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In January, word came out of China that a new coronavirus known as COVID-19 was ravaging the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province. In just a matter of weeks, the virus spread around the globe, shutting down entire nations in its path. And that meant the halt of travelers to popular tourist destinations around the globe.
As of March 13, coronavirus cases topped 125,000, though medical professionals warned that number could be much, much higher. In response, the World Health Organization named it as a global pandemic, the U.S. State Department issued a global level 3 travel warning urging people to reconsider any international travel, and the entire nation of Italy shut its borders down.
But that’s not all. Places like the Louvre in Paris shut down until further notice, Disneyland announced it would close until the end of March, and Broadway shuttered its doors, an unprecedented move only occurring a handful of times throughout history.
However, it’s important to remember, this is all for the common good. After all, the only way to get through this is together, each doing our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.
And, because of this slower flow of tourism, we are getting a glimpse of what popular destinations look like without the crowds. Until the sites reopen, do a little virtual tourism by checking out museums with digital experiences and live streaming operas. Then, start planning your next vacation in your head for later this year to see them all in person for yourself.
The Louvre — Paris, France
A sole visitor stands outside the deserted courtyard of the Louvre Pyramid, which marks the main entrance to the museum. The Louvre will remain closed until further notice.
Piazza Navona — Rome, Italy
The once bustling Italian restaurants in Piazza Navona, located in the historic center of Rome, sit nearly empty now as the entire nation sits under quarantine.
Grand Mosque — Mecca, Saudi Arabia
The Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque sits completely empty in a sign of just how seriously tourists are taking the coronavirus. Despite being Islam's holiest site, healthy measures now dictate no one can touch the Kaaba.
Wat Arun — Bangkok, Thailand
The tourist boats at the Wat Arun in Bangkok have turned into ghost ships with the spread of coronavirus. The tourism industry here has been hit particularly hard as the majority of visitors typically hail from China.
Western Wall — Jerusalem, Israel
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walking past people praying at the nearly deserted Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, shows off the latest coronavirus trend: plastic hat coverings. Israel imposed a two-week quarantine on all travelers entering the country, nearly stopping tourism altogether.
Pariser Platz — Berlin, Germany
The Pariser Platz at the Brandenburg Gate, a typically busy tourist destination, sits alone in mid-March. Though this shouldn’t be surprising considering the government has asked citizens to stay home and avoid public gatherings.
Spanish Steps — Rome, Italy
The wildly popular Spanish Steps by the Trinita dei Monti church in central Rome sat completely empty on March 12, 2020. In response to the spread, Italy shut all stores except for pharmacies and food shops, along with its national quarantine.
Trevi Fountain — Rome, Italy
The spread of the coronavirus meant the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy sat empty on March 12, 2020. The Italian government has forbidden personal movement, making scenes like this all the more likely.
Roman Forum — Rome, Italy
Due to the Italian government’s mandate to restrict personal movement, the ancient Roman Forum ruins and the Colosseum sit without a single tourist in sight.
Gyeongbokgung Palace — Seoul, South Korea
Two visitors walk through the courtyard of Gyeongbokgung Palace in central Seoul wearing face masks on March 6, 2020. The site typically welcomes thousands of visitors a day, but sits nearly empty amid the global health crisis.
Tokyo Cherry Blossoms — Tokyo, Japan
A woman dons a protective face mask while walking under the stunning cherry blossoms in Tokyo on March 4, a sight that typically brings in thousands of visitors to the city, but will now be enjoyed only by the few.
Angkor Wat — Siem Reap, Cambodia
An aerial view of Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap province shows an unprecedented sight: The entire temple empty. According to the head of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the spread of COVID-19 could cost world tourism at least $22 billion.
Luxor Temple — Luxor, Egypt
A lone municipality worker cleans lamp posts outside the Luxor Temple in Egypt. Due to the coronavirus tourism has dropped drastically to the region.
Wat Chedi Luang — Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai sits alone, save for a few monks strolling in the courtyard. The temple, built in 1441, has weathered it all, and will soon be a tourism hot spot once general tourism can resume.
Dome of the Rock — Jerusalem, Israel
Just a smattering of tourists and pilgrims can be seen outside the Dome of the Rock mosque at the Al-Aqsa mosques compound in the Old City of Jerusalem.