The 7 Most Endangered

Europa Nostra

“Campaigning to save Europe's most threatened heritage sites”

All across Europe, historic monuments and sites are in danger; some due to a lack of funds or expertise, others due to inadequate planning, neglect, natural disasters or even political conflict.

That is why the leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra has launched, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 2013, ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme, in partnership with the European Investment Bank Institute.

This programme will serve as a true catalyst for necessary action. It will assist local communities in finding a viable and sustainable future for these monuments. It will also seek to rally public and private support for rescuing those sites.

In this exhibition you will discover the history, the threats and the future potential of these fascinating places. We can save these sites for present and future generations....only if we work together!

Plácido Domingo announces the 7 Most Endangered sites in Europe

40 nominations were submitted in this first year of 'The 7 Most Endagered". 

14 sites were shortlisted by an Advisory Panel composed of international experts.

From the list of 14 shortlisted sites, the Board of Europa Nostra selected the 7 most threatened landmarks in Europe.

In September and October 2013, Europa Nostra - together with the European Investment Bank Institute as a founding partner and the Council of Europe Development Bank as an associate partner - has visited these 7 Most Endangered sites and prepared rescue action plans in close cooperation with various stakeholders.

The 7 Most Endangered sites for 2013 are:

1) The Roman Amphitheatre in Durrës in Albania

2) The Buffer Zone in the Historic Centre of Nicosia in Cyprus

3) The 17th Century Vauban’s Fortifications in Briançon in France

4) The Renaissance Monastery of San Benedetto Po in Italy

5) The 15th Century Monastery in Setúbal in Portugal

6) The Historic Mining Landscape of Rosia Montana in Romania

7) The Armenian Church of St. George in Mardin in Turkey

Video announcement of the 7 Most Endangered Monuments and Sites in Europe 

1) Roman Amphitheatre in Durrës, Albania

- archaeological site;

- constructed beginning of the 2nd Century AD;

- one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkans;

- the biggest monument in Albania;

- in use for more than 3 centuries;

- located in the city centre of Durres;


- geo-technical instability;

- deterioration of mosaics and frescoes;

- water drainage;

- development pressures.

This magnificent early 2nd century amphitheatre, rediscovered  as recently as in the 1960s, has put the ancient city of Durrës back on the map of important historic sites of Europe.

Mosaics and frescoes are very much damaged and are protected by a provisional covering system for the parietal mosaic and the chapel.

2) The Buffer Zone of the Historic Centre of Nicosia, CYPRUS

- heritage site of historical importance « Lieux de mémoire »;

- administered by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus;

- a lifeless corridor within the walled city of 1.5 km;

- approximately 10% of the total are of the walled city;

- 265 buildings;

- only 3% of the buildings in good condition;

- medieval churches, houses with “kioks” on the street facades, neoclassical buildings, corner buildings, etc;

- it used to house the busiest market which was a meeting place for  all communities;

- the most important area within the historic centre and its role is crucial for the future reunification and integration of the city.

Nicosia is  the last divided city in Europe. where historic buildings are taken hostage within the buffer zone of the walled town.

The buffer zone area cuts across the historic centre of Nicosia, forming a lifeless corridor of 1.5 km and disrupting the city’s cohesion and continuity.

Cultural heritage can help transcend political conflicts and contribute to the process of reconciliation. 

Conservationists from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have worked together with the UN to produce a European Union / Europa Nostra award-winning master plan. The time has come for the plan to be gradually implemented.

A photo reportage from the visit to the buffer zone of the historic centre of Nicosia by a top-level delegation of heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute on 14 October 2013.

For the first time in two years, representatives from European institutions and delegates from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities visited the buffer zone of Nicosia on 14-15 October 2013.

3) Vauban’s Fortifications in Briançon, FRANCE

- the city of Briançon, already fortified during the Middle Ages, receives a new town wall in 1691, which is revised the next year by Vauban;

- brilliantly positioned on a cliff overlooking the Durance river, at the crossroads of five alpine valleys at the gates of Italy;

- this escalation of the Briançon’s forts is the finest of all mountain fortifications in the world;


- degradation of structures;

- harsh mountain climate and lack of maintenance;

- lack of funds: the restoration is estimated to cost cc. 100 million euro.

Designed in the 17th century to guard the city, this masterpiece of mountain fortifications now needs to be protected from further decay and to be given a new and viable use. Due to its size and heritage importance, already recognised by UNESCO, the local, national and international communities are called to team up to save it.

This defensive architectural complex comprises urban walls, which spread over more than three kilometres; three forts (Randouillet, Dauphin and Trois Têtes) on the left bank of the Durance river, which are interconnected to the city by the Communication Y and the Asfeld Bridge; and a fourth fort (Salettes) located on the right bank of the river.

The Fort des Trois Têtes is a real military city that covers over 40 hectares. The Fort is one of the major projects (1724-1734) of the reign of Louis XV.

4) Renaissance Monastery of San Benedetto Po, near Mantova, ITALY

- built in 1007;

- Benedictine monks shaped its history;

- it has an imposing abbey where some of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance worked (including Giulio Romano);

- Marthin Luther, Giorgio Vasari and Andrea Palladio among its guests;

- recent large restoration completed in 2011;

- damaged by the earthquake of 20 and 29 May 2012;

- cost of renovation for the monastery is estimated at 10 million euro.

