Around the World

Before and After Photos Show How Empty These Once-Bustling Places Are Now That Everyone Is Staying Home

Usually, planet Earth is a bustling place. Rain or shine, some of the world’s most iconic locations are always an ocean of activity. But following the global health crisis, i.e. the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of these famous and usually-busy places are empty. This is because of the social-distancing measures taken by governments to help fight the spread of the virus.

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Image: ABC

The idea is simple. Big crowds equal increased chances of transmission. Thus limiting the hustle and bustle in these popular locations has the potential to be effective. The global situation is not easy, but we will get through it. Experts around the world are working hard to fight back, and they’re doing a great job. Earth’s citizens are cooperating and coordinating on unprecedented levels. So hang tight and everything will be ok!

Ginza, Tokyo – Before

The bustling street seen in this photograph is located in the Ginza district in Tokyo, Japan. Back in the day, before Japan became totally modernized, the area was literally a swamp. Now, it’s an upscale shopping area that is renowned for its coffee shops, retailers, boutiques, and fancy restaurants.

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Image: Times of India

The streets at the heart of the district are considered some of the most upscale and luxurious in the entire world. Before the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed the globe, the streets in Ginza were constantly bustling with restaurant-goers and shoppers looking to spend some cash and get themselves some nice clothes.

Ginza – Now

These days, the streets of Ginza are pretty empty. If you happen to be there now, you can still enjoy some delicious eats from the restaurants if you do take-away. And most of the retailers there have online shopping options, so if you really want a shopping spree, you can take your urge online.

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Image: The Atlantic

Like a vast number of other countries in the developed world, Japan has been taking increasingly strict measures to reduce social contact, such as closing schools, restricting medium to large gatherings, and limiting inbound travel. We’re sure that when all returns to normal, the streets of Ginza will be bustling with life once again.

The Louvre, Paris – Before

When this mess is over, the Louvre Museum is definitely one of the destinations that will be awarded a spot on the bucket list. Deep within the beating heart of Paris, or “the city of romance”, the museum stands – a glass pyramid perched against the sky and surrounded in a courtyard of beautiful Parisian buildings.

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Image: Reddit / Knowoflookperser

It was originally a castle, built in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1546 it lost its defensive functions. It became the residence of a few kings in the subsequent centuries, and these days it is one of the biggest, and best museums in the world. Last year, it had almost 10 million visitors. And it’s home to some of the world’s finest art, including the Mona Lisa.

The Louvre – Now

Many of the world’s favorite cultural centers have closed their doors in a widespread effort to contain the virus outbreak. The Louvre was among the first. It feels like just yesterday that its buzzing courtyard and ancient halls were awash with wide-eyed tourists experiencing some of humanity’s gems.
Now, its premises are void of all hustle and bustle.

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Image: CNN International

France is among the most infected countries in Europe and is now is a complete shutdown, where all non-essential outings and travel have ceased. Thankfully, Google has partnered up with over with 500 cultural centers, including the Louvre, to give art enthusiasts the chance to browse collections and walk through the museum’s halls using Street View. Amazing!

The Oculus, New York City – Before

The Oculus, also known as the World Trade Center station is a transportation hub in the center of New York City. It’s located where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Following the recovery from the September 11 attacks, a temporary station was built and construction of the permanent station started in 2008.

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Image: Loving New York

It is a central point in the NYC subway network, enabling lines to connect and travelers to converge on the city’s downtown. Tens of thousands of people pass through the Oculus every day. The indoor terminal features some cool futurist architecture, including a tall white metallic ceiling which gives commuters the feel that they’re are inside some kind of robotic ribcage.

The Oculus, New York City – Now

New York is among the most affected states in the U.S., along with New Jersey and California. Residents, especially in the urban centers, face a host of restrictions on travel and activity carried out in public. The government urges people to limit their gatherings to no more than 10.

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Image: The Atlantic

As travel restrictions become increasingly strict, public transport infrastructure becomes empty. The Oculus is no exception. Its usually-teeming halls are now breeding grounds for loud echoes. The NYC public transportation system is still operational in some capacity, but the Oculus is mostly devoid of tourists and commuters. NYC is holding tight but we can’t wait for things to get back to normal!

