Take a trip to Europe and it’s evident that cultural heritage dating back thousands of years is present in the form of beautiful and well-preserved landmarks and archaeological sites. However, not every cultural location and monument is in good shape or getting the attention it requires. Taking a closer look will reveal that some places are slowly crumbling or at risk of total ruin.
In a bid to draw attention to the plight of these sites and landmarks, a European heritage organisation known as Europa Nostra has shortlisted sites that need help. Such a list is particularly noteworthy to architectural experts such as John Hiscocks, who as lead architect for Hill International has a natural interest in archaeological building sites.
A group of international advisors with experience in history and preservation help put together the Europa Nostra list. The organisation hopes that by listing these sites, action can be taken to help preserve them. Funding will most likely be received for these sites, with a board of heritage and financial experts coming up with an action plan to guide the preservation plans.
Here are some of the sites on the list:
Roman Amphitheatre in Durrës, Albania
The Amphitheatre of Durrës, located in the centre of the city, has its origins in the early 2nd century but was discovered in the 1960s. It is one of the most remarkable sites in the Balkan region and was in use for more than three hundred years. The amphitheatre could seat up to 20,000 spectators, and history speculates that it stopped being used either because of an earthquake or an edict from Emperor Theodosius (in 391 AD) to close all pagan centres. In later years, the site was used for Christian events.
According to experts, various factors pose a threat to the amphitheatre, including erosion, neglect, inadequate city planning, and water percolation. A lack of financial resources and public awareness have also contributed to its endangerment. With Europa Nostra’s intervention, the hope is that the site can be restored back to its former beauty and exceptional stature.
The Ancient City of Hasankeyf, Turkey
The ancient city of Hasankefy, built around the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey, is considered one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world. The area is home to hundreds of medieval monuments, a canyon ecosystem and thousands of human-made caves that combine to create a breath-taking site.
However, the city is at risk of becoming a sunken treasure with the construction of the Ilisu Dam, a massive hydroelectric dam whose reservoir will flood most of the city’s structures and caves. The building of the dam will raise the water level of the Tigris by 60 metres, which will result in the submersion of 80 percent of the ancient city and many of the surrounding villages, including historical sites yet to be explored.
Citadel of Alessandria, Italy
The Citadel is located in the north-west of Alessandria and is the lowest point in the Piedmont region (sitting about 90 metres above sea level). The fortress was used in the Late Middle Ages and was built after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 when Alessandria was governed by the House of Savoy. During the French occupation, the location of the citadel and its fortifications made it one of the most impressive fortresses of its time.
Tatoi Palace, Greece
The Tatoi Palace is a 10,000-acre estate that was previously the summer abode of the Greek royal family. In its prime, it was a self-sustaining mini town, complete with a butcher shop, winery, churches and small archaeological museum, with houses dotting the landscape. However, the estate has been ignored for a long time, with the gardens overgrown, sculptures crumbing and old buildings falling apart.