It may not be surprising to know that some of the world’s greatest cities are located on rivers and coastlines. However, with rising sea levels, many of these iconic locales are in grave danger of being submerged — perhaps by the end of this century. Nevertheless, five cities stand out as destinations tourists must see before these places vanish underneath the floodwaters forever.
1. Venice, Italy
This northern Italian city famed for its canals and singing gondoliers has been sinking at a rate of 2 millimeters per year, which may jeopardize its future. Fortunately, work is in progress on a €5.496-billion flood barrier around the Venetian Lagoon, protecting such landmarks as the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica for the time being. Tourists should enjoy the view from the top of St. Mark’s Campanile, or bell tower, before admiring the paintings at the Gallerie dell’Accademia art museum. Cinema lovers should visit in late summer for the Venice Film Festival, scheduled for August 30 to September 9 this year.
© Andrés Nieto Porras
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Located below sea level, the Dutch capital is predicted to become a European Atlantis within the next century and a half. In the meantime, though, tourists should visit the Rembrandt House, where the famed painter lived, and admire Van Gogh’s best works in the museum named after him. Hortus Botanicus, the city’s botanical garden, showcases flora ranging from a 2,000-year-old cactus to insect-eating carnivorous plants. For those who prefer a cold one with their sightseeing, a visit to the Heineken Brewery is a must.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
Colloquially referred to as the Big Easy, New Orleans lies at the heart of the Mississippi Delta, a region in which 70 percent of residents live in areas that may be submerged by 2100. Nevertheless, there is still time to visit the city’s premier attractions. Frenchmen Street, a popular local hangout, is home to live music venues, bars, nightclubs and art galleries. Visit the Frenchmen Art Market for locally crafted art and jewelry. Of course, no New Orleans trip would be complete without visiting the French Quarter and stopping for beignets at Café du Monde. For a more offbeat experience, tour the Degas House, the only residence of legendary painter Edgar Degas open to the public.
© Eric Gross
4. Shanghai, China
Shanghai is on China’s east coast, where 76 percent of residents live in areas that may be underwater by the turn of the 22nd century. Regardless, the city boasts a plethora of attractions such as Longhua Temple. This ancient structure boasts many ornate sculptures, including 500 gold-plated Buddhas in a single room. Shanghai Ocean Aquarium is home to a treasure trove of aquatic life, including rare freshwater fish native to China’s Yangtze River. Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower’s revolving restaurant is a great place for dinner with a view, 263-meters above downtown.
© Carlos Adampol Galindo
5. Bangkok, Thailand
Thailand’s capital sits on the Chao Phraya River and may vanish by 2030 if sea levels rise at their current rate. No trip to Bangkok would complete without a visit to the Grand Palace, home to Thai kings from 1782 to 1925 and an impressive monument to the country’s rich history. Visit Wat Phra Kaew Temple to admire the 15th-century Emerald Buddha, meticulously carved from a single block of jade, before heading to the floating markets of Damnoen Saduak. History lovers will enjoy the train excursion to the Bridge on the River Kwai, which inspired the film of the same name. Of course, Bangkok’s street food is a must, especially such delicacies as steamed crab and mango sticky rice. It is not to be missed.
© Bernard Spragg NZ