Amphitheater at Palmyra
Frédéric Soltan/Getty

Amazing Tourist Attractions That No Longer Exist

View Slideshow
Amphitheater at Palmyra
Frédéric Soltan/Getty

From Heyday to History

Tourist attractions fade away for a variety of reasons: acts of war, natural disasters, new development, or the throngs just stop coming. No matter the reasons why they fade away, however, we often have photographs to remember them by, sometimes in their heyday. Here are 25 tourist attractions around the world that have succumbed to the passage of time, but were once quite glorious — including the recently collapsed Darwin's Arch rock formation in the Galapagos Islands.


Related: Once Popular Tourist Hotspots That Are Now Totally Abandoned

Darwin's Arch Post Collapse
Hector Barrera/Ecuador's Ministry of Environment

Darwin's Arch

If you were planning on finally visiting the Galapagos Islands this year, you can cross off one site on your to-see list. The central section of this rock bridge formation just off the northern coast of the Galapagos — a popular attraction for tourists and divers alike — collapsed in May 2021. Ecuador's Ministry of Environment attributed the collapse to natural erosion, and CNN reports that some people have renamed the formation the Pillars of Evolution.


Related: 15 Bucket-List Destinations Below the Equator

Sutro Baths
Historical /Getty

Sutro Baths

San Francisco 
This grand bathhouse opened in the late winter of 1896, housing a public saltwater pool complex named after San Francisco mayor and entrepreneur Adolph Sutro. It burned down in 1966, though it was already in the process of being demolished. Its ruins now lie within Golden Gate National Recreation Area in a beach inlet below the famed Cliff House. 


Related: 16 Historic Swimming Pools Around the World

Florida Memory Project
Florida Memory Project by Florida Memory Project (None)

Walt Disney World's River Country

Florida
In 1976, Disney World opened its River Country water park — with slides, a lazy river, and an artificial mountain that made it look like a fake swimming hole — next door to its Treasure Island bird sanctuary (rebranded Discovery Island in 1978). While initially successful, both closed by 2001 due to competition from Disney's other water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. A new resort named Reflections – A Disney Lakeside Lodge was set to open in the same spot in 2022, but there are rumors the construction might have been postponed or canceled. 


Related: 19 Vintage Views of Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Jonah's Tomb
Jonah's Tomb by Matson Photograph (None)

Jonah's Tomb

Mosul, Iraq
The tomb, the final resting place of biblical prophet Jonah, was revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike, and a popular destination for religious pilgrimages. During its history, it has been the site of an ancient Assyrian palace and temple, a Christian church, and a 21st-century mosque. In July 2014, terrorist group ISIS blew up the mosque, destroying the tomb, plundering the site, and looting hundreds of items. While much of the site is still damaged, Iraqi archaeologists have found a previously undiscovered palace built in the seventh century B.C. for an Assyrian king, and a planned reconstruction is underway and expected to be completed in 2023. 


Related: 50 Famous Gravesites Worth Seeing Around the World

Royal Opera House of Valletta
Royal Opera House of Valletta by Photoglob Co. (None)

Royal Opera House of Valletta

Malta
This 1866 opera house suffered extensive fire damage a mere six years after opening, then was reconstructed in 1877. It housed many performances until 1942 when it was nearly completely decimated by German Luftwaffe bombing. While reconstruction has been discussed many times since, it's never been realized, and now the ruins themselves are considered a historical landmark and tourist attraction in their own right, and a portion of the site is still used as an open-air theater for concerts, ballet, and more.  


Related: 36 Bucket-List Destinations for Music Lovers

The Hippodrome Theater
The New York Historical Society/Getty

The Hippodrome Theater

New York City
This Beaux-Arts style theater was quite the spectacle in its peak years, with "lavish spectacles complete with circus animals, diving horses, opulent sets, and 500-member choruses," according to the New York Architecture site. It eventually became a vaudeville theater before suffering further decline and experiencing periodic but significant closings. It was finally demolished in 1939. The site now holds a modern office building. 


