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Ancient temples in Bagan, Myanmar. Source: Kalyakan / Adobe Stock.

Myanmar’s Bagan Temple City Faces Modern Threats (Video)


Myanmar's ancient temple city, Bagan, with its mesmerizing array of over 3,000 temples, stands as a testament to its rich history dating back to the 11th and 13th centuries. However, amidst this architectural marvel lies a modern peril. A massive earthquake in 1975 led to extensive reconstruction efforts, with some new temples deviating significantly from their ancient counterparts. The situation worsened in recent years, with numerous new constructions springing up, drawing criticism for their stark contrast to the historical landscape. Foreign experts were once involved in restoration efforts, but their involvement dwindled due to political reasons. Instead, a large-scale renovation project commenced, with nearly 2,000 temples rebuilt without adhering to the original designs, arousing accusations of diminishing the sanctity of this sacred site.

The country's ambition to secure UNESCO's World Heritage status for Bagan further complicates matters, as historians fear it could endorse subpar restoration work. The challenge lies not in proving the outstanding universal value of Bagan but rather in effectively managing and safeguarding the site amidst Myanmar's increasing openness to tourists. Preserving the remnants of this once vital 12th-century city becomes an ongoing battle, balancing the spiritual reverence of worshipers and the scrutiny of historians.

Top image: Ancient temples in Bagan, Myanmar. Source: Kalyakan / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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