Europe could be considered as Mecca for tourists due to its rich and vast culture and history. Beautiful landscapes, ancient monuments and extraordinary buildings can be found in every corner of Europe. Local governments are aware that much of their income comes from tourism so they must keep this industry working well.
In spite of this fact, there are a number of locations, monuments or buildings are in danger, some due to neglect or inadequate development, others due to a lack of expertise or resources.
Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute have announced the most threatened heritage sites in Europe. Experts from these organizations are planning to put together multidisciplinary teams that will provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise wide support to save these heritage landmarks.
Here is the complete list of these endangered sites:
Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi (Albania)
Various post-Byzantine churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, located in southeastern Albania, are the most representative monuments of 17th-18th century ecclesiastical art in the Balkans and are masterpieces of the post-Byzantine style.
After more than two centuries of devastation due to war, earthquakes and erosion, only five of the churches remain.
These remaining churches can be visited to be admired for their colorful murals and frescoes that still shine like the first day.
The surrounding Christian population has greatly declined and a subsequent lack of clergy has resulted in the majority of the churches remaining unused for most of the year.
Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria
The Historic Centre of Vienna has immense significance to Europe’s tangible and intangible culture, as a city of great architectural importance and as an exceptional centre for the development of arts.
The Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria
Located in the central balkan mountains, in the heart of Bulgaria, the Buzludzha Monument is an imposing example of 20th-century architecture. Built in 1981 to be the House-Monument of the then ruling Bulgarian Communist Party, the structure was in use for just 8 years. Soon after the end of the Communist regime, the monument was abandoned and has since been victim to thefts, vandalism and severe weather conditions. The ostentatious finish of its Brutalist architecture, heavy iconography and colourful mosaics has decayed. However, the building attracts increasing international attention. No action has been taken by the responsible authorities to protect the site so far.
David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, Georgia
The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage are a rock-hewn orthodox monastery complex located in eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja and partly extend into neighbouring Azerbaijan. Dating back to the 6th-century, the complex comprises hundreds of sanctuaries, churches, cells and chapels where a number of frescoes depicting the mother of god and saints are a treasure for the naked eye.
However, the monastery complex faces the threat of irreversible deterioration. The main problem is the disintegration of the rocks. The churches and cells suffer extreme structural damage. The collapse of the structures also threatens the wall paintings.
Increased tourism to the site presents an opportunity but its sustainability needs to be addressed.
Constanta Casino, Romania
The Constanta Casino has become a landmark of the Black Sea shore since its inauguration in 1910. The architect who designed the building opted for a lavish expression of Art Nouveau to reflect Romania’s modernisation.
The building was originally opened to house a casino but as time went by, the place was used for other purposes: as a hospital during wartime and after that, a remodeling took place to open a restaurant but expenses were to high to operate the business that the building finally closed its doors in the 1990’s.
It remains abandoned to this day due to local authorities’ inability to find funding and to launch a rescue and restore operation.
The Prinkipo Greek Orphanage, Princes’ Islands, Turkey
The Prinkipo Greek Orphanage is considered the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world. Located on Prinkipo, on the Princes’ Islands off the coast of Istanbul, it was built in 1899 to the design of French architect Alexandre Vallaury. The timber framed structure features elaborately decorated wooden columns in the grand hall and panelled ceilings with decorative mouldings. The building functioned as an orphanage until its closure in 1964. Since then, the neglected structure has deteriorated. Damaged by a fire in 1980, today the building is exposed to adverse weather conditions. Sections of the roof and corner posts have already fallen and the Orphanage is now at immediate risk of further collapse.
Grimsby Ice Factory, United Kingdom
The Grimsby Ice Factory is thought to be the oldest ice factory in the United Kingdom. The Factory dates from 1900 and is a substantial Grade II* listed red brick industrial building. The site is arguably the most prominent physical reminder of Grimsby’s fishing and maritime heritage, the largest fishing port in the world in the early 20th century. The Factory has been in a state of serious decline since its closure in 1990. The roof is now severely damaged allowing water into the interiors, and much of its metal work and electrical fittings have been stolen. Moreover, there have been threats of demolition. The Factory has remained in private ownership. A mixed use development proposal initiated by the Great Grimsby Ice Factory Trust, estimated to potentially create upwards of 125 jobs, has so far been unsuccessful in securing funding, resulting in the future of the Ice Factory remaining uncertain.
Some sites or places mentioned in this list are open to the public; if you are passionate about adventure, it would be great to plan a visit to one of these sites, because if action is not taken by government or organizations, maybe they can disappear soon. Check with a travel agency if you can book a trip and enjoy history.