Related: 25 Historic Movie Theaters Across America Worth Visiting

The Pink and White Terraces
The Pink and White Terraces by Charles Blomfield (None)

The Pink and White Terraces

Lake Rotomahana, New Zealand
This painting by English artist Charles Blomfield shows these terraces, both along Lake Rotomahananear Rotorua, New Zealand, in all their glory in 1882. Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, they were destroyed just a few years after this painting was created by a volcanic eruption. Today, you can still travel to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley location by boat tour and still see some geothermal features, but nothing quite like the terraces.


Related: 20 Fascinating Places Where Tourists Aren't Welcome

Central Park Casino
Bettmann/Getty

Central Park Casino

New York City
Originally titled the Ladies' Refreshment Salon, this 1864 building was designed as part of the original plans for Central Park and operated as a Gothic-style restaurant for female visitors to the park. It operated as a casino and upscale nightclub before being raided in 1930 as part of a Prohibition enforcement seizure. Finally demolished in 1936, it served as the site of a children's playground before being razed again to make way for SummerStage


Related: 32 Secret Restaurants and Speakeasies Across America

The Original Porcelain Tower
Print Collector/Getty

The Original Porcelain Tower

Nanjing, China
This 15th century Ming dynasty pagoda was 260 feet tall, with nine stories, a staircase in the middle, and so-named for the porcelain bricks used to construct its exterior. Considered one of the seven wonders of the medieval world, it was destroyed in the 19th century during the Taiping Rebellion. With a 2010 donation of around $150 million by Wang Jianlin — reportedly one of the richest men in China — a replica was rebuilt near the same location, along with a museum that showcases the original's cultural influences. 


For more great travel trivia, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Stardust Casino
H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty
The Original Penn Station
Robert R. McElroy/Getty

The Original Penn Station

New York City
This 1910-built rail station served New York until 1963 when it was mostly demolished. In its heyday, parts of it were considered masterpieces of Beaux-Arts architectural design, and it had 11 platforms that served 21 tracks. Today, the plot of land it once stood on contains the modern Penn Station, Pennsylvania Plaza, and Madison Square Garden. 


Related: 50 Stunning Photos of Historic Train Stations Across America

Guaíra Falls
Guaíra Falls by Unknown author (None)

Guaíra Falls

Paraguay, Brazil
This was a site that gave Niagara Falls a run for its money, with a series of 18 waterfalls. According to Britannica, "the falls probably represented the greatest volume of falling water in the world, and they were a tourist attraction for many years." In 1982, a hydroelectric plant built nearby totally submerged the falls — the area is now the site of the Itaipu reservoir.


Related: Beyond Niagara: Where to Find Waterfalls in All 50 States

The Azure Window
Sascha Steinbach/Getty

The Azure Window

Malta
This rock formation located on Dwejra Bay was a natural arch and popular tourist spot until it collapsed during a storm in March 2017. If you still want to see it in its natural glory you can do so in films such as 1981's "Clash of the Titans," 2002's "The Count of Monte Cristo," and in "Game of Thrones" season one's Dothraki wedding scene. 


Related: 50 Iconic Movie Locations Around the World

Vidam Park
Paul Almasy/Getty

The Buddhas of Bamiyan

Afghanistan
Carved into the mountainside in the sixth century, these two huge representations of Gautama Buddha were safe until March 2001, when the Taliban blew them up, destroying them almost completely. Visitors can still see the recesses, as well as nearby caves, passages, and surface paintings. 

Vidam Park
Imagno/Getty
Love Locks Bridge
Frédéric Soltan/Getty

Love Locks Bridge

Paris
Starting in 2015, officials started removing padlocks fastened to one of the city's main bridges, the Pont des Arts, more popularly known as the Love Locks Bridge, after a portion of the bridge collapsed under the locks' weight in 2014. In total, there were around 1 million locks, weighing around 45 tons, fastened to the bridge's metal grills by couples and tourists. The grills have since been replaced with panels painted by street artists. 


