Many building projects throughout history seem to have been economically ill-advised. For instance, Wikipedia identifies the construction of the Dolmabahçe Palace as one of the factors contributing to the downfall of the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, the palace now earns the state income as a tourist attraction.

Acknowledging that any answer will rely on estimates and uncertainty with exchange rates: are there any ancient building projects that have paid for themselves (in the long-run) by creating tourist attractions?

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    Göbleki Tepe? Machu Picchu? Pyramids? Jerusalem? Berlin Wall? Stonehenge? The thing is "long run" makes the list really endless. – LаngLаngС Jan 18 at 9:37
  • @LangLangC So even if there were a single example, it'd be interesting to know. – adam.baker Jan 18 at 11:14
  • @TomasBy Yes that's certainly correct; I think the question about ancient monuments and contemporary tourism implies that there will be discontinuity in governments; I wouldn't want to exclude everything in France before 1958 for instance. :-) – adam.baker Jan 18 at 11:14
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    From the modern state's perspective it's all profit, yes, because they didn't spend the money. The question is whether, e.g., the original cost of Versailles (in gold, or person-hours, or whatever) has been exceeded by the tourist revenue from the site. – adam.baker Jan 18 at 11:48
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    You should update the question instead of replying in comments, and it seems "recoup costs" and "economically ill-advised" is not actually what you mean, then. – Tomas By Jan 18 at 12:33

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