The tremors on Saturday's devastating earthquake in Nepal lasted barely a minute by some accounts, yet this was enough to bring down centuries of Nepalese history.
At least four out of seven Unesco World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley- three of them ancient city squares - were severely damaged.
Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit told the BBC that the destruction was "culturally speaking an incalculable loss", although he said monuments could be rebuilt.
In Bhaktapur, until now Nepal's best preserved old city, reports say half of all homes have been destroyed and 80% of temples damaged.
Among other buildings to collapse was the Dharahara tower, which once dominated the skyline of the capital Kathmandu but has now been reduced to a stump.
Built by Nepal's first prime minister in 1832, the site, also known as the Bhimsen Tower, was popular among tourists who would climb the more than 200 steps to the viewing deck at the top.
Pictures which appeared soon after the earthquake showed that Kathmandu's Durbar, or noble court, square in the capital's Old City, one of the Unesco sites, had been badly damaged.
The main temple in Bhaktapur's square lost its roof, while the 16th Century Vatsala Durga temple, famous for its sandstone walls and gold-topped pagodas, was demolished by the quake.
Several buildings in Patan's 3rd Century square were destroyed.
The Buddhist temple complex at Swayambhunath, founded in the 5th Century, has also been damaged.
Video footage showed the toppled facade of one of the buildings, with the prayer flags surrounding it still fluttering in the wind.
But the iconic central stupa, with its gazing eyes of the Buddha, still stands.
There have been reports that the Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Hindu temple site were damaged too.
It is unclear whether all of these ancient monuments can, or will, be rebuilt.
Historian Prushottam Lochan Shrestha told the ekantipur.com website: "We have lost most of the monuments that had been designated as World Heritage Sites in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur [Patan].
"They cannot be restored to their original states."
And yet many buildings that were destroyed in the even more devastating 1934 earthquake were reconstructed, including the Dharahara tower.
Source: bbc Photo and video: bbc