The Kaaba, Mecca – Before

The Kaaba, located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is a building at the heart of the Grand Mosque, the holiest site in Islam. Every year, between two and three million worshippers make the Hajj; a pilgrimage to Mecca. According to Islamic tradition, every Muslim who is physically capable is required to make the trip at least once. The origins of the Kaaba are the subject of some heated debate among scholars of history and religion.

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Image: Khabari

They argue about who built the Kaaba, about when it was built, and why. One thing is for sure: over the centuries, it has been constructed, torn down, modified, and rebuilt several times. But after some years of regional conflict, in the 20th century, the House of Saud, or the Saudi Monarchy assumed control of the holy site, and they have been the caretakers ever since.

The Kaaba, Mecca – Now

In normal times, the plaza of the mosque is packed with people, ballading around the structure at the center, but now the place is a ghost town. This year, the Saudi government was forced to put a halt to the pilgrimage as one of the measures taken to help combat the spread of the virus. Thankfully, everyone is cooperating and hopefully it will have a drastic effect.

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Image: CNN Arabic

Saudi Arabia is among the world’s countries that have a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases. In general, the way in which the country’s legal and political systems are structured puts Saudi Arabia in a particularly advantageous position for implementing heavy-handed measures aimed at restricting social contact.

Piazza San Marco, Venice – Before

Piazza San Marco, or sometimes known in English as St. Mark’s Square, is located in Venice, Italy. Throughout the city’s history, and still today, the square has been the region’s religious and political center. Construction projects there date back as far as the year 800! This place has some serious history.

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Image: Hotels.com

Venice attracts over 25 million tourists every year, and the Piazza is usually on their must-see list. Like the rest of the city, the architecture in the Piazza is unique and beautiful. The center of the square has a huge open space, flanked by St. Mark’s Basilica and the tower, called St. Mark’s Campanile.

Piazza San Marco, Venice – Now

Whereas the square and surrounding buildings of Piazza San Marco are usually full of tourists from around the globe, following the outbreak, they’re quiet. Italy is now considered the epicenter of the outbreak, and times there are not easy. The country is on total lockdown and any non-essential travel or outing is prohibited. But the government is taking lots of measures to contain and mitigate the outbreak as much as possible.

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Image: City A.M.

Due to the government’s current diligence and the widespread cooperation of the citizens, people in Italy are not losing hope during their lockdown confinement. Just a couple of weeks ago, videos emerged of Italians taking to their balconies and breaking out into song and dance together. Moments like this are important and help reduce cabin fever. Hang in there dear Italians.

Smart & Final Grocery Chain, California – Before

Smart & Final is a warehouse-style grocery and supply chain that is originally based out of Commerce, California. It was founded back in 1871 in Los Angeles. It’s a real one-stop-shop and you can pretty much get anything there. In the last couple of decades, the chain has been doing extremely well and has since expanded to other states.

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Image: Justdial

After opening branches in Colorado and Arizona, the chain continues to make its mark in the U.S. Although it has since made cutbacks in Denver, business is still booming, One of the chain’s specialties is the smooth shopping portal it provides, enabling customers to create shopping lists, see deals, and stay on top of their grocery needs.

Smart & Final Grocery Chain, California – Now

As the crisis evolves, one thing we should make clear is this: there have been no reports, by experts or laymen, of food or supply shortages. Following news that things were heating up, shoppers cleared out many Smart & Final Chains. But even Wuhan, in the midst of its outbreak, had no problems with food or other essentials. Grocery stores are fully stocked and there is toilet paper available for all.

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Image: CNN International

But as expected when a crisis occurs, there is also no shortage of panic buying. In some stores, anxious buyers descended on markets and proceeded to hoard supplies. We get that people are nervous, but there’s really no need to hoard. Now, people around the world realize that supplies won’t run out any time soon, and grocery shelves are being replenished. Still, who would have thought that we would get photos like these?

