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04/19/2013

Europe's most endangered historic sites need urgent help

The Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, London's Tower Bridge and the Louvre in Paris are some of Europe's most fabled heritage sites. Travelling across the continent you'd think the Europeans had no difficulty preserving and promoting their historic monuments which are recognized the world over. For the most part that's true. But there are plenty of places that are falling down and need urgent help.

Europa Nostra, the heritage organization, has come up with a list of 14 most endangered monuments and sites -- ranging from churches to gaslights -- that need quick action. 

In June, the list of 14 will be whittled down to a final seven at Europa Nostra's congress in Athens. A team of heritage specialists and technical experts will put together a rescue plan for the seven sites. Financial experts from the European Investment Bank Group will help come up with a strategy to raise money for the restorations. Not an easy task in these cash-strapped times.

Here is a selection of the 14 most endangered:

St. Paul and Peter Church, Armenia. The church dates back to the 5th century and is one of the first Christian structures. It is damaged because of regular flooding. 

Armenia church 1
Photo courtesy of Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia

Berlin's gas lights were installed 200 years ago and still work perfectly fine.  A plan to replace them with modern electric version is opposed by residents and tourists who love the romance of the old-fashioned street lights.

Berlin's gaslight street 2
Photo courtesy: Bertold Kujath – Gaslicht-Kultur e.V.

This 2nd century Roman amphitheatre was discovered in the 1960s in Durres, Albania. It is threatened by urban sprawl. 

Roman amphitheature Albania 3
Photo courtesy of the Association for the Development of Cultural Tourism, Tirana, Albania

Conservationists from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have come together on the divided island to put together a joint plan to save a 1.5 kilometre historic buffer zone in Nicosia's centre which has been badly neglected. 

Nicosia corridor 4
Photo courtesy of Cyprus Architectural Heritage Organization

These 17th century fortifications designed to protect the city in the beautiful mountains of Briancon, France are decaying.   

France fortifications 5
Photo courtesy of Europa Nostra France

See the full list of 14 candidates

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at the Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour

Comments

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Thank you for sharing these incredible glimpses into the past. It will be a shame if these ancient structures disappear, because they shed a glimmer on our distant past. Glad to hear that people are co-operating to preserve some of them.

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