Historic places in danger of disappearing



Slide 1 of 26: For more than 50 years, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) has been working to protect and promote our most endangered architectural and cultural treasures and has so far supported 836-plus sites in 135 countries. Every two years, the WMF takes nominations for global landmarks in urgent need of help. From Notre-Dame Cathedral to Bears Ears National Monument, these 25 extraordinary places have made the charity's 2020 Watch list...
Slide 2 of 26: Located in San Antonio, Texas, the Woolworth Building was significant in the Civil Rights Movement, since it became one of the earliest places in the US to desegregate its lunch counters. But, despite being a designated city and state antiquities landmark, the property's future remains unclear, after a local plan for it to be turned into a museum was overturned. Now potentially facing demolition, the site is on the WMF's radar, with the organization keenly encouraging the preservation of this important landmark. 
Slide 3 of 26: Aged over 2,000 years old, the Canal Nacional was initially designed to transport goods to the center of Mexico City, but it has remained neglected for years. Locals, however, have taken matters into their own hands, cleaning the seven-mile (12km) canal (now home to a thriving ecosystem), and overthrowing urban development plans that placed it in jeopardy. The WMF is also helping local communities in their fight for greater input into future plans for the important waterway.
Slide 4 of 26: Home to rugged red rocks, ancient cliff dwellings and tribal art, the Bears Ears National Monument is located in southeast Utah. It spans 315 square miles (817sq km), and is the ancestral homeland of indigenous tribes, though the precious monument has been owned by the US government since the early 20th century. In 2016, Obama promised to protect 1.35 million acres of the park, but President Trump later reduced this to just 200,000 acres, placing the wonder under threat of mining and mass development – something the WMF is keen to avoid. Check out the ancient ruins in the USA you didn't know existed.

Slide 5 of 26: Ontario Place in Toronto was designed by Eberhard Zeidler and Michael Hough and, since it opened in 1971, it has provided locals and visitors with a unique waterfront retreat in the heart of the city. Sadly, public interest in the park, which included historical exhibitions and a children's play area, slowly declined and a large section was closed in 2011. It is now threatened by redevelopment, and the WMF is calling on local authorities to preserve the landmark and open it back up for communities to enjoy.
Slide 6 of 26: This unusual stadium was designed in the 1960s during a time of radical cultural and economic change, following the partition of the State of Bombay. And, though originally built for international cricket matches, the stadium is now used as a recreational hub for locals. But following decades of neglect and poor maintenance, it's in great need of repair – the WMF is determined to help regenerate the site, while nurturing its role as an outdoor space for the local community.
Slide 7 of 26: While still an important part of culture, public bathhouses were once a fixture of Japanese daily life – but as lifestyles evolved, these former community hubs gradually faded away. Now, only 20% of Tokyo’s bathhouses remain and Inari-yu is one of the city’s best preserved examples. Dating back to 1930, it avoided damage during the Bombing of Tokyo in 1945 and is now a Registered Tangible Cultural Property. The WMF wants to help authorities preserve and update Inari-yu, in a bid to reinvent the bathhouse for modern visitors. Learn more about Tokyo with our full city guide.
Slide 8 of 26: In August 2014 ISIS devastated Sinjar in northern Iraq, attacking the area's residents and destroying many of its religious shrines. Mam Rashan was just one of them. Although ISIS is no longer in control of Sinjar, many of its residents have not returned. In a bid to support the area's communities and encourage them to return home, the WMF is funding the reconstruction of Sinjar's religious monuments.
Slide 9 of 26: Built in 1877, Bennerley Viaduct is one of only two wrought-iron viaducts left in England – but despite being considered a masterpiece of engineering, it has stood redundant since 1968 and has faced demolition numerous times. Neighboring residents now want the local council to turn the area into a nature reserve and the WMF is supporting their plans to protect this spectacular structure.

