In Brief

Notre-Dame and Machu Picchu Join List of World’s Most Endangered Monuments

The World Monuments Watch includes 25 at-risk sites facing encroaching urbanization, political turmoil, natural disaster, and violent conflicts.

Notre Dame de Paris surrounded by restoration scaffolding (Wikimedia Commons)

The Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, Peru’s Machu Picchu, and the Gingerbread Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti are among 25 cultural heritage sites listed on the 2020 World Monuments Watch of endangered places.

The World Monuments Watch, issued every two years by the World Monuments Fund (WMF), selects endangered cultural heritage sites that retain both historical significance and contemporary social impact. The 25 sites on the list are facing various risks such as encroaching urbanization, political turmoil, natural disaster, and violent conflicts, among others.

“The 2020 World Monuments Watch includes iconic treasures like Easter Island [Rapa Nui National Park] and socially-significant sites like the San Antonio Woolworth Building, reminding us that cherished places are determined not just by their architectural value, but also by their impact on communities around the world,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, CEO of the World Monuments Fund. “These remarkable sites demand sustainable, community-led solutions that bring people together and fuse conservation with social change.”

Notre-Dame de Paris was consumed by fire in April of this year, and recovery efforts are still underway. A controversial new airport planned near Machu Picchu threatens the preservation of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The San Antonio Woolworth Building, an important site for the Civil Rights Movement in Texas — credited as the first site of a desegregated lunch counter following fruitful sit-ins — is at risk of being lost in a redevelopment plan. Other sites that need urgent help include the Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, in Benin and Togo, where conservation is needed to preserve the region’s traditional mud tower-houses and the Mam Rashan Shrine in Iraq, a Yazidi shrine destroyed by the Islamic State’s genocidal campaign against the Yazidis in 2017. 

Machu Picchu in Peru, threatened by a controversial airport (Wikimedia Commons)

The World Monuments