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Ruined endangered Unesco sites from Palmyra to Jerusalem are practically rebuilt before your very eyes


Standby, we take you back in time.

Architects and engineers have used digital wizardry to show what several endangered Unesco sites would have looked like had they been fully preserved – to highlight their importance and underscore their majesty.

Scroll down to see the incredible digital remodeling, from the spectacular ancient Syrian city of Palmyra to the holy old city of Jerusalem …

The old city of Jerusalem and its walls

The old city of Jerusalem measures only one square kilometer and is surrounded by walls that date mainly from the 16th century

The digital wizardry employed here shows us what the southeast corner of the old city of Jerusalem would have looked like during the time of Jesus

The digital wizardry employed here shows us what the southeast corner of the old city of Jerusalem would have looked like during the time of Jesus

The digital wizardry used here shows us what the southeast corner of the old city of Jerusalem would have looked like during the time of Jesus – when the most spectacular version of the Second Temple stood there.

It was built on the orders of King Herod, an epic renovation of his predecessor (dating back to 516 BC) that began around 20 BC. Began and was not completed until around AD 62 to 64. The local population did not have much time to admire Her Majesty, however, as a Roman army under the command of the future Emperor Titus destroyed her in AD 70.

Today, the area where the Second Temple – the Temple Mount – once lived is home to the beautiful Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, because it is here that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.

All that remains of the second temple is the Western Wall – the holiest site in Judaism, the place closest to the former Blessed Sacrament, the inner sanctuary of the temple where the Ark of the Covenant is said to have been kept.

The Old City and its walls, which stretch over 2.5 miles and mostly date back to the 16th century when Jerusalem was under Turkish rule, have been on Unesco's list of "in danger" since 1982, followed by severe destruction rapid urbanization ".

Hatra – Iraq

The ruins of the Temple of Mrn in the ancient fortified city of Hatra in what is now Iraq

The ruins of the Temple of Mrn in the ancient fortified city of Hatra in what is now Iraq

The temple has been digitally restored by a team of architects and engineers. Hatra was known for its multitude of temples

The temple has been digitally restored by a team of architects and engineers. Hatra was known for its multitude of temples

Hatra was a large fortified city, the capital of the first Arab kingdom, built between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD in what is now Iraq.

Its inner and outer walls were nearly four miles in circumference and it was known as the "House of God" because of its temple complex, which covered approximately three acres. The Mrn Temple was digitally reconstructed here.

The city of Hatra was founded in 241 BC. Destroyed and its ruins were not discovered until the 19th century. It was classified as a site at risk by Unesco in 2015 after ISIS destroyed some of its sculptures with sledgehammers and machine guns. The militant group carried out a shocking propaganda campaign in which they destroyed ancient relics that they claimed had promoted idolatry which violated their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.

Nan Madol – Micronesia

The ancient city of Nan Madol, now pictured. It is a series of more than 100 man-made islands stretching over 200 acres off the southeast coast of Pohnpei Island in Micronesia

The ancient city of Nan Madol, now pictured. It is a series of more than 100 man-made islands stretching over 200 acres off the southeast coast of Pohnpei Island in Micronesia

How Nan Madol could have looked if it had been preserved. The site is in danger of being lost due to silt (water polluted by silt) and uncontrolled growth of mangroves

How Nan Madol could have looked if it had been preserved. The site is in danger of being lost due to silt (water polluted by silt) and uncontrolled growth of mangroves

The ancient city of Nan Madol is made up of a series of more than 100 man-made islands stretching over 200 acres in a lagoon off the southeast coast of the Micronesian island of Pohnpei.

They were made from blocks of basalt and coral, with most of the construction taking place between the 13th and 16th centuries. The islands housed temples, tombs, stone palaces and apartment buildings and were connected by canals. According to Unesco, the ruins represent "the ceremonial center of the Saudeleur dynasty, a living time in the culture of the Pacific Islands".

However, the site is prone to the effects of the weather and is on Unesco's list of hazards due to the silting up of the waterways (when the water is polluted by silt) and the uncontrolled growth of the mangroves.

Fortifications of Portobelo-San Lorenzo – Panama

The Portobelo and San Lorenzo fortifications were built in Panama in the 17th and 18th centuries. Fort San Lorenzo is shown

The Portobelo and San Lorenzo fortifications were built in Panama in the 17th and 18th centuries. Fort San Lorenzo is shown

The fortifications were built by the Spanish Empire to protect transatlantic trade. This is what Fort San Lorenzo could have looked like if it had been preserved

The fortifications were built by the Spanish Empire to protect transatlantic trade. This is what Fort San Lorenzo could have looked like if it had been preserved

The Portobelo and San Lorenzo fortifications were built in the 17th and 18th centuries on the Caribbean coast of the Colón province in Panama.

They were built by the Spanish Empire to protect transatlantic trade and are described by Unesco as "great examples of 17th and 18th century military architecture". Pictured above is Fort San Lorenzo.

The fortifications have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, which is at risk due to “environmental factors, poor maintenance and uncontrollable urban development”.

Leptis Magna – Libya

The ruins of the impressive theater that is located in the ancient city of Leptis Magna in what is now Libya

The ruins of the impressive theater that is located in the ancient city of Leptis Magna in what is now Libya

How the theater could have looked if it had been preserved. The ruins are at risk of damage due to instability in Libya and environmental factors

How the theater could have looked if it had been preserved. The ruins are at risk of damage due to instability in Libya and environmental factors

Leptis Magna was a major city built in the 7th century in what is now Libya and expanded by Septimius Severus – a native city resident – after he was crowned Roman Emperor in 193 AD. He turned it into one of the most beautiful cities of the Roman Empire, which Unesco describes.

One of the city's most impressive features was the theater, the oldest in Roman Africa, funded by wealthy aristocrats. It was dug into a low hill and had five steps, a colonnaded walk at the top, gardens and a temple. And here you can see what a stunning building it used to be.

It was placed on Unesco's list of hazards in 2016 due to environmental problems and the risk of damage from instability in Libya.

Palmyra – Syria

What the ruins of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra looked like before they were captured in 2015 by ISIS militants who set out to destroy them

What the ruins of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra looked like before they were captured in 2015 by ISIS militants who set out to destroy them

The Temple of Bel after a digital overhaul. Emergency work is being carried out to rebuild the monument

The Temple of Bel after a digital overhaul. Emergency work is being carried out to rebuild the monument

Palmyra, an oasis in the Syrian desert north of Damascus, is called "one of the most important cultural centers of antiquity" by Unesco because of its art and architecture, which "combined Greco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences". .

The Temple of Bel was built in the first century and is located in a large area lined with porticoes. It was surrounded by a 205 meter long outer wall with a Propylaea – a monumental gate in the Greek style. The ruins were considered to be the best preserved in Palmyra.

However, the previous picture here shows what the temple looked like before it was captured by ISIS fighters in 2015, who destroyed it, leaving only a pillar and an archway. Emergency work is being carried out to rebuild the monument, and this reconstruction shows why the effort is worth it.

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