Slide 10 of 26: In Benin and Togo, close to Nigeria, the Batammariba people have been creating unique homes since the 17th century – in fact, their takienta mud houses are closely bound up with their cultural identity. Built in layers, these unique homes have been added to the World Heritage List, but this isn't enough to protect the traditions of the Batammariba tribe. The WMF is thus committed to helping the people of Koutammakou, through the conservation of their signature architecture.
Slide 11 of 26: Back in the 19th century, the Egyptian city of Asyut was a flourishing capital, where affluent families built luxurious palaces to showcase their wealth. Alexan Palace was one of them. Constructed in 1910, it remained under the ownership of the Alexan family right up until 1995, when it was acquired by the state. Today it's one of only a few palaces left in the city, and the WMF hopes to increase awareness of this kind of historic architecture by converting the landmark into a national museum.
Slide 12 of 26: In the Kathmandu Valley, you'll find Buddhist shrines, or chaityas, scattered across the landscape. Ranging in size, they were originally private monuments, erected in memory of deceased family members, but eventually became important sites for community worship. The oldest of the chaityas date right back to the 5th century but, as Nepal developed, many of these shrines were encroached upon or destroyed. Locals have now started recording the location, condition and history of each monument and the WMF is supporting their preservation efforts.
Slide 13 of 26: Sitting on stilts and formed from teak wood, bamboo and thatch, the quaint Burmese farmhouses of Myanmar represent centuries' worth of tradition. But building restrictions have meant that homes like this have all but disappeared, as locals opt instead for more modern construction methods. In an attempt to preserve the legacy of Myanmar's traditional building techniques, local academics are documenting its farmhouses and encouraging awareness of cultural identity, something the WMF is supporting. Now discover the world's landmarks under threat from climate change. 
Slide 14 of 26: For many years, the people of India have been storing and managing monsoon water, ready for the dry season. The Daulatabad fort, located in Aurangabad, is a great example of what it takes to sustain water systems for a heavily populated town – in the 1800s, some 16 reservoirs were discovered here, but now only one remains in use, and this water requires constant maintenance to ensure its cleanliness. Nevertheless, the WMF hopes that by preserving historic water systems such as this, it can help alleviate a potential water crisis for future generations.

Slide 15 of 26: The Anarkali Bazaar can be found on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, and is home to a buzzing market and historic buildings that date back to the colonial period. Gradually, the city's population has grown from one million to more than 10 million, leading to overcrowding and the neglect of the Anarkali neighborhood's historic buildings and public spaces. By including the Anarkali Bazaar on the 2020 Watch list, the WMF is championing grassroots efforts to restore this community and preserve its history and culture.
Slide 16 of 26: Every year, the Cusco region, which includes the Sacred Valley of the Incas, sees upwards of four million visitors, who mostly come to see a tangle of ruins from the Inca Empire. But while the government has long been committed to boosting the region's tourism industry, the construction of a new airport in the valley is threatening to disrupt the area's indigenous peoples, its landscape and its historical monuments. The WMF intends to help with the sustainable growth of the area, without having a detrimental effect on the valley's beauty or communities.
Slide 17 of 26: Dating back to 1907, the Kindler Chapel can be found in the Pabianice Evangelical Cemetery in the town of Pabianice, Poland. Originally built as a mausoleum for the wealthy Kindler family, the landmark was eventually turned into a chapel – but due to the deindustrialization of the area, the cemetery and the chapel ultimately fell into disrepair. These sites have since been acknowledged as a priority for regeneration, though, and the WMF is supporting efforts to restore this once-thriving area, creating important community spaces for Pabiance's residents.
Slide 18 of 26: Situated on the Silk Road, the Uzbek city of Bukhara has been home to Jewish communities for over 1,000 years. Bukharian Jews are known for their traditional crafts and in particular, their unique timber houses. But now only 200 Bukharian Jews remain in the city and their age-old architecture is under threat of disappearing. The WMF wants to document and conserve the buildings of Bukhara, in order to preserve the region's unique local culture.
Slide 19 of 26: The Iwamatsu District of Shikoku, Japan, thrived in the 17th century, when locals began brewing sake here – but, sadly, 20th century industrial developments led to the decline of the town and its commercial ventures. The WMF hopes that by preserving key monuments in the district, including the important Konishi family merchant house, they can encourage economic growth and promote sustainable tourism in the area.
Slide 20 of 26: The historic "gingerbread houses" of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, remain an important example of post-colonial building techniques and are representative of this country’s rich heritage. These beautiful buildings were already included on the WMF's 2010 and 2012 Watch lists, since their condition was deteriorating. But this year, the charity is promising to provide further funds to assist local authorities with the full restoration of these significant architectural treasures.
Slide 21 of 26: Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Córdoba, the picturesque courtyard houses of Axerquía usually attract thousands of visitors each year. But this mass influx of tourists leads to disruption for local residents and many have now left the city, abandoning their historic courtyard properties in the process. The WMF is helping locals repair the deserted courtyard houses in an attempt to give the city back to its residents and save this slice of architectural heritage.
Slide 22 of 26: Covering four valleys in eastern Georgia, the Tusheti region is home to several unique settlements, and has recently become popular with tourists in pursuit of outdoor adventures. While this increased visitation has already led to the revival of traditional building techniques, many locals are concerned that a proposed through road will encourage detrimental mass tourism. The WMF is contributing to the sustainable growth of Tusheti, while supporting the best interests of its people.
Slide 23 of 26: Finished in 1908, Choijin Lama Temple was the official seat of the guardian of Buddhist traditions – but when Communist revolutionaries overthrew the Mongolian government in the 1920s, they suppressed religious activities and destroyed more than 1,000 of the country's most important monasteries. Luckily, Choijin Lama Temple survived and was converted into a museum. However, the Arts Council of Mongolia now needs the WMF's support to further conserve this important religious site.
Slide 24 of 26: Situated in Salinas, in southern Puerto Rico, the Central Aguirre was once a thriving company town. Created for a local sugar mill and its workers, the self-sustaining district had factories, a railway, homes, churches and schools. Today, the area lies all but abandoned and few of its historic buildings remain intact. To recreate employment and economic opportunities, the WMF is pledging to fund construction training programs in order to bring this historic town back to life.
Slide 25 of 26: Dating back to 1163, Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral is among the most famous sacred buildings on the planet, and on 15 April 2019, the world watched as a fire ripped through the much-loved monument. While firefighters were able to save the building from collapse, the cathedral remains unstable to this day, after being severely weakened by the blaze. It's thought that restoration work could take more than five years, so the WMF is encouraging global support for the preservation of this iconic building. 
Slide 26 of 26: Floating in the South Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is best known for its 900 moai statues, created by the Rapa Nui people from around the 9th century to the 17th century. Also of great significance is the ceremonial village of Orongo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 – home to a series of semi-subterranean stone houses, it's considered one of the most important archaeological spots in the world. Overtourism has posed a threat to this isle in recent years, however, and the WMF – which has been working to preserve the island and its extraordinary offerings for six decades – intends to continue offering its support.

