25 World Monuments in Danger

December 12, 2017

Armed conflict, climate change, and natural disaster threaten some of humankind's grandest acheivements.

Some of the greatest acheivments of humankind have miraculously escaped the ravages of time, but they remain more susceptible than ever. Across the globe, armed conflict reduces cultural heritage sites to rubble, hurricanes and earthquakes alter the faces of cities, and the rising sea slowly creeps up coastlines.
This week the World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced the 2018 World Monuments Watch, which brings attention and resources to 25 imperiled cultural heritage sites that date from prehistory to the 20th century.
“By building an international coalition, the World Monuments Watch protects both the sites themselves and the shared history they embody,” said Joshua David, President and CEO of WMF in a press release. “Sites like the 25 on the 2018 Watch are where we come together as citizens of the world and renew our commitments to justice, culture, peace, and understanding.”

POST-INDEPENDENCE ARCHITECTURE OF DELHI, INDIA
Unlike many of India’s ancient sites, Delhi’s Post-Independence architecture is not legally protected by the government. Without these protections, argues the WMF, these buildings are at risk of damage.

BUFFALO CENTRAL TERMINAL, NEW YORK
Constructed in 1929, the Art Deco Buffalo Central Terminal streamlined the city’s transportation system in style. With the construction of the highway system beginning in the 1950s, however, train travel steadily declined and the station was closed by 1979. The building was later purchased by the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, a volunteer-led group that is seeking to redevelop the site and revitalize the Buffalo community.

TEBAIDA LEONESA, EL BIERZO, SPAIN
Sometimes called the “Valley of Silence,” the Tebaida Leonesa is home to anchoritic and monastic settlements dating back to the 7th century, including well-preserved medieval churches. As the region’s youth continue to leave the area in pursuit of economic opportunity, the remaining residents are under pressure to maintain the sites amidst the demands increasing tourism and fewer human resources.

MATOBO HILLS CULTURAL LANDSCAPE, ZIMBABWE
In southern Zimbabwe, granite rock formations sweep across the landscape. Within the Matobo Hills, some of the earliest stages of human history are evidenced by more than 3,500 recorded rock art sites scattered among its caves, cliffs, and boulders—the highest concentration of rock art in all of Africa. Development and ever-dwindling natural resources threaten the landscape—deforestation and grazing expose the rock art to harsh sun and rain, human-caused fires raze the land, and graffiti defaces the ancient imagery.

SOUK OF ALEPPO, SYRIA
For centuries, Aleppo’s labyrinthine passageways and vaulted storefronts were bursting with vendors hawking sweets, carpets, spices, and Aleppo soap. In 2011, the outbreak of an ongoing civil war has not only resulted in the incomprehensible loss of life, suffering, and displacement, but disrupted the nation’s very social fabric. The souk—a hallmark of commerce as well as social exchange—went up in flames during a fight between Syrian government forces and insurgents in 2012. According to WMF, the rehabilitation of the souk is essential to post-conflict recovery efforts.

OLD CITY OF TA’IZZ, YEMEN
Known for its lavish palaces, mosques, and madrassas, Ta'izz was the capital of Yemen from 1229 to 1454. Three religious monuments from its golden age survived to present-day, but in recent years the city has been ravaged by an ongoing civil war that has killed more than ten thousand civilians and left millions in desperate need of humanitarian aid. In 2015, rebels seized control of Ta’izz’s citadel, which was then targeted by air strikes. In the past two years, shelling and fighting have damaged several historic buildings, including the Ta’izz National Museum and its manuscript collection, and a 16th-century mosque.

RAMAL TALCA-CONSTITUCIÓN, CHILE
The last remaining rural railway branch in Chile, the 55-mile Ramal Talca-Constitución connects the city of Talca to the port of Constitución. In January 2017, forest fires damaged several sections of the railway, profoundly affecting local residents.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ST. JOHN'S, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
The 17th-century historic Government House is the official residence and office of the Governor-General of Antigua and Barbuda. Crumbling sections of the property are in dire need of renovation after enduring years of drought, hurricanes, and earthquakes. A local initiative has been launched to restore the property, and use it to bolster community and educational activities.

AL-HADBA' MINARET, IRAQ
In June 2017, militants detonated explosives at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its famous leaning minaret. The mosque was constructed in 1172, and became one of the most iconic sites in Mosul’s Old City. The future of the site and possibility for post-conflict reconstruction remains uncertain.

JEWISH QUARTER OF ESSAOUIRA, MOROCCO
Established as a trading post between Africa and Europe in the mid 18th-century, Essaouira is known its long history of religious diversity and tolerance. After the creation of the State of Israel, most of the Jewish community living in Mellah, the Jewish Quarter, left Morocco. Many of its distinct Moorish and Art Deco buildings now lay abandoned and in disrepair.

