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These are the 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe

The European Heritage Federation Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have published a list of the seven most endangered monuments and heritage sites in Europe by 2021. The selected sites are eligible for a heritage grant from the EIB of up to EUR 10,000 per location.

“The purpose of our 7th Most Threatened List 2021 is to sound the alarm about the serious threats these sites are facing, ”said Guy Clausse, Vice President of Europa Nostra, at an online event. The heritage federation selected the seven sites from twelve endangered sites that had been shortlisted by a panel of international experts.

European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel (innovation, culture, research) responded to the announcement: “Europe’s cultural heritage is our past, our present and our future. It is part of our identity and brings people from all over our continent together around shared values ​​and experiences. It is precious and deserves our utmost attention and protection ”.

1. Achenseebahn, Tyrol, Austria

Photo: Herbert Ortner

This is the world’s only public railway that, since its opening in 1889, still uses the integral stock of a 19th-century rail network. In the spring of 2020, the Achenseebahn company went bankrupt and the subsidies promised by the Tyrolean provincial government were never paid out. Due to lack of maintenance, the rack railway is in danger of quickly falling into disrepair.

2. Mirogoj cemetery complex, Zagreb, Croatia

Photo: FoxyStranger Kawasaki

The complex, built between 1876 and 1929, is a fine example of European neoclassical architecture. However, in March and December 2020, the city of Zagreb was hit by two severe earthquakes, which caused serious damage to the site. Apart from structural damage and cracks, the arcades, pavilions, church, many tombstones and sculptures are also badly damaged.

3. Five South Aegean Islands, Greece

Amorgos. Photo: AP Photo / Dimitri Messinis / Isopix

The islands of Amorgos, Kimolos, Kithira, Sikinos and Tinos are part of the so-called ‘Cycladic landscape’, which is an essential part of the Greek and also the European identity. But there is a proposed project to place wind turbines on these five islands, often next to archaeological sites, some in Natura 2000 protected areas.

4. Giardino Giusti, Verona, Italy

Photo: Dependability

The Giusti Garden dates back to 1570 and has been open to the public ever since. The site is a school picture of the typical Tuscan Renaissance garden and has been preserved in its original form to this day. In 2020, the Giardino Giusti was hit by three violent thunderstorms that caused extensive damage. About 30 trees – a third of the total – and part of the boxwood labyrinth have been uprooted, along with some additional boxwoods in the ground floor. Three 17th century statues and the irrigation systems are also broken or badly damaged.

5. Monastery Visoki Dečani, Kosovo

Photo: Pudelek / Marcin Szala

Built in the first half of the 14th century, this Serbian Orthodox monastery is one of the most important medieval religious monuments in Europe. Dečani Monastery has been on the ‘UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger’ since 2006. The monastery is protected 24/7 by KFOR peacekeeping forces, but the integrity of the monastery and its surroundings continues to be threatened due to unresolved legal and institutional issues.

6. Central Post Office, Skopje, North Macedonia

Photo: Blagica Stojcevska / Europa Nostra

Completed in 1974, the central post office represents the modernist brutalist architectural style of the post-war era. The powerful structure of the building, made of reinforced concrete in the shape of a lotus flower, was meant to symbolize the reconstruction of Skopje after the severe earthquake of 1963. The building survived a severe fire in 2013, but the original glazing of the dome , the murals, custom furniture and lighting were completely lost or seriously damaged. Today the building is falling into disrepair.

7. San Juan de Socueva Chapel and Hermitage, Cantabria, Spain

Photo: Miguel de Arriba / Europa Nostra

San Juan de Socueva is an old hermitage and chapel located in the rocky mountains just south of the municipality of Arredondo, Cantabria, in the north of Spain. Dating from 660-680 AD, the chapel still has a religious function and is deeply rooted in the community. But the portico is in an advanced state of disrepair. In addition, visitors can enter freely to cause damage.

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