Europa Nostra and EIB Institute mission visits Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, Albania
Experts from Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute have arrived today in Albania for a four-day mission related to the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi. The churches were listed among the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2018, following a nomination made by “The Past for the Future” Foundation. The European delegation of heritage and financial specialists will meet with national authorities – including the Minister of Tourism and Environment Blendi Klosi, the Minister of Culture Mirela Kumbaro, the leading representative of the Orthodox Church in Korça, Voskopoja and Vithkuqi Johan Pelushi, non-governmental civil society organisations and other stakeholders, with the aim of mobilising efforts towards saving these iconic churches.
The churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi in south-eastern Albania are a group of 12 churches built during the 17th and 18th centuries. They are the most authentic evidence of the extraordinary economic development of these two Christian centres during Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Some of these churches, large in size, represent a new architectural and unique form of domed basilicas. They are the most representative monuments of 17th-18th century ecclesiastical art in the Balkans and are masterpieces of the post-Byzantine style. Despite their rare historic value, the monuments are in an advanced state of decay. Water damage and humidity pose a serious threat to the interior wall paintings. The theft of artefacts is an enduring problem as none of the churches are secured with cameras or alarms.
Peter Bond and Lourdes Llorens Abando, Technical Consultants contracted by the European Investment Bank Institute, Paolo Vitti, Member of the 7 Most Endangered advisory panel and Europa Nostra Board member, Lida Miraj, Architect Conservator and Individual Member of Europa Nostra, will participate in this mission. Kliti Kallamata, Architect Conservator of “The Past for the Future” Foundation, will represent the Albanian NGO that nominated the churches to the 7 Most Endangered programme.
On 18 September, the delegates will have a meeting with the Minister of Tourism and Environment, Blendi Klosi at the Ministry of Tourism and Environment in Tirana and will hold discussions concerning the preservation and renovation of the site.
On 19 September, the delegation will visit the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi.
On 20 September, the delegates will meet with the leading representative of the Orthodox Church in Korça, Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, Johan Pelushi, which is the owner of the churches of Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, and the with Mayor of Korça, Sotiraq Filo.
On 21 September, the delegation will meet representatives from national authorities in Tirana, including the Minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro and also with Director of the Institute of Cultural Monuments.
On the same day, at 17:30, the experts will give a press conference about the mission.
Media professionals are invited to attend the visit to the Post-Byzantine Churches on 19 September and the press conference on 21 September.
For more information about the programme of the mission, please contact Kliti Kallamata.