Related: 27 Vintage Photos of Historic American Bridges

Duckbill Rock
Duckbill Rock by Steven Pavlov (CC BY-SA)

Duckbill Rock

Oregon
A natural sandstone, hoodoo-esque rock formation in Oregon's northern Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area, this once-touristy spot fell prey in 2016 to teenage vandals, who toppled the rock. 

The Crystal Palace
Hulton Archive/Getty

The Crystal Palace

London
Built in the mid-19th century in Hyde Park, the Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate glass project conceived to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. At the time, the marvel contained the most glass area ever used in a structure. After the exhibition, it was moved to another part of the city before being destroyed by a fire in 1936. Since, the site has been used for a number of purposes, including the now-dormant Crystal Palace Bowl music venue.

Wawona Tree
Kirn Vintage Stock/Getty

Wawona Tree

Yosemite National Park
A family is seen parked near the drive-through Wawona Tree in Yosemite National Park in the 1920s. Families would continue to do that for about another 50 years. In 1969, the tree fell under the weight of snowfall. It can still be visited — only now it is known as the Fallen Tunnel Tree. 

  

Related: 33 Historic National Park Photos for Vintage Views

Wall Arch
Pictures-and-Pixels/Getty
The Mukurob
BryanLever/Getty

The Mukurob

Namibia
Another rock formation that eventually crumbled, this sandstone structure — also known as the "Finger of God" and incredibly popular with tourists in the country — was nearly 40 feet high and weighed around 450 tons. It collapsed in 1988.

Spreepark
Spreepark by Jaromír Kavan (None)

Spreepark

Germany
Another now-abandoned European amusement park, this one was opened by East Germany's socialist government in 1969 and had 1.7 million visitors annually, according to Atlas Obscura. It was shut down in 2002, a fire destroyed much of it in 2014, and in 2019, more of its original attractions were removed. Though the City of Berlin has weighed plans to turn the site into a cultural and arts center, so far those haven't come to fruition. 


Related: 25 Amusement Parks: Then and Now

Amphitheater in Palmyra
Angelo Hornak/Getty

Amphitheater in Palmyra

Syria
Shown here in 1971, the ruins of this second-century amphitheater were a popular spot for history-loving tourists until 2015 when ISIS members staged a mass execution on the theater's stage and then destroyed the theater's facade and part of the stage in 2016. 

Six Flags Over New Orleans
Six Flags Over New Orleans by Chris Hagerman (CC BY)

Six Flags Over New Orleans

Louisiana
Opened in 2000, this theme park had to close five years later after being mostly submerged by Hurricane Katrina. It remains an abandoned site, overgrown and overrun by plants and animals. However, it was announced in late 2020 that the city was actively seeking developers to submit ideas for the site until Feb. 9, 2021. 


Related: 26 Best Cheap Or Free Things To Do In New Orleans

Euston Arch
Hulton Archive/Getty

Euston Arch

London
This once-prominent London arch and landmark, built in 1837, was the entrance to the Euston station. When the station was rebuilt in the early 1960s, it was torn down — by hand, since explosives would cause damage to the buildings near it. 


Related: 20 Spectacular Trails That Used to Be Railroads

Chacaltaya Ski Resort
Santiago Urquijo/Getty

Chacaltaya Ski Resort

Bolivia
At more than 18,000 feet, this area of Bolivia used to serve as a ski resort to apparently very fit skiers from the late 1930s through the end of the 20th century. (Its altitude is higher than Mount Everest's base camp.) A forecast by scientists that the glacier would disappear due to global warming happened years before predicted, in 2009. You can still visit the site by tour, renting a car, or by hiring a taxi to take you from nearby La Paz. Important tip: You might want to acclimatize to the altitude for a few days in the Zongo region before heading up.