4The Crusaders Melt Down Hundreds of Classical Greek Statues to Make Coins
During the Fourth Crusade in 1204 (not to be confused with the Last Crusade in 1989), an army of crusaders got sidetracked on their way to the Holy Land and wound up sacking the city of Constantinople, despite the fact that Constantinople was pretty emphatically Christian (sort of like if a battalion of American soldiers conquering Sandusky, Ohio, on their way to Iraq). This is because the crusaders were enormous shitheads, quite possibly the biggest of all time, and as such could not be expected to behave like rational human beings.
Constantinople had been the Eastern capital of the Roman Empire for oh, 900 years or so, and consequently the city was full of Greek and Roman art, including hundreds of ancient bronze statues of the gods and heroes of mythology. So the crusaders tore down every single one and melted all of that priceless antiquity to make goddamned coins. Presumably there was an ancient Donkey Kong machine that everybody wanted to play, or they needed exact change for the bus to the Holy Land. Targets of their cash converters party included giant statues of Hera and Helen, a mechanical pyramid that featured moving people and animals and a bronze Hercules the size of a Tyrannosaurus.
You basically destroyed ancient Disneyland. Thanks, dicks.
However, considering that the crusaders were staging an invasion across half of the known world with the explicit purpose of wiping out non-Christians and their culture, preserving metal statues of pagan deities was understandably not very high on their list. Also, bronze was particularly valuable at the time, so those statues were going to be broken apart and repurposed one way or another. Imagine a group of modern soldiers stumbling upon an ancient temple of some forgotten religion loaded with idols made of platinum and diamond -- those things would be dangling from chains and spinning on hubcaps by the end of the day.
We're not saying that the destruction was any less tragic or stupid -- we're just saying that, considering the circumstances, it was pretty much inevitable.
"We're here to wreck shit and spread the word of God. And we're all out of word."
3Saudi Arabia Destroys Muslim Holy Sites to Build Hotels for Muslim Pilgrims
The number of Muslims making the annual hajj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia has increased drastically over the past several years to a current annual total of over 3 million people, and they all have to stay somewhere. Deftly rising to the challenge of accommodating them, Saudi Arabian developers demolished pretty much the entire city to make room for hotels, a solution they found in a book of paradoxes they mistook for an encyclopedic collection of the best ideas ever conceived.
This is page one.
That photo above is the Royal Mecca Clock Tower, the tallest hotel/luxury apartment complex in the world, which looms over the Kaaba (the holy stone in Mecca that Muslims face during prayer) like a Las Vegas casino. About 95 percent of Mecca's buildings, most at least a thousand years old, have been destroyed over the past two decades in order to "modernize" the city and make room for increased pilgrim traffic.
This included the construction of the Clock Tower, which sits on a stack of shopping malls atop the blasted ruins of an 18th century Ottoman fortress, because nothing says "holy city" like a multi-towered Disneyland castle we expect Aerosmith to zipline down from at any moment. When the systematic annihilation of national antiquities is enough to make a prominent Saudi historian literally say "No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism," chances are it's pretty offensive.
The top is a religious holy city. The bottom is Vegas.
Much of the problem stems from the official religion of Saudi Arabia, which is a strict interpretation of Islam that considers relics and historically significant religious structures to be forms of idolatry. Consequently, the kingdom doesn't need much of an excuse to go around smashing ancient mosques and Islamic landmarks, and since money is the best excuse in the world, they are leveling anything and everything they can in exchange for development capital and pilgrimage revenue.
Among the things that have been demolished to make space for the people coming to see the things that are being demolished was the house of Muhammad's wife Khadijah, which was torn down and replaced by a public toilet, and the house of the first caliph (the first successor of Muhammad), which is now a luxury Hilton (incidentally the namesake of the most famous public toilet in history).