This 15/16th century monastery was heavily damaged by the May 2012 earthquakes. This demonstrates that natural disasters continue to be a threat to Europe’s cultural heritage.

Given the great historic importance and touristic potential of this renaissance building a real rescue action is urgently needed.

The examined damages to the monastery complex were caused by the earthquakes of 20 and 29 May 2012, which caused many damages in the monastery of San Benedetto Po and in other buildings owned by the municipality, causing the instant closure for security reasons.

Detail of the library of the monastery after the earthquake
Human chain around San Benedetto Po Monastery testifies deep ties with the local community

5) Manueline Style Monastery and Church of Jesus in Setúbal, PORTUGAL

- finished in 1494 by Master Diogo de Boitaca;

- the first building of Portuguese late gothic's style later labelled “Manuelin”;

- the Treaty between Spain and Portugal that paved the way for Europe’s expansion both to the Americas and to the Far East was signed by Spain in Torsedillas and by Portugal in Sétubal in 1495;

- the European Union granted it the European Heritage Label in 2011;

- estimated cost of full restoration is around 14 million euros.

The Monastery and Church of Jesus is in an advanced state of decay which urgently calls for European support and solidarity.

The Convent and the Church are a landmark of Manuelin architecture as it preceded and is considered to have been the source of inspiration for Diogo de Boitaca's design and construction of his masterpiece, the Monastery of Santa Maria de Bélem (Jéronimos) in Lisbon.

A top-level delegation of heritage and financial experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute visited the monastery and took part in several working meetings with local and national entities on 4-5 September 2013.

6) Roşia Montană Mining Landscape in Transylvania, ROMANIA

- situated in Transylvania's Metalliferous Mountains, a division of the Apuseni Mountains, the western section of Romania's Carpathians;

- the earliest elements of the site date back to the Bronze Age

- the first underground mines at the site are dated in the Dacian Iron Age, as early as the 1st Century BC.

The ancient landscape of Roşia Montană has for more than three millennia been formed by mining activities. However, a new open-cast gold mining project would seriously threaten this unique historical environment. Very short-term gain could cause permanent damage to  one of Europe's most important industrial heritage sites and cause series risks to its natural environment.

The first written attestation of the place is preserved on a waxed tablet discovered in the mining galleries, dated 6 February 131 AD.

7) St. George Armenian Church in Mardin, TURKEY

- Mardin is part of the northern Mesopotamian landscape that has played a major role in the history of mankind;

- the church has not been in use for many years and is now open to damages by natural forces;

- the monastery complex has a high symbolic value for the Armenian community which had to leave Mardin at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Mardin is an old town, whose foundations go back to ancient times. It was at the frontier of the Roman Empire and became a Christian town under Eastern Roman Empire.

The surroundings of Mardin are full of early Christian churches and monasteries.

This tangible witness of Turkey’s multicultural history, which was built in 1857, is today in an advanced state of disrepair. The ancient town of Mardin was a melting pot of cultures and religions. Today, this heritage has a great potential for sustainable tourism and economic development.

Europa Nostra started working with the Google Cultural Institute in 2013 in a shared ambition to show to the public the importance of cultural heritage in Europe. These sites are not only relevant to local communities but also to the rest of Europe and the entire world. Cultural heritage is Europe's untapped reserve, its hidden treasure. The stories behind these monuments and sites connect us to our past world and show us a road to the future; culturally, economically and socially.

The aim of  the 7 Most Endangered exhibition is not just to tell the story of a collection of threatened sites across Europe, but also to show how the problems they face could potentially be tackled. These monuments deserve a new future, a new lease on life, so they can reclaim their place in the local community as well as in the wider European context.

Our Culture is what makes Europe – Europe.

“This is the moment to start a new renaissance for Europe’s cultural heritage. Our cultural heritage is a powerful and sustainable way out of difficult times. Rescuing these sites would act as a catalyst for the social and economic revitalisation of entire cities or areas. 

Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra

“Investment in heritage conservation contributes to sustainable development and ultimately to growth and employment through its positive impacts on the local and regional economies. We will develop realistic action plans, in close cooperation with the national and local public and private entities.”

Rémy Jacob, Director General of the EIB and Dean of the EIB Institute.

“For 50 years, Europa Nostra has been active in saving endangered heritage all over Europe, from the ancient site of Delphi in Greece in the early 1980s to the historic city of L’Aquila in Italy in the 2010s. This new programme demonstrates, among others, the recognition by the EU Institutions of their responsibility towards safeguarding Europe’s cultural heritage, as stated in the Treaty of Lisbon (article 3.3).” 

Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

'The 7 Most Endangered' Programme is a public awareness raising project to save and revitalise threatened European heritage monuments and sites. 

You can help by becoming a member of Europa Nostra and support our cause or you can get involved in 'The 7 Most Endangered' as a (cyber)volunteer, donor or supporter.  

See how you can contribute at www.europanostra.org

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