Europe’s 7 Most Endangered heritage sites 2018 announced
The Hague / Luxembourg, 15 March 2018 – Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute have announced the most threatened heritage sites in Europe for 2018: the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi in Albania, the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria, the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage in Georgia, the Constanta Casino in Romania, the Prinkipo Greek Orphanage on Princes' Islands in Turkey, and the Grimsby Ice Factory in the United Kingdom.
These gems of Europe’s cultural heritage are in grave danger, some due to neglect or inadequate development, others due to a lack of expertise or resources. Experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, together with other partners and the nominators, will visit the 7 selected sites and meet with key stakeholders in the coming months. The multidisciplinary teams will provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise wide support to save these heritage landmarks. The specialists will formulate feasible action plans for the listed sites by the end of the year.
This new list of 7 Most Endangered is announced during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, which celebrates Europe’s shared cultural heritage - at EU, national, regional and local level - and aims to encourage Europe’s citizens to discover and engage with the cultural heritage. Previous lists were published in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Maestro Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, stated: “This newest list of 7 Most Endangered comprises rare treasures of Europe’s cultural heritage that are in danger of being lost. The local communities are deeply committed to preserving these important examples of our shared heritage but need broader European support. I therefore call on local, regional, national and European stakeholders, both public and private, to join forces to secure a viable future for these sites.”
Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the European Investment Bank Institute, said: “The ongoing European Year of Cultural Heritage provides an ideal framework for the launch of this fourth list of 7 Most Endangered sites. A recent evaluation of the previously selected sites and monuments has shown impressive progress with a number of them, and it has also substantiated the capacity of investment in cultural heritage to generate multiple benefits, notably also at the socio-economic levels. We are therefore hopeful that the sites included on this new list will be saved for future generations, thanks to a combined public and private support.”
The 7 Most Endangered for 2018 were selected by the Board of Europa Nostra from the 12 sites shortlisted by a panel of specialists in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance. Nominations were submitted by civil society or public bodies which form part of Europa Nostra’s network of member and associate organisations from all over Europe.
The 7 Most Endangered programme was launched in January 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as founding partner. It was inspired by a successful similar project run by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 7 Most Endangered is not a funding programme. Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for action and to promote “the power of example”. It has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, as part of Europa Nostra’s network project ‘Sharing Heritage - Sharing Values’.
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The 7 Most Endangered 2018
(listed in alphabetical order of their country)
A number of Post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, situated in southeastern Albania, are the most representative monuments of 17th-18th century ecclesiastical art in the Balkans and are masterpieces of the post-Byzantine style. War, plundering and natural disasters have seriously damaged this group of 12 churches. The surrounding Christian population has greatly declined and a subsequent lack of clergy has resulted in the majority of the churches remaining unused for most of the year. The churches are under the responsibility of the Institute of Cultural Monuments. The listed Church of Saint George in Voskopoja, which won a Europa Nostra Award in 2011 for its outstanding conservation, now faces the threat of theft and highlights the urgency with which these remarkable churches need to be protected. The nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 was submitted by “The Past for the Future” Foundation.
The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage are located in Eastern Georgia, on the semi-desert Iori plateau and partly extend into neighbouring Azerbaijan. Dating back to the 6th-century, the site is comprised of 22 rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5,000 sanctuaries and cave-cells. The combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields makes the entire ensemble a masterpiece of Georgian culture. It is registered as a Monument of National Importance. The monastery complex faces the threat of irreversible deterioration. The main problem is the disintegration of the rocks. The churches and other spaces suffer extreme structural damage. The collapse of the structures also threatens the wall paintings. The monastery complex is under the ownership of the Patriarchate of Georgia. It is still an active monastic center with daily services and this adds to its importance and underlines the urgency of its preservation. Increased tourism to the site presents an opportunity but its sustainability needs to be addressed. The Georgian Arts and Culture Center submitted the nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018.
Built in 1910, the Constanta Casino has become a landmark of the Black Sea shore. Daniel Renard, the Swiss Romanian architect who designed the building, opted for a lavish expression of Art Nouveau to reflect Romania’s modernisation during the reign of Carol I. Following many years of alternating commercial and state held responsibility for the building’s care, during the 2000s, the Casino was abandoned. It remains so to this day due to local authorities’ inability to find funding and to launch a rescue and restore operation. There have been several transfers of administrative rights from the Municipality of Constanța, the last of these being to the National Investments Agency within the Ministry of Development. The main danger to the building comes from the corrosion and rusting of structural metal parts. Sea storms and winds have shattered most of the windows facing the sea. It is very likely that the roof will collapse if this process continues. The nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 was submitted by the ARCHÉ Association.
The Prinkipo Greek Orphanage is considered the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world. Located on Prinkipo, on the Princes' Islands off the coast of Istanbul, it was built in 1899 to the design of French architect Alexandre Vallaury. The timber framed structure features elaborately decorated wooden columns in the grand hall and panelled ceilings with decorative mouldings. The building functioned as an orphanage until its closure in 1964. Since then, the neglected structure has deteriorated. Damaged by a fire in 1980, today the building is exposed to adverse weather conditions. Sections of the roof and corner posts have already fallen and the Orphanage is now at immediate risk of further collapse. Europa Nostra Turkey submitted the nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018. The setting up of a Centre of Environmental and Interreligious Dialogue in the building, as conceived by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, could figure as the most appropriate future use of the Orphanage
The Grimsby Ice Factory is understood to be the oldest ice factory in the United Kingdom. Designed by the engineer W. F. Cott, the Factory dates from 1900 and is a substantial Grade II* listed red brick industrial building. The site is arguably the most prominent physical reminder of Grimsby’s fishing and maritime heritage, the largest fishing port in the world at the start of the 20th century. The Factory has been in a state of serious decline since its closure in 1990. The roof is now severely damaged allowing water into the interiors, and much of its metal work and electrical fittings have been stolen. Moreover, there have been threats of demolition. The Factory has remained in private ownership. A mixed use development proposal initiated by the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust, estimated to potentially create upwards of 125 jobs, has so far been unsuccessful in securing funding, resulting in the future of the Ice Factory remaining uncertain. The nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 was made by SAVE Britain’s Heritage.
Europa Nostra is the pan-European federation of heritage NGO’s which is also supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals. Covering more than 40 countries in Europe, the organisation is the voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. Founded in 1963, it is today recognised as the most representative heritage network in Europe. Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned opera singer, is the President of the organisation.
Europa Nostra campaigns to save Europe's endangered monuments, sites and landscapes, in particular through the 7 Most Endangered programme. It celebrates excellence through the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. It also contributes to the formulation and implementation of European strategies and policies related to heritage, through a structured dialogue with European Institutions and the coordination of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Europa Nostra has strongly promoted and is actively contributing to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.
The European Investment Bank Institute (EIBI) was set up within the EIB Group (European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund) to promote and support social, cultural, and academic initiatives with European stakeholders and the public at large. It is a key pillar of the EIB Group’s community and citizenship engagement. More information on http://institute.eib.org
Creative Europe is the EU programme that supports the cultural and creative sectors, enabling them to increase their contribution to jobs and growth. With a budget of €1.46 billion for 2014-2020, it supports organisations in the fields of heritage, performing arts, fine arts, interdisciplinary arts, publishing, film, TV, music, and video games as well as tens of thousands of artists, cultural and audiovisual professionals. The funding allows them to operate across Europe, to reach new audiences and to develop the skills required in the digital age.