Endangered monuments around the globe

For more than 50 years, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) has been working to protect and promote our most endangered architectural and cultural treasures and has so far supported 836-plus sites in 135 countries. Every two years, the WMF takes nominations for global landmarks in urgent need of help. From Notre-Dame Cathedral to Bears Ears National Monument, these 25 extraordinary places have made the charity’s 2020 Watch list…

Woolworth Building, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Located in San Antonio, Texas, the Woolworth Building was significant in the Civil Rights Movement, since it became one of the earliest places in the US to desegregate its lunch counters. But, despite being a designated city and state antiquities landmark, the property’s future remains unclear, after a local plan for it to be turned into a museum was overturned. Now potentially facing demolition, the site is on the WMF’s radar, with the organization keenly encouraging the preservation of this important landmark. 

Canal Nacional, Mexico

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah, USA

Home to rugged red rocks, ancient cliff dwellings and tribal art, the Bears Ears National Monument is located in southeast Utah. It spans 315 square miles (817sq km), and is the ancestral homeland of indigenous tribes, though the precious monument has been owned by the US government since the early 20th century. In 2016, Obama promised to protect 1.35 million acres of the park, but President Trump later reduced this to just 200,000 acres, placing the wonder under threat of mining and mass development – something the WMF is keen to avoid. Check out the ancient ruins in the USA you didn’t know existed.

Ontario Place, Toronto, Canada

Ontario Place in Toronto was designed by Eberhard Zeidler and Michael Hough and, since it opened in 1971, it has provided locals and visitors with a unique waterfront retreat in the heart of the city. Sadly, public interest in the park, which included historical exhibitions and a children’s play area, slowly declined and a large section was closed in 2011. It is now threatened by redevelopment, and the WMF is calling on local authorities to preserve the landmark and open it back up for communities to enjoy.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad, India

Inari-yu Bathhouse, Tokyo, Japan

While still an important part of culture, public bathhouses were once a fixture of Japanese daily life – but as lifestyles evolved, these former community hubs gradually faded away. Now, only 20% of Tokyo’s bathhouses remain and Inari-yu is one of the city’s best preserved examples. Dating back to 1930, it avoided damage during the Bombing of Tokyo in 1945 and is now a Registered Tangible Cultural Property. The WMF wants to help authorities preserve and update Inari-yu, in a bid to reinvent the bathhouse for modern visitors. Learn more about Tokyo with our full city guide.

Mam Rashan Shrine, Sinjar, Iraq

In August 2014 ISIS devastated Sinjar in northern Iraq, attacking the area’s residents and destroying many of its religious shrines. Mam Rashan was just one of them. Although ISIS is no longer in control of Sinjar, many of its residents have not returned. In a bid to support the area’s communities and encourage them to return home, the WMF is funding the reconstruction of Sinjar’s religious monuments.

Bennerley Viaduct, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, UK

Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo

In Benin and Togo, close to Nigeria, the Batammariba people have been creating unique homes since the 17th century – in fact, their takienta mud houses are closely bound up with their cultural identity. Built in layers, these unique homes have been added to the World Heritage List, but this isn’t enough to protect the traditions of the Batammariba tribe. The WMF is thus committed to helping the people of Koutammakou, through the conservation of their signature architecture.