San Siro, Milan – Before

Italians love life, it’s no wonder they are connoisseurs of wine, pizza, coffee, and of course, soccer (or football). San Siro is a massive football stadium in the San Siro district of Milan, Italy. It’s considered a UEFA category 4 stadium, meaning it has the honor of hosting European Cup games, and even World Cup games. It hosted World Cup games in 1934 and 1990.

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Image: Juventus.com

We know these days it’s a little hard to think about things in a normal context, but we’ll note that the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan will be hosted in San Siro. Other than soccer, San Siro has also hosted events in rugby, boxing, concerts, and more cultural gatherings that we miss dearly.

San Siro, Milan – Now

The world and its pandemic experts are now considering Italy to be ‘the new China’, meaning that it’s the virus’s current hot spot. Since Italy is now deemed the most heavily-affected nation on the planet, the government has been taking drastic measures to contain and mitigate.

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Image: The Atlantic

And with so many measures aimed at limiting social contact, eery photos like this one are bound to surface. This was taken just days before a decision to suspend all domestic sports was made. Before that decision, sports were still going on and San Siro was still operational, albeit with no crowds. If you’re in Italy and you really have a soccer craving, have no fear! You can easily fire up a gaming console and enjoy a quick match of FIFA.

Sensō-Ji, Tokyo – Before

Virus or no virus, Sensō-Ji is an absolutely stunning place. It’s an ancient Buddhist temple, located in Tokyo, Japan. It has a colorful and long history, dating back to the year 941. Originally, it was located somewhere else, but in 1635, it was moved to its current spot and reconstructed. The temple is a major cultural hub.

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Image: MAPPLE

Sensō-Ji is home to Tokyo’s biggest festival; Sanja Matsuri. It’s one of the most popular destinations in East Asia, as evidenced by the more than 30 million annual visitors. We don’t blame everyone for wanting to go. The classical Japanese architecture is breathtaking. Under normal circumstances, rain or shine, day and night, Sensō-Ji’s main avenue is a vibrant, interesting cultural hotspot, astir with life and joy.

Sensō-Ji, Tokyo – Now

Today Sensō-Ji is completely desolate. Japan was one of the earliest countries on which the novel coronavirus descended, and it has fairly strict measures in place aimed at reducing travel and social contact. Today the area oddly resembles old pictures or paintings of China’s Forbidden City, back when commoners were not allowed to enter and the grounds were empty.

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Image: Times of India

Although it’s not easy (unless you are a natural-born couch potato), citizens of Japan are adhering to the restrictions and refraining from congregating at Sensō-Ji and elsewhere. Entrance to the temple has been suspended for now, and events scheduled there for the immediate future have been canceled or postponed. We wish our Japanese brothers and sisters the best and we hope to visit their beautiful country one day.

Trafalgar Square, London – Before

Trafalgar Square is one of the U.K.’s most popular tourist destination, located in the heart of London. Walk around there and you for sure get some authentic London vibes. Red double-decker buses cruising around the adjacent streets, locals doing some shopping, and tourists taking selfies.

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Image: Official London Theatre

Development of the site started in the early 1800s and progressed slowly but surely throughout the following decades. Statues were added incrementally and the square started to resemble what it is today. Trafalgar Square is named after the Trafalgar naval battle that was fought between the British and the French and Spanish during the Napoleanic Wars.

Trafalgar Square, London – Now

Nowadays, like the popular tourist destinations in most other countries, London’s Trafalgar Square is vacant. Well, unless you count the pigeons, for whom the Square is still a bustling metropolis. Britain is among the most heavily affected countries in Europe, but the government is being diligent and making copious efforts to implement social distancing. We can’t wait to start seeing results.

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Image: The Independent

Britain, like most other countries, urges people showing flu-like symptoms to stay home and contact health services if they have a fever over 100.4 degrees. London, known for its extensive and busy underground lines, has fallen relatively quiet, with most people staying indoors.

