A collage of the seven endangered properties for 2023, Source: Europa Nostra

The “7 Most Endangered” Programme promotes new heritage sites in peril

The “7 Most Endangered” Programme promotes new heritage sites in peril

This year, Europa Nostra's flagship event and mission celebrates its 10th anniversary

This year, Europa Nostra’s valuable 7 Most Endangered Programme turns 10 years old, underscoring the necessity of its mission to shine the light on the heritage sites that are at risk of being lost or destroyed. Earlier today, an online event was held to announce the newest seven additions to this list, considered the most endangered sites for 2023.

The selection was made on the basis of the outstanding heritage significance and cultural value of each of the sites, as well as the serious danger that they are facing today. The level of engagement of local communities and the commitment of public and private stakeholders to saving these sites were considered crucial added values.

Another selection criterion was the potential of these sites to act as a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development as well as a tool for promoting peace and dialogue within their localities and wider regions.

Here are the 7 most endangered sites

The Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra, Guy Clausse, stated:

By putting these heritage sites on the 2023 list of 7 Most Endangered, we wish to convey a message of hope, solidarity and support to the local communities and activists who are resolutely determined to save them. Let us use Europe’s cultural heritage as a vector for peace, social cohesion and sustainable development.”

What's interesting and perhaps now a trademark of the selection is the wide variety of heritage sites in terms of geography, historical eras, styles, function and symbolism. Here are the seven selections:

  • Kortrijk Railway Station (Belgium) - the first railway station in Kortrijk was heavily bombed in 1944. The rebuilding of the station followed the Expo 58 style, a "discussion" between neoclassical and contemporary elements. It is now threatened to be demolished to make space for the development of a new station. The local community advocates against the demolition and for the sustainable development of this architectural landmark.
  • Partisan Memorial Cemetery, (Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina) - The Partisan Memorial Cemetery is one of the largest anti-fascist monuments in the Balkans. Built in 1965 in the town of Mostar, it features some 700 tombstones as grave markers of freedom fighters from the Yugoslav Partisan movement.
    This memorial site has become one of the region's contested heritage sites. This has resulted in repeated acts of vandalism up until June of 2022, which received widespread condemnation. This memorial site urgently needs a holistic plan for its conservation and maintenance with corresponding funding.
  • Tchakvinji Fortress (Zugdidi, Georgia) - Located in the city of Zugdidi, the Tchakvinji Fortress was constructed between the 2nd and 5th centuries BC and remained in use until the 18th century. Abandoned for over two centuries, the fortress has suffered from deterioration and has been exposed to severe weather conditions. The necessary rescue of this Monument of National Significance would also act as a catalyst for the sustainable socioeconomic development of the region.
  • Sisters' House Ensemble, former Moravian settlement (Kleinwelka, Germany) - Built in the mid-18th century, the Sisters' House Ensemble is located in Kleinwelka, a former Moravian settlement in Saxony. The Moravian settlement began to decline by the 20th century.
    Tenants started moving out due to low housing standards. Since then, the abandoned buildings have fallen into decay. Once restored, this ensemble could tell the local history and provide a heritage space for social activities of local, regional and cross-border importance.
  • Memento Park (Budapest, Hungary) - Opened in 1993, Memento Park is a history museum, an educational centre and an artistic action ground. It is the resting place of statues which used to symbolise communist ideology in the streets of Budapest from 1945 to 1989.
    It has been operated and maintained by a business organisation, with the support of a public benefit foundation since 2007. The operators undertake general maintenance, but income is insufficient for expert conservation.
  • Cultural Landscape of Sveti Stefan (Paštrovići, Montenegro) - This 15th-century fortified town was built as the cultural and administrative heart of the Paštrovići region. The 1.2-hectare islet of Sveti Stefan - with its stone houses, churches, streets, lanes, squares and gardens - is connected by a low bridge to the mainland in close proximity to Miločer Park. The authorities in Montenegro are urged to limit the development of tourism and real estate facilities inside the site area and fully claim the region as public.
  • Watermills of Bistrica, (Petrovac na Mlavi, Serbia) - The Watermills of Bistrica is a unique complex of historic mills for grinding grain and rolling cloth created from the 19th century to the mid-20th century.
    They are under threat of destruction due to abandonment and exposure to harsh weather. With proper restoration and a sustainable cultural tourism plan, the Watermills of Bistrica could become an example of the successful revitalisation of rural heritage in Western Balkans, bringing multiple benefits to the local community, economy and environment.

The 7 selected sites are eligible for a European Investment Bank (EIB) Heritage Grant of 10,000 euros per site to assist in implementing an agreed activity that will contribute to saving the threatened sites. What’s more, experts from Europa Nostra and EIB will work with representatives of the beneficiary sites to compile technical and financial reports with recommendations for action on conservation.



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