Alexan Palace, Asyut, Egypt

Chivas and chaityas, Kathmandu, Nepal

In the Kathmandu Valley, you’ll find Buddhist shrines, or chaityas, scattered across the landscape. Ranging in size, they were originally private monuments, erected in memory of deceased family members, but eventually became important sites for community worship. The oldest of the chaityas date right back to the 5th century but, as Nepal developed, many of these shrines were encroached upon or destroyed. Locals have now started recording the location, condition and history of each monument and the WMF is supporting their preservation efforts.

Traditional Burmese teak farmhouses, Myanmar

Sitting on stilts and formed from teak wood, bamboo and thatch, the quaint Burmese farmhouses of Myanmar represent centuries’ worth of tradition. But building restrictions have meant that homes like this have all but disappeared, as locals opt instead for more modern construction methods. In an attempt to preserve the legacy of Myanmar’s traditional building techniques, local academics are documenting its farmhouses and encouraging awareness of cultural identity, something the WMF is supporting. Now discover the world’s landmarks under threat from climate change. 

Historic water systems of the Deccan Plateau, India

For many years, the people of India have been storing and managing monsoon water, ready for the dry season. The Daulatabad fort, located in Aurangabad, is a great example of what it takes to sustain water systems for a heavily populated town – in the 1800s, some 16 reservoirs were discovered here, but now only one remains in use, and this water requires constant maintenance to ensure its cleanliness. Nevertheless, the WMF hopes that by preserving historic water systems such as this, it can help alleviate a potential water crisis for future generations.

Anarkali Bazaar, Lahore, Pakistan

The Anarkali Bazaar can be found on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, and is home to a buzzing market and historic buildings that date back to the colonial period. Gradually, the city’s population has grown from one million to more than 10 million, leading to overcrowding and the neglect of the Anarkali neighborhood’s historic buildings and public spaces. By including the Anarkali Bazaar on the 2020 Watch list, the WMF is championing grassroots efforts to restore this community and preserve its history and culture.

Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

Every year, the Cusco region, which includes the Sacred Valley of the Incas, sees upwards of four million visitors, who mostly come to see a tangle of ruins from the Inca Empire. But while the government has long been committed to boosting the region’s tourism industry, the construction of a new airport in the valley is threatening to disrupt the area’s indigenous peoples, its landscape and its historical monuments. The WMF intends to help with the sustainable growth of the area, without having a detrimental effect on the valley’s beauty or communities.

Kindler Chapel, Pabianice, Poland

Dating back to 1907, the Kindler Chapel can be found in the Pabianice Evangelical Cemetery in the town of Pabianice, Poland. Originally built as a mausoleum for the wealthy Kindler family, the landmark was eventually turned into a chapel – but due to the deindustrialization of the area, the cemetery and the chapel ultimately fell into disrepair. These sites have since been acknowledged as a priority for regeneration, though, and the WMF is supporting efforts to restore this once-thriving area, creating important community spaces for Pabiance’s residents.

Traditional houses in the Old Jewish Mahalla of Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Situated on the Silk Road, the Uzbek city of Bukhara has been home to Jewish communities for over 1,000 years. Bukharian Jews are known for their traditional crafts and in particular, their unique timber houses. But now only 200 Bukharian Jews remain in the city and their age-old architecture is under threat of disappearing. The WMF wants to document and conserve the buildings of Bukhara, in order to preserve the region’s unique local culture.

Iwamatsu District, Shikoku, Japan

Gingerbread neighborhood, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The historic “gingerbread houses” of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, remain an important example of post-colonial building techniques and are representative of this country’s rich heritage. These beautiful buildings were already included on the WMF’s 2010 and 2012 Watch lists, since their condition was deteriorating. But this year, the charity is promising to provide further funds to assist local authorities with the full restoration of these significant architectural treasures.

Courtyard houses of Axerquía, Córdoba, Spain

Tusheti National Park, Georgia

Choijin Lama Temple, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Central Aguirre Historic District, Salinas, Puerto Rico

Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral, France

Dating back to 1163, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral is among the most famous sacred buildings on the planet, and on 15 April 2019, the world watched as a fire ripped through the much-loved monument. While firefighters were able to save the building from collapse, the cathedral remains unstable to this day, after being severely weakened by the blaze. It’s thought that restoration work could take more than five years, so the WMF is encouraging global support for the preservation of this iconic building. 

Easter Island, Chile

Floating in the South Pacific Ocean, Easter Island is best known for its 900 moai statues, created by the Rapa Nui people from around the 9th century to the 17th century. Also of great significance is the ceremonial village of Orongo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995 – home to a series of semi-subterranean stone houses, it’s considered one of the most important archaeological spots in the world. Overtourism has posed a threat to this isle in recent years, however, and the WMF – which has been working to preserve the island and its extraordinary offerings for six decades – intends to continue offering its support.

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