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo – Before

The Tokyo Dome was completed in 1988. It’s located in the heart of Tokyo, Japan, and it hosts some of the region’s biggest sporting events. Originally, it was called “The Big Egg” or “Tokyo’s Big Egg.” But as the years went by, these more colorful names were dropped and its current name was adopted.

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Image: Chicago Sun-Times

The Tokyo Dome was actually the first Japanese venue to host an American football event, with over 50,000 people in attendance. It’s home to the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, but ball sports are not the only events that happen there. The Big Egg (yes, we prefer the old name) also hosts many other cultural events, such as boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and concerts.

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo – Now

As of a couple of weeks ago, Japan remains optimistic when it comes to sports. After all, the country is still planning on hosting the Olympics, but the event has been postponed to 2010. We can’t wait for the world to succeed in subduing the coronavirus so that we can once again come together as a global sporting community.

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Image: MSN

The photograph seen here shows a baseball game happening at the Tokyo Dome while the stands are devoid of spectators. Some sports activity is still going on, but the Japanese government announced that it will postpone the start of its professional baseball tournament, for now. So we can expect the Dome to be empty for a little while longer.

The Western Wall, Jerusalem – Before

The Western Wall or Wailing Wall, located in Jerusalem, Israel, is the holiest site in the world for members of the Jewish faith. It is the final remaining structure of the temple that was built in ancient Israel but ultimately destroyed in the year 70 AD, during the Roman occupation.

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Image: The Times of Israel

In the last few hundred years, a cool tradition has emerged there. Worshippers visiting the Wall write down a little prayer on a piece of paper and squeeze it into the Wall’s crevices. According to Israeli statistics, during normal times, over 100,000 people visit the ancient archeological site every single day!

The Western Wall, Jerusalem – Now

Due to its geopolitical circumstances and turbulent history, Israel is always cautious when it comes to crises. As of today, Israel has under 7000 confirmed cases, which is vastly less than other countries of comparable size. The country is not in complete lockdown, but at least 80% of businesses are shut down or operating remotely.

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Image: The Forward

In Jerusalem, the virus is more prominent than other parts of the country, so social distancing measures are much stricter. On the bright side, Israel is still one of the global kings of tasty food, and most restaurants quickly got with the times and started to offer delivery services. So if you’re there, don’t let lockdowns stop you from grabbing a delicious falafel or shawarma!

St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City – Before

St. Peter’s Square is located right in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City, the world’s papal enclave. According to Catholic tradition, St. Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ and he was considered the first pope. The Vatican is a cool place. Contrary to what some people think, it’s actually considered an independent country – the smallest in the world.

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Image: Trip.com

According to most credible surveys, St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding structures usually welcome between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors every day, totaling around 10 million per year! The Vatican is and always has been, the home of the Pope and the papacy. Famously, the Pope goes out on a balcony overlooking the Square to make speeches and address followers and multitudes of tourists and devotees.

St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City – Now

When the Pope is scheduled to make a public address, St. Peter’s square is jam-packed with attendees. Multiple thousands of people pack into the square to hear His Holiness’s announcements. But since the outbreak of the virus and its subsequent spreading in the region, St. Peter’s Square has been closed to tourists. As of now, The Vatican, like the test of the immediate region, is on total lockdown, and its plazas are completely empty.

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Image: The Atlantic

It’s a little creepy seeing booming places like this one being devoid of all human activity, some say it’s even a little dystopic. We agree, but during these tough times, it’s important to note that even though the virus is having some big consequences, we will prevail and beat this thing! We all eagerly await that day, which isn’t too far in the future.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney – Before

When you think of Sydney, Australia, one of the first things that come to most people’s minds is the iconic Sydney Opera House. Even those who have yet to travel to the land down under can recognize the building from its towering white structure and unique design.

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Image: Time Out

The Sydney Oprah house first opened in 1973 and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. It hosts over 1,5000 performances every year and the site is visited by around eight million people annually. In addition to the Oprah House, the Circular Quay neighborhood where it sits is also a popular area for tourism, restaurants, and shopping.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney – Now

What was once one of the most visited areas in Sydney now sits silent, empty of tourists or local pedestrians. The Opera House has closed its doors to all visitors and has canceled major events, some previously scheduled for well into the summer. We are glad to hear that they are taking those necessary precautions.