ELIYAHU HANAVI SYNAGOGUE, EGYPT
Originally built in 1354, bombed by the French in 1798, and later rebuilt in 1850, the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is one of the last vestiges of the Jewish community of Alexandria. In recent years the synagogue fell into disrepair and in 2017, the Egyptian government reportedly approved a $2.2 million plan to restore the structure.
GRAND THEATER, PRINCE KUNG'S MANSION, CHINA
Considered among the best-preserved imperial mansions in the Beijing, the 19th-century Prince Kung Mansion boasts large siheyuan-style courtyards and gardens. Its theater building needs repairs and restoration that will require both local and international expertise to maintain its original appearance.
TAKIYYAT OF AL-GULSHANI, EGYPT
Built by an influential shaykh in the 16th century, the Takiyyat of al-Gulshani is a Sufi religious foundation in Cairothat was established after the Ottoman conquest in 1517. The decaying complex houses a Mamluk-style mausoleum, mosque, kitchen, shops, and apartments—structures that are in need of repair after decades of earthquakes, looting, and neglect.


POTAGER DU ROI, FRANCE
The potager du Roi, or kitchen garden of the King, is located near the Palace of Versailles, and produced fresh vegetables and fruits for Louis XIV’s court. The grounds host more than 450 varieties of fruit trees and continue to produce 30 tons of fruit and 20 tons of vegetable today. According to WMF, an estimated 40 percent of the trees are in need of replacement.
LIFTA, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
Lifta was a traditional Palestinian Arab village in Jerusalem that was inhabited from ancient times until the mid 20th-century. The ruins are now threatened by a redevelopment plan that seeks to replace the archaeological remains with housing and shopping complexes.
AMATRICE, ITALY
In August 2016, an early morning earthquake devastated a stretch of central Italy, including the town of Amatrice. Both the human toll and destruction of cultural heritage was staggering—nearly 300 people died, 400 were injured, and many historical buildings were destroyed.


KAGAWA PREFECTURAL GYMNASIUM, JAPAN
Built in 1964 by architect Kenzo Tange, the Brutalist-style Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium hosted local sporting events in Takamatsu. After 50 years of operation, it closed its doors in 2014 and remains unused—it’s rehabilitation and preservation will depend on finding a new use for the building.


SUKUR CULTURAL LANDSCAPE, NIGERIA
Nestled in the Mandara Mountains between Nigeria and Cameroon, the Sukur homeland is known for its terrace agriculture and iron market. In 1999, the Sukur Cultural Landscape became Nigeria’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, however since 2013 the site has suffered attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamic sectarian movement in Nigeria. Militants raided the plateau, razing and looting homes and crops.
HISTORIC KARACHI, PAKISTAN
Since the partition of British India in 1947, Pakistan’s largest city has seen nearly a 50-fold population increase. As housing and infrastructure needs steadily rise and zoning regulations are relaxed, many of Karachi’s historic buildings are at risk of demolition, abandonment, and neglect.

CHAO PHRAYA RIVER, THAILAND
Flowing through Bangkok and into the Gulf of Thailand, the Chao Phraya River—also known as the River of Kings—is currently under threat from the proposed construction of an elevated promenade along the river. In addition to aesthetically altering the landscape, the project would displace riverfront communities and could cause unforeseen environmental impacts like increased flooding. Despite opposition from local communities and businesses, there are no plans to halt construction.
CERRO DE ORO, PERU
South of Lima, a sweeping network of adobe buildings and temples, burial mounds, and textiles dating back to 550 to 850 BCE marks the archaeological site of Cerro de Oro. Although it was designated a Monumental Archaeological Zone by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in 2006, it has suffered the effects of looting, neglect, and illegal encroachment.
BLACKPOOL PIERS, UNITED KINGDOM
Located on the Irish Sea coast of England, Blackpool is considered the world's first seaside resort town for the working class and has been a popular summer destination for Britons for more than a century. Sea-level rise and increasing extreme weather events, a consequence of global climate change, now threaten the coastal community. Despite the recent construction of a new sea wall to protect the town from flooding, the piers remain vulnerable.
ALABAMA CIVIL RIGHTS SITES, UNITED STATES
Throughout Alabama, churches, meeting houses, and private residences tell the stories of the U.S. Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. As the future funding of programs like the American Civil Rights Grant Program of the U.S. National Park remains uncertain and rapid urbanization encroaches, stakeholders must address increasing challenges in maintaining these historically significant sites.

SIRIUS BUILDING, AUSTRALIA
An example of Brutalist architecture, Sydney’s iconic Sirius Building was constructed in 1979 to house public tenants who were being displaced by gentrification. By 2015, much of the building was abandoned and few residents remained. Seizing the opportunity, a company announced plans to demolish the building and replace it with luxury apartments, sparking protest in the community. In July 2017 the Land and Environment Court blocked the demolition of the building, claiming the government should have granted it protection as a heritage site.

DISASTER SITES OF THE CARIBBEAN, THE GULF, AND MEXICO
After a series of natural disasters tore through the Caribbean, the Gulf, and Mexico in August and September 2017, the status of heritage sites throughout the region require identification, assessment, and response.























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