The 7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe 2016

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The Archaeological site of Ererouyk and the village of Ani Pemza in Armenia, Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn in Estonia, Helsinki-Malmi Airport in Finland, Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe in France, the Kampos of Chios in Greece, the Convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Extremadura in Spain, and the Ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings in Turkey have received the infamous nomination of the Seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe for 2016.


These sites are of high cultural heritage significance and are in serious danger, either due to lack of resources or expertise, or due to neglect or inadequate planning.

The announcement was made by Europa Nostra, a European cultural heritage network supported by Creative Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute (EIBI) during a public event at the Ateneo Veneto in Venice, Italy.

The 7 Most Endangered for 2016 were selected by the board of Europa Nostra from the 14 sites shortlisted by a panel of specialists in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance. Nominations were submitted by civil society or public bodies from all over Europe.

In addition, Europa Nostra and the EIBI, following a strong recommendation from an international panel of specialists, decided to highlight an endangered heritage site of the utmost importance to Europe and the world: the Venice Lagoon in Italy.

Europa Nostra and the EIBI, together with other partners and the nominators, will visit the 7 selected sites and meet with key stakeholders in order to provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise broad support.

The 7 Most Endangered programme was launched in January 2013 by Europa Nostra with the EIBI as founding partner and the Council of Europe Development Bank as associated partner. It serves as a catalyst for action and to promote "the power of example" and is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, as part of Europa Nostra’s 3-year Network Project Mainstreaming Heritage.

Seven Most Endangered Heritage Sites 2016

Archaeological Site of Ererouyk and village of Ani Pemza, Armenia


Sitting on a rocky plateau close to the Turkish‐Armenian border, Ererouyk was once one of the most important centres of worship in the region. Despite some restoration works undertaken in the last two decades, the 6th century basilica remains highly endangered. The surrounding archaeological area is at risk of being lost before it can be comprehensively studied. The Centre of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture in Italy (CSDCA), which made the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, proposes a multidisciplinary project in order to study and rehabilitate the site and the establishment of a transnational archaeological park along the Akhurian River. The village of Ani Pemza, built in 1926 and located a few hundred metres away, could serve as a cultural tourism centre, thus contributing to the socioeconomic revitalisation of the area.

Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn, Estonia


Built in 1840, Patarei Sea Fortress is the largest classical style defence ensemble in Estonia. Between 1920 and 2005, the fortress was converted into a prison in which political prisoners were detained. Today, this site is a “lieu de mémoire” and a powerful symbol of national resistance to both the Communist and Nazi regimes. The main threat to the ensemble is its rapid deterioration due to the harsh climate and the lack of maintenance. Several areas are closed for safety reasons. The Estonian Heritage Society, which submitted the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, proposes the regeneration of this large ensemble and its reuse as a museum complex, a centre for creative industries, a hotel, or offices and apartments. Patarei has the potential to become a major tourist attraction in the Baltic Sea Region, in combination with the adjacent Tallinn Seaplane Harbour (a Grand Prix winner of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013), the Old Town of Tallinn and also with the Suomenlinna Fortress in Helsinki.

Helsinki-Malmi Airport, Finland


Built in the mid-1930s in the functionalist architectural style, the Helsinki-Malmi Airport is one of the best‐preserved still active pre‐World War II international airports in the world. With about 40.000 landings per year, Malmi is by far the busiest airport in Finland after Helsinki‐Vantaa International. The terminal and hangar are in good shape thanks to good maintenance over the years. The airport is now under serious threat from a new development project. The City of Helsinki’s new General Plan proposes that the site be used for new residential development to be constructed in the early 2020s. Europa Nostra Finland, supported by the Friends of Malmi Airport (FoMA), submitted the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, advocating that the site can continue as a training and commercial airport with added value from cultural tourism and its free-schedule services, which are otherwise unavailable within a 150km radius.

Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe, Normandy, France


Contemporaneous with the Eiffel Tower and using the same building techniques and materials (puddled iron), the Colbert Bridge is the last large swing bridge still operating in Europe with its original hydraulic mechanism. It is crossed by 12,000 vehicles and 1,800 pedestrians every day. In 2014, the Syndicat Mixte du Port de Dieppe (SMPD), which owns the bridge, decided to replace the 1889 bridge with a new structure. In its turn, Dieppe's Colbert Bridge Protection Committee has demonstrated not only that the bridge’s restoration is technically and financially feasible, but also that this could be carried out at a considerably lower cost than the plan put forward by the SMPD. The Fondation du Patrimoine, which nominated the site for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, proposes the restoration of the bridge and the modernisation of its mechanism.

Kampos of Chios, island of Chios, Greece


The Kampos of Chios is a semi‐rural area within the city limits of Chios that exemplifies the coexistence of Byzantine, Genoese and local architectural styles and influences. It used to consist, principally, of more than 200 estates containing orchards (typical agro‐eco‐systems), mansions and churches. The existing urban tissue includes buildings from the 14-18th centuries as well as neoclassical buildings from the beginning of the 20th century. The site is under permanent threat due to the inability of the owners to maintain the properties and to unsuitable uses and provisions introduced by the 2008 Urban Plan for Chios. Elliniki Etairia ‐ Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage in collaboration with The Society of Friends of the Kampos of Chios nominated the site for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016, putting forward a number of actions for its preservation and enhancement.

Convent of St. Anthony of Padua, Extremadura, Spain


Located in the village of Garrovillas de Alconétar, the Franciscan Convent of St. Anthony of Padua was for centuries a religious and cultural landmark in western Spain. Built in the late 15th century and greatly renovated and expanded in the mid-17th century, it featured a Gothic church and a Renaissance cloister. Although it was classified as a Monument of Cultural Interest in 1991, the Convent is now in an advanced state of disrepair. The nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016 was made by Hispania Nostra, which puts forward an emergency intervention plan based on volunteer work managed by experienced professionals. With this proposal, the nominator aims not only to mobilise the public authorities at various levels of governance to carry out the rehabilitation of the monument, but also to set an example for similar cases throughout the country.

Ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings, Turkey


The 12,000-year-old settlement of Hasankeyf is located on the banks of the Tigris River in south-eastern Turkey. From Neolithic caves to Roman ruins and Medieval monuments, Hasankeyf is a living museum of epic proportions. Despite its exceptionally rich multicultural history and heritage, 80% of Hasankeyf will be flooded if the Ilısu hydroelectric dam project is implemented as planned. There is no internationally recognised scheme for the relocation and preservation of the monuments. The most urgent action is to formulate an independent strategic plan that balances conservation and sustainable development. Hasankeyf was nominated for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016 by the Cultural Awareness Foundation whose campaign is supported by a range of national and international bodies.

The endangered heritage site of the utmost importance to Europe and the world

Venice Lagoon, Italy


There could be no Venice and no Venetian civilization without the lagoon. Few historic sites in the world demonstrate so clearly the interdependence of humankind with our environment, of nature with culture. Yet just as the world contributes to the conservation of monuments in the city, unsustainable development is cutting the physical branch on which Venice has always perched. Italia Nostra nominated the Venice Lagoon for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016 as part of a long-term plan to save both the lagoon and the city. In the short-term it proposes: the exclusion of large-scale cruise ships from the lagoon; the suspension of new projects to dredge channels; the cancellation of all major commercial port projects; and the reconstruction of salt marshes. And in the longer term: the transfer of major port activities to Trieste; the rebirth of the abandoned and polluted industrial area of Marghera to become a science and technology park; and incentives to bring inhabitants and companies to Venice.

The challenges are huge, demanding a rare combination of conservation, environmental and social sensitivity. For this reason Europa Nostra has adopted the nomination of the Venice Lagoon as a separate category.