20 European Heritage sites on the 2014 World Monuments Watch List

The city of Venice (Italy), the Gaslight and Gas Lamps in Berlin (Germany), the Güell Pavilions and Garden in Barcelona (Spain), the Battersea Power Station in London (England), and the Cathedral of Mren in Digor, Kars (Turkey) are among the 20 European heritage sites at risk listed in the 2014 World Monuments Watch. The complete list features 67 sites in 41 countries from around the world. The announcement was made in New York on 8 October by the World Monuments Fund, a US-based independent organisation devoted to safeguarding the world’s treasured places. It is worthwhile mentioning that also Europa Nostra recently made an ‘Appeal for the Saving of Venice’. As for the Gaslight and Gas Lamps, they were also one of the 14 monuments shortlisted last April for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’, the Europa Nostra’s new flagship programme developed in partnership with the European Investment Bank Institute.

Rio de S. Trovaso, Venice Photo: Juan Antonio F. Segal CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Rio de S. Trovaso, Venice Photo: Juan Antonio F. Segal CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Maintaining Venice, not only as a travel destination but as a community, has become increasingly challenging. A significant factor in this dynamic is cruise tourism, which has increased cruise passenger visitation to Venice by 400% in the past five years, with some 20,000 people disembarking per day during the peak season. The large cruise ships have had direct and indirect impacts on flooding, because of dredging requirements and the movement of large ships through the Giudecca Canal. The influx of visitors in fragile historic areas has likewise affected the quality of life for residents, contributing to a 50% decline in the city’s population over the past decade,” reads the official website of the World Monuments Fund.

“First introduced in 1826, the streets of Berlin were once lit by over 80,000 gas lamps; about 43,500 remain today. The German government has called for the replacement of the remaining lamps with electrified fixtures over the next eight years, with plans to only save a small number. Over 1,000 have been lost in the last year alone, and demolition contractors have been given financial incentives to finish ahead of schedule. Berlin residents, as well as the international community, have been protesting the loss of the gas lamps, not only because of their social value and cultural significance, but also because of the questionable rationale for their replacement. Proponents for demolition claim that the new lamps will be more cost-effective and ecologically friendly, but opponents counter that proper full-cost accounting, which incorporates a life-cycle-based assessment of all economic, environmental, and social costs, suggests otherwise,” states the World Monuments Fund’s official website.

The 2014 World Monuments Watch features 67 endangered heritage sites from all over the world, 20 of which are in Europe, dating from prehistory to the twentieth century. The 2014 list reflects a number of distinct preservation challenges, including conflict and catastrophe, lack of resources, development pressures (urban, rural, and tourism), and loss of cultural traditions.

Launched in 1996 and issued every two years, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage sites around the world. Watch-listing provides an opportunity for sites and their nominators to raise public awareness, foster local participation, advance innovation and collaboration, and demonstrate effective solutions.

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