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Image: Reuters

While visual and performing art enthusiasts may not be able to visit the site itself, the Opera House is offering a new digital program. This will include weekly live recordings, never-before-seen footage, podcasts, articles, and other exclusive videos.

The Colosseum, Rome – Before

At its peak, starting back in AD 80, The Colosseum held an average of 65,000 spectators. Back in those days, it was used for gladiatorial contests and other such spectacles that today, thankfully, we only see in movies. In later years it was used as a religious shrine and today still stands as an iconic archeological symbol of Roman history.

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Image: Go City

The Colosseum is by far Rome’s most popular tourist attraction and in 2018, with 7.4 million visitors, it was even named the most popular tourist attraction in the world. Although it is now too ruined to host events of 65,000 plus spectators, the area surrounding the structure is still utilized as a popular event space.

The Colosseum, Rome – Now

As Italy continues to battle the spread of coronavirus, Rome has been forced to close all its tourist hotspots and put the entire city on total lockdown. This has resulted in a rather eerie image of places like The Colosseum which has long grown accustomed to a constant flow of eager tourists and local pedestrians.

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Image: The Sun

As of April 5, Italy has reported 124,632 cases of Coronavirus. This outstanding number has shocked the world and many have speculated as to why Italy has been hit the hardest. Some interesting conclusions include its older population, the smoking culture and local customs such as greeting people with kisses on the cheeks.

Saint Jean de Luz, France – Before

What was originally a rich fishing port on the Basque coast is now a major luxury tourist attraction. Located just a few kilometers from the border with Spain along the Atlantic coastline, Saint Jean de Luz is a beachside resort town once largely appreciated by the French and Spanish aristocracy.

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Image: travelwithmrscolombo.com

Today, it still holds standing as a popular resort area, famous for its architecture, high-end hotels, and clean sandy beaches. Due to its location, Saint Jean de Luz attracts many visitors from both Spain and France and also hosts many cultural and sporting events.

Saint Jean de Luz, France – Now

Since Saint Jean De Luz has for years depended highly on tourism, the halt of travel due to the coronavirus has had a heavy blow on the area. The vibrant beaches once full of life and color, now resemble more of a deserted ghost town than a popular beachside haven.

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Image: Euronews

The area has become increasingly popular for retirees throughout France who choose to settle down there. In other words, Since Saint Jean De Luz is basically the Florida of France. However, as you can imagine, with those over 65 years old at the highest risk, activity in the area has come to a halt and the once-bustling attractions remain empty.

Times Square, New York City – Before

When you think hustle and bustle, one of the first places to come to mind is Times Square in New York City, New York. As one of the busiest pedestrian areas in the world, the popular tourist destination, entertainment center, and commercial intersection normally welcomes over 350,000 people every day and around 130 million annually.

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Image: New York Post

With numbers like that, you won’t be surprised to hear that Times Square is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions. Not only that but it is also the hub for businesses big and small as well as the iconic Broadway Theater District. Known for its brightly lit billboards and ever-crowded streets, Times Square has come to symbolize today’s American dream.

Times Square, New York City – Now

Today with its empty stores and quiet stores, Times Square looks more like a scene from a post-apocalyptic film. This deserted image comes after Major Bill de Blasio’s decision on March 12, to ban gatherings of more than 500 people. On March 22 he took it a step further by closing all non-essential businesses and banned any concentration of individuals outside.

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Image: Business Insider

Now amid the new crowd capacity rules, the streets that once had some of the heaviest foot traffic in all of New York City sits virtually empty. As of Saturday, April 4, there have been at least 114,704 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which is the largest number of confirmed cases in the U.S. 63,000 of those cases are in New York City.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris – Before

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized structures on earth and has long been instilled as an iconic symbol for Paris, the city of romance and lights. As the most-visited paid monument in the world, The Eiffel Tower has welcomed 250 million paid visitors since it was first completed in 1889.

