World monuments
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Endangered cultural treasures around the world

World monuments
In an effort to preserve cultural sites around the world, the World Monuments Fund releases a list of endangered sites every two years. This year’s list includes 93 sites drawn from 47 countries, from well-known attractions to obscure ruins. Here are the spots from the list that sparked our interest, including some that you may want to visit.

In the first part of this two-part series, we shared our picks in the Americas. Now we give you our picks from the rest of the world.

-- Kelsey Ramos, Jason La and Deborah Netburn (World Monuments Fund)
Historic Center of Craco

Craco, Italy

The Historic Center of Craco was first developed between the 10th and 9th centuries B.C., and the tall watchtower that hovers above this rocky village was built in 1000 A.D. The town has been abandoned since 1991, when a landslide forced out its remaining residents. Because this hilltop town was built on an unstable slope, it will be hard to protect this ancient piece of Italian history.

More info:

thecracosociety.org/index.htm (World Monuments Fund)
Rice terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras

Ifugao, Philippines

Hundreds of man-made terraces cover the eastern side of the Cordillera Central mountain range on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines. The terraces were built 2,000 years ago and have been passed from generation to generation. Though lauded as one of the world’s best examples of soil conservation, these once lush and well-maintained structures are now in a state of neglect due to physical deterioration and decreasing use.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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Lietava Castle

Lietava, Slovakia

Towering fortress walls, fireplaces, coats of arms and renaissance portals are among what remains of Lietava Castle, built at the end of the 13th century to oversee a trade route between Europe and Asia. The remains of the three-tiered fortress are in the Sulov highlands, about 100 miles from Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital. The castle has been abandoned for centuries, but its picturesque ruins have made it a popular tourist attraction.

More information:

www.slovakia.travel

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Aghjots Monastery

Garni Village, Armenia

This 13th century monastery is about 12 miles from Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, and has survived invasions, pillaging and an earthquake. The remains include a few walls, some with inscriptions depicting the monastery’s history, and thick stone blocks.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Wonderwerk Cave

Ga-Segonyana / Kuruman, South Africa

This limestone and ironstone cave about 300 miles from Johannesburg is one of the few sites around the world with evidence of human occupation dating back nearly 2 million years. It also contains prehistoric artwork dating back 10,000 years. The cave is open to the public, and there is a small museum on the site. Despite its archaeological significance, erosion and threat of collapse threaten research here.

More information:

www.southafrica.net

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Tam Ting caves

Laos

Laos’ Tam Ting caves, which to locals means “caves of a thousand Buddhas,” embody centuries of religion and craftsmanship. These caves, made up of a lower and an upper cave, contain 4,000 wooden Buddhas carved between the 18th and 20th centuries. Looting and vandalism have threatened the Tam Ting caves and their sculptures. The caves are about 15 miles from Luang Prabang along the Mekong River.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/tam-ting (World Monuments Fund)
Phajoding

Thimphu, Bhutan

The temples and meditation houses of Phajoding are on a mountainside in Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. This meditation center was established in the 13th century and is named for its founder, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. Tourists are welcome though monks still mediate there.

More information:

www.tourism.gov.bt

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign

Podolsk, Russia

The religious figures on this 18th century church in Podolsk, about 23 miles south of Moscow, are one of the first examples of religious statuary in Russia. The church is more than 300 years old and fell into a state of disrepair during the time of Soviet Russia.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Historic landscape of Seville

Seville, Spain

The landscape of Seville, one of the oldest cities in Spain, incorporates Roman, Renaissance, medieval and Arabic influences, from a Roman aqueduct to the Gothic Cathedral of Seville. During its peak, Seville was the central highway for cargo shipments to Spain’s colonies. A growing urban population has modernized this city but also threatens its culturally and historically significant city center and riverfront.

More information:

www.spain.info

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

Barcelona, Spain

Construction of Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia began in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. A year later, Antoni Gaudí took over the design and construction of this church, working on it until his death in 1926. Since then, several architects have spearheaded this project. The church, with its massive towers and four elaborate facades, has become embedded in the identity of Barcelona. Preservationists worry that it may be threatened by plans for a nearby high-speed train line.

More information:

www.spain.info

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church

Belfast, Northern Ireland

In the late 19th century, Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church had one of the largest Methodist congregations in Belfast. Partly because it is in a religiously divided area, worship at the church stopped by 1982.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Edinburgh historic graveyards

Edinburgh, Scotland

Economist Adam Smith, poet Robert Fergusson and philosopher David Hume are among those buried in the five historic burial grounds in Edinburgh recognized by the World Monument Fund. Greyfriars Kirkyard, Canongate Kirkyard, St. Cuthbert’s Kirkyard, Old Calton Burial Ground and New Calton Burial Ground keep the remains of citizens who saw Edinburgh transform from a medieval town to one of the major centers of the Enlightenment.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Sheerness Dockyard

Sheerness, England

The 18th century Georgian-style docks, boathouse and other structures of the Sheerness Dockyard, like this clock tower, were planned with the help of 1,600-square-foot scale model that still exists. Its position on the western tip of the Isle of Sheppey, about 38 miles from London, allowed it to be a strategic point of defense against naval attacks.

