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Heritage landmarks devastated by fires

Heritage landmarks devastated by fires

Vedran Smailović playing the cello in the destroyed Bosnia National Library, in 1992. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

PARIS: Before Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames on Monday (Apr 15), several heritage sites around the world have been either completely or partially destroyed by fires. Here are some examples.


The southern facade and the a rose window of York Minster, 2010. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

On Jul 9, 1984, a fire believed to have been triggered by a lightning strike caused severe damage to Britain's imposing York Minster. The massive blaze destroyed the roof of the south transept of the Gothic cathedral, which was completed in the 15th century.

The intense heat cracked its magnificent 16th century stained glass Rose Window into tens of thousands of pieces but it was able to be painstakingly repaired.

Restoration work on the minster was completed in 1988 at a cost of £2.25 million (around £5.1 million, US$6.7 million today).


Brazil's National Museum in 2011. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Overnight on Sep 2-3, 2018, Brazil's National Museum, north of Rio de Janeiro, was ravaged by a massive fire.

Latin America's largest natural history and anthropology museum held more than 20 million artefacts and 530,000 titles.

The museum was particularly reputed for the richness of its paleontology department with more than 26,000 fossils, including a dinosaur skeleton discovered in Brazil's central Minas Gerais.

Several specimen of species that disappeared in the blaze included giant sloths and sabre-toothed tigers.

READ: Notre-Dame, loved through the ages yet neglected: Historian

READ: Notre-Dame, soul of the French nation


La Fenice in 2007. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The interior of La Fenice in 2015. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1996 Venice's celebrated opera house La Fenice was gutted by fire.

With its near-perfect acoustics, La Fenice, opened in 1792, was one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world and one of the most famous in the history of opera.

Two electricians were sentenced to six and seven years in prison on negligence charges.

It reopened in 2004.


The Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2019. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1994, the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona's world-famous opera house was destroyed by fire.

One of Spain's cultural jewels, the 150-year-old theatre was gutted in a blaze in which only the foyer and the horseshoe arch over the auditorium were left standing. It has since been reconstructed.


Windsor Castle in 2007. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A major fire at Windsor Castle, west of London, on Nov 20, 1992, destroyed the northeastern part of the royal site, the queen's weekend residence.

Nine of the rooms were left unrecognisable by the fire, which started in the former Chapel Royal when a lighting projector too close to a curtain started the blaze during routine maintenance work.

It took 250 firefighters working 15 hours and pumping more than 6.5 million litres of water to bring the blaze under control.

The Castle reopened to the public in 1997 after five years of restoration.


Sarajevo City Hall, also known as Vijecnica, in 1941. Bosnia's 19th century National Library was destroyed when the building was shelled in 1992. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bosnia's 19th century National Library was destroyed in the war-time siege of the city of Sarajevo, overnight on Aug 25-26 1992.

It had housed some two million books, old scripts, photographs and transcripts before it was shelled by Serb forces who kept Sarajevo under a three-and-a-half-year long siege.

Only some 10 per cent of its resources were saved from the resulting fire.

Reconstruction works, part-financed by the European Union, began in 1996 and the new library was inaugurated in 2014.


Grand Theatre of Geneva in 2012. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In 1951 the Grand Theatre of Geneva in Switzerland, built in the 19th century, was devastated in a fire that began during the preparation for a performance of Richard Wagner's The Valkyrie.

It reopened in 1962.


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