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Image: Viral Rang

Around 250,000 people ascend the tower on a daily bases and many more tourists arrive simply to see the structure from the surrounding plaza. Locals also enjoy the area, often having picnics and other social gatherings as they wait for to tower to light up for five minutes, every hour on the hour.

The Eiffel Tower, Paris – Now

With France is also in coronavirus lockdown and people only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons, the city of Paris has become almost completely deserted. Landmarks such as The Eiffel Tower that are normally swarming with visitors are now left without a human insight.

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Image: AP News

Amidst the crises, The Eiffel Tower is being used to send a glimmer of hope to Parisians by sending a message of thanks and encouragement to stay home. Since March 27 the tower sparkles every night with a message reading “Merci,” which means thank you in French.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome – Before

The Spanish steps of the Piazza di Spagna is situated near the famous Column of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Piazza itself sits at the bottom of the steps, is one of the most famous squares in Italy, and attracts thousands of visitors a day to its gorgeous baroque architecture.

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Image: Mental Floss

The Piazza is also located in a top location in Rome and one of its busiest and most popular locations. As it sits near the high streets Via dei Condotti, Via Frattina, and Via del Babuino, it is surrounded by grand 17th and 18th-century villas. It has become one of the top tourist locations for relaxing and taking in the city.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome – Now

Rome is definitely up there with one of the most drastically different locations around the world. Just take a look at this recently bustling tourist location – there’s barely anyone in sight. We can only spot one gentleman walking in front of the steps from one side to another.

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Image: Reuters

Naturally, tourism has been hit the hardest. It’s no real surprise that such a place should be empty as there aren’t people flying in and out of Italy at the moment. Even though it is expected, it’s shocking to see this location looking so barren. Even the eldest residents of Rome have likely never seen it as quiet as it is today.

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC – Before

The Lincoln Memorial was built in 1922 in honor of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It has since become one of the most prominent American monuments and is utilized as both a frequented tourist attraction and political stomping ground.

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Image: GoUSA

The memorial is open to the public 24 hours a day, welcoming more than seven million annual visitors. Located in the famed National Mall the Lincoln Memorial sits neighboring the Washington Monument and the entrance to the United States Capitol grounds. Overall the park gets around 24 million visitors each year, so you can imagine that it is barely ever empty.

The Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC – Now

Rarely has the Lincoln Memorial ever looked so desolate. The plaza where the memorial sits is normally filled with tourists, however, since new guidelines were set in place on March 17, visitors are staying home and the memorial sits completely empty.

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Image: WGNO

As of Friday, April 3, Washington DC reported that 902 people have tested positive for the virus. With the rapid spread continuing throughout the U.S, District leaders have issued “stay-at-home” orders, mandating residents to stay home unless needing to travel for essential needs such as groceries, pharmaceuticals, medical care, work, and limited exercise.

Venice Canals – Before

Venice is the only city on the planet in which you need a boat in order to get around. There is no such thing as cars or buses! No worries though, the city is streaked with beautiful canals and all of its infrastructure is designed specifically to be accessible by the water. The lovely city is one of the most alive in the world, and its canals are usually full of some of Europe’s busiest commotion.

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Image: The Times & The Sunday Times

It has an incredibly rich history, and it sees tens of millions of visitors a year. During the 18th century, Venice became what some consider the “most culturally refined city in all of Europe.” It had a huge impact on the worlds of architecture, literature, and art. In the last few years, the city has had to deal with flooding which leaves some parts of it underwater. So a little virus bug is nothing this ancient city can’t handle.

Venice Canals – Now

In normal times, the canals of Venice are radiating energy. Throughout its history, the city has been known as merchant capital. These days though, as we hang tight and wait for the world to conquer the novel coronavirus, Venice’s canals are devoid of their usual energy.

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Image: Reuters

Since Italy is one of the most-affected countries, the government was forced to take especially strict measures in order to clear the streets, and in this case, canals. Venice is located in the northern regions of Italy, and as it turns out, the north is the most heavily-affected region in Italy. On the bright side, the waters of the Venice canals have not been this clean in ages.