More information:

www.wmf.org

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 (World Monuments Fund)
Traditional townhouses of Kyoto (machiya)

Japan

Originating in the 1600s, Kyoto’s machiya, or traditional townhouses, rose to accommodate Kyoto’s growing class of merchants and artisans. Storefronts were typically set up at the front of these long, narrow dwellings, and residences were placed at the back. Although Kyoto’s machiya were largely spared during World War II, many of these buildings have been torn down to make room for modern structures.

More info:

www.kyotomachiya.com/ (World Monuments Fund)
Lixus

Larache, Morocco

Lixus’ history dates to at least the 7th century B.C., when it was inhabited by the Phoenicians. The city was later colonized by the Romans, whose legacy remains in Lixus’ ruins. Its extensive ruins include a basilica and theater.

More info:

www.visitmorocco.com/index.php/eng/I-enjoy/Art-and-Culture/Morocco-one-of-the-cradles-of-civilization (World Monuments Fund)
Cathedral of St. James

Old City of Jerusalem

This 12th century church was named after St. James the Greater, one of the 12 apostles, and St. James the Less. The church serves Jerusalem’s Armenian community, aiding poor Armenians as early as the 12th century. The church’s ornate interior largely dates to the 18th century while the exterior is from the 12th century.

More info:

www.armenian-patriarchate.org/ (World Monuments Fund)
Ponte Lucano

Tivoli, Italy

For more than 2,000 years, travelers have used the seven-arched bridge at Ponte Lucano that stretches across the banks of the Anio River. Originally built in the 1st century B.C., it was the road from Trivoli to Rome until the mid-20th century, and up until a few years ago, could still accommodate vehicular traffic. But because of illegal industrial dumping and the artificial changing of the course of the Anio River, the bridge is threatened.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/ponte-lucano (World Monuments Fund)
Villa of San Gilio

Oppido Lucano, Italy

Lying among the golden fields of the Basilicata region in southern Italy is Villa San Gilio, the remains of a Roman villa that archaeologists say dates to the 1st century B.C. The remains comprise two large bath complexes, a fountain and a cistern. Preservationists worry that the site is being ruined by modern agricultural practices and looters in search of ancient coins.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/villa-san-gilio (World Monuments Fund)
Historic Civic Centre of Shimla

Shimla, India

Shimla is an Indian city with a British look and feel. It is set in a hilly region of northern India about 227 miles north of New Delhi. It was declared the summer capital of India in 1864 and was a popular summer destination for the British during their reign over India. Today, Shimla’s historic civic center showcases an assortment of shops and restaurants and colonial architecture, including Christ Church, Gaiety Theater and the city’s town hall.

More info:

hpshimla.nic.in/welcome.asp (World Monuments Fund)
Russborough Estate

Blessington, County Wicklow, Ireland

Russborough is a classic 18th century Irish estate, one of the few to survive relatively intact. It was built in 1741 for Joesph Leeson, the son of a wealthy Dublin brewer. The estate was donated to the country of Ireland in 1976 and opened its doors two years later for the public.

More info:

www.russborough.ie/landscape.html (World Monuments Fund)
Old City of Lod

Lod, Israel

Archaeological findings suggest that Lod was settled as early as the 5th millennium B.C. Because it was ruled by a succession of empires, Lod houses an impressive and eclectic array of ancient artifacts and buildings. In 1996, archaeologists discovered a 1,900-square-foot mosaic floor dating to Roman times. The floor is one of the best-preserved and largest Roman mosaics in Israel.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/old-city-lod (World Monuments Fund)
Old Mosque of Shali Fortress

Siwa Oasis, Egypt

The Old Mosque of Shali Fortress was built in 1203 in Siwa Oasis, an isolated settlement in northwest Egypt about 350 miles east of Cairo. The mosque, constructed with mud and salt, is one of the oldest in the world built with this technique.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/old-mosque-shali-fortress (World Monuments Fund)
Kothi, Qila Mahmudabad

Mahmudabad, India

The palace, or kothi, at Qila Mahmudabad is a part of a 20-acre fort in Mahudabad, a city in northern India near the Nepal border. The 67,650-square-foot palace was rebuilt in 1857 after being razed by the British during India’s First War of Independence. Besides its historic importance, the palace is also the site of Islamic rites.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/kothi-qila-mahmudabad (World Monuments Fund)
Damiya Dolmen Field

Damiya, Jordan Valley, Jordan

In the Jordan Valley, massive burial chambers called dolmen, dating to the 4th millennium B.C., dot the landscape. These structures were erected with gigantic slabs of rock. Because of encroaching developments and nearby quarry fields, about 300 dolmen remain in the Damiya Dolmen Field. Dolmen are also found in Europe, Asia and other parts of the Middle East.

More info:

www.wmf.org/project/damiya-dolmen-field (World Monuments Fund)
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