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Top 10 Places and Landmarks Destroyed by Nature

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden

Script written by Garrett Alden

Humans build . . . Mother Nature laughs. From the Azure Window, to Helike, Greece, to Petra, Jordan, these incredible feats of human creation were no match for the fury of nature. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Places and Landmarks Destroyed by Nature.

Special thanks to our user TomDalyDog for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Places+and+Landmarks+Destroyed+by+Nature.

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Transcript
Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Places and Landmarks Destroyed by Nature

Humans build . . . Mother Nature laughs. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 places and landmarks destroyed by nature.
For this list, we’ll be looking at locations and landmarks, both manmade and natural, which were destroyed by natural forces.

#10: Azure Window

Located on an island off the coast of Malta, the Azure Window was a natural rock archway that extended into the ocean. The scenic beach landmark has memorably featured in several television shows and films, such as “Game of Thrones.” Over the last 30 years of its existence, slabs had fallen away from it, partially due to actions by humans, both accidental and intentional. But the Azure Window’s final collapse occurred because of powerful storms in March 2017, sending the once proud feature of Malta down to the ocean floor.

#9: Helike, Greece

A city in ancient Greece, Helike was once a major religious center, with special patronage to the sea god, Poseidon. In the winter of 373 BC, it was reported that all the animals left the city. Five days later, an earthquake struck, sinking the city immediately below ground and instantly killing all its residents. Not only that, the collapse was so tremendous, it sent powerful reverberations into the surrounding water and caused a tsunami that flooded the hole and buried Helike twice over in a literal watery grave. The city’s contemporaries attributed its devastation to the wrath of Poseidon.

#8: Petra, Jordan

Located in a canyon in present day Jordan, Petra (formerly known as Raqmu), was once the capital city of the Nabataean Kingdom, notable for its intricate stone architecture and a key hub of trade in the region. While the city began to decline after being conquered and the loss of trading sea routes, it was a natural disaster that sealed its fate. In 363 AD, a large earthquake hit the region, which demolished many of its buildings, as well as cutting off its primary water supply. Parts of Petra still stand today though, and have been made famous by films, such as the third “Indiana Jones.”

#7: Arg e Bam

Translated to English as the Bam Citadel, the Arg-e Bam is a large adobe fortress located in present-day Iran, and is the biggest adobe building in the world. Named for its once-impressive tower, the Arg-e Bam is over 2000 years old, though precise figures as to its exact age are difficult to find. Much of the castle (and the rest of Bam) was destroyed in a deadly earthquake in 2003, as its position atop a hill made it especially vulnerable. Restoration efforts are currently underway, with the site being declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.

#6: Akrotiri, Greece

An unnamed Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the island of Santorini (or, Thira), Akrotiri is so-named due to a nearby modern town. First settled around 5000 BC, Akrotiri was remarkably advanced for its time, featuring paved streets and drainage systems that would not become commonplace for hundreds and hundreds of years. It was destroyed in the enormous volcanic eruption of Santorini, in 1627 BC. However, unlike some other volcanically destroyed towns, Akrotiri features no preserved human remains, indicating it was likely evacuated. Akrotiri’s technical advancements, unknown name, and sudden fall have made it a popular suggestion fas to the true identity of Atlantis.

#5: Port Royal

This Jamaican town was once the largest port city of the Caribbean, thanks in no small part to the influx of funds acquired, and spent, by pirates. However, Port Royal’s residents built tall buildings on sandy ground, which made it no surprise when it was destroyed by, yes, an earthquake, in 1692, at around 11:43 a.m. It killed half the city's population and sank it beneath the waves. Though a town survives there, Port Royal never recovered its former glory. Now a popular site for underwater exploration, a diver even found a pocket watch from the sunken city, which is how we now know the time of its destruction.

#4: Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Turkey

An elaborate tomb for a Persian satrap, or governor, this “mausoleum” actually gave rise to that term, as it was named for its occupant, Mausolus. Constructed around 350 BC, the building was designed as part of a collaboration between four Greek architects. The fantastic design was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is the most recent of the six to have been lost. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was felled by a series of earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries AD. Its remains were repurposed to construct a nearby castle, so only a few fragments are still standing.

#3: Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

Constructed off the coast of Alexandria, during the middle of the 3rd century BC, the Lighthouse of Alexandria is another one of the Ancient World’s Seven Wonders. Also known as the Pharos of Alexandria, it was the tallest human-made structure in the world for centuries, standing at around a whopping 330 feet tall. It’s also thought to be the model upon which nearly every subsequent lighthouse has been based. Unfortunately, its own light was extinguished by a series of earthquakes over several hundred years that left it in ruins by the 15th century AD.

#2: Colossus of Rhodes, Greece

Yet another one of the Seven Ancient Wonders, the Colossus of Rhodes also stood in a harbor; that of its eponymous city. Constructed of iron and bronze (though accounts differ as to its exact composition) the statue depicted Helios, the Greek titan god of the sun, and was around 108 feet high. Built in 280 BC, the Colossus stood for a mere 50 years before its legs were snapped by an earthquake; the people of Rhodes never rebuilt or repaired it, out of superstition that they had angered Helios, leaving its metals to be sold off by conquering armies.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
Old Man of the Mountain, USA

Elephant Rock, Canada

#1: Pompeii, Italy

Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD, blanketing the Roman colony city of Pompeii in ash and debris, killing its 11 thousand inhabitants very quickly. Due to sudden nature of the event, many of the town’s residents, items, and buildings were preserved incredibly well. This has caused the site to become one of the most important and enduringly fascinating archaeological sites in history, since it has allowed us to intimately understand how people of the period lived. While other cities, such as the nearby Herculaneum, were also preserved in a similar manner, Pompeii’s fame, and importance to the study of history, had to make it our top pick.
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