The 7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe 2021, Source: Europa Nostra

7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe: The 2021 list announced

7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe: The 2021 list announced

This initiative by Europa Nostra will become annual from now on

Today, 8 April, during the first online format of the event, the largest heritage organization on the continent Europa Nostra announced the 7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites. A special guest of the ceremony was EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

The programme, which exists since 2013, has the goal of raising awareness about the fragile conditions of heritage sites, with the hope that this will act as a catalyst for sustainable action around preserving them so they can exist for future generations, too.

Apart from the sites in question (which you can see in the Gallery above), two other announcements were made. Starting this year, the event will take place annually, increasing its frequency. Also, finalist sites will be eligible to receive a heritage grant of up to 10,000 euros as initial funding to efforts of preservation.

The 7 choices reflect the variety of dangers that affect heritage

This is a list that is meant to bring attention to the public so that the sites would be saved, hopefully as soon as possible. In a way, this is an anti-award list - it is, in essence, an urgency call.

Its preliminary selection was made with the support of experts from the EIB Institute. It provides experts for the evaluation and the new seed funding.

The 7 Endangered Sites are:

  • Achensee Steam Cog Railway, Austria. 132-years old and the only railway in the world using 19-century technology, but at risk of deterioration due to lack of funding.
  • Historical Cemetery Complex Mirogoj, Zagreb, Croatia. It was directly hit by the two major Croatian earthquakes last year. The concurrent Covid pandemic has also made assessment and restoration that much harder to carry out.
  • 5 Southern Aegean islands, Greece. Amorgos, Kimolos, Kithira, Sikinos and Tinos comprise the iconic ‘Cycladic landscape’ and the backdrop of many summer dream vacations. These days, however, they are threatened by business development which proposes the installation of wind turbines, which while provide renewable energy would also compromise the harmonious cultural landscape.
  • Giusti Garden, Verona, Italy. This is a Renaissance garden, which is privately owned but has been open to the public since its creation in 1570. It was hit by 3 severe thunderstorms in 2020, which caused considerable damage.
  • Visoki Dečani Monastery, Kosovo. Dating back to the 14th century, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An important religious hub on the Balkans, its location has rendered it a victim to unsettled legal and institutional issues, due to the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo.
  • Central Post Office, Skopje, Macedonia. This entry is the most modern, having been finalized in 1974 in the Brutalist style. It represents a vision of the rebirth of the Macedonian capital after a destructive earthquake, yet ironically these days it itself is subject to deterioration and disuse.
  • San Juan de Socueva chapel and hermitage, Cantabria, Spain. The oldest entry in this group dates back to the end of the 7th It is freely open to visitors, even if it is located in a mountainous area in the north of Spain, which exposes it to further risk of degradation.

Some conclusions from the event

As is visible from this selection heritage is threatened by a variety of factors, such as climate change effects, natural hazards, neglect, difficult economic circumstances, political choices and armed conflicts.

In that light, EU Commission Mariya Gabriel noted that the 7 endangered sites were representative of this spectrum of hazards.

As generations come and go everyone is inspired by what is left behind. Heritage strengthens social cohesion and foster mutual understanding, but is also a source of economic jobs,” she added.

The Commissioner listed the number of tools that the European Union has at its disposal to provide support to heritage conservation. The Creative Europe Programme is one of these, and the Committee of Regions Joint Action Plan is another one that has paid some attention to this area.

In Mariya Gabriel’s opinion, there is also a need to build synergies with the European Institute of Innovation, and to foster an educational climate that provides skills and knowledge among the younger generations in order to make them appreciate what they have and the significance of heritage to their lives.

Europa Nostra’s initiative has already shown results. For example, in 2014, the Mafra National Palace in Portugal was on the list. Since then, its two belltowers are fully functional again, which was made possible after a complex restoration process. This shows that results, even if they take time can be achieved, but naturally, effort, interest and dedication are also needed.



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