was added to the danger list due to natural elements compromising the stonework.

Palmyra: A dying ancient city

Source: Budget Direct

Located in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a city that is considered by many to be one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. In its prime, during the 1st and 2nd century A.D., the city effortlessly merged the architecture techniques of the Greek and Romans with the local Persian influences.

The city was a caravan oasis. The region itself has even had an influence on more modern architectural styles. Sadly, conflicts in the region have caused the ancient town and a lot of its artifacts to be destroyed.

Hatra: The fortified city 

Source: Budget Direct

In its prime, this World Heritage site was the capital of the first Arab Kingdom, withstanding the Romans’ invasions in 116 and 198 A.D thanks to massive thick walls reinforced by towers. Throughout the capital, you would find a fusion of Hellenistic and Roman architecture that featured Eastern decoratives.

The ancient city of power was added to the Heritage Site list in 1985. While in 2015, the site was added to the Unesco danger list, after conflicts in the region caused many of the statues to be destroyed.   

Which one of the historical sites is your favorite? Leave your comments below. For articles on engineering history, be sure to stop by here


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Donovan Alexander <p><span>After 5 years in the start-up world collaborating with companies like Google and &Scaron;koda Auto, the award-winning marketer Donovan Alexander restarted his career. He has combined his passion for artificial intelligence, fashion, design, and technology to begin a new journey as an aspiring multidisciplinary designer and technology writer. Throughout his career, he has authored over 300 articles, worked on 34 advertising campaigns for international brands, and curated 4 major art projects. Donovan is fascinated with how emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and 3D printing are changing the way we design and engineer our everyday products. With a creative studio based in the heart of Europe, Donovan loves sharing the stories of the people and organizations engineering change around the world.</span></p>