Smithsonian’s cataloging their top 15 historic/artistic sights on the verge of a total breakdown, including sights ranging from the incredibly long (Route 66, U.S.A.) to the incredibly old (Jaisalmer Fort, India). Other sights that make the list include the Port City of Coro, Venezuela; the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem; and the Xumishan Grottoes, China.
The Xumishan Grottoes, consisting of over 130 grottoes spread out along a mile of “starkly beautiful, arid terrain” near the Silk Route from India to China, served as one of the focal points for the spread of Buddhism and is towered over by a 65-foot Tang dynasty Buddha. Unfortunately, a deadly combination of wind, sand erosion, water damage, earthquakes and vibrations from a nearby modern roadway have severely damaged the site. Let’s give it some credit though, how many delicate attractions can take that kind of punishment year after year without totally crumbling? Add in a few hundred-thousand tourists a year clomping around its grounds and I’m surprised the site hasn’t been reduced to a pile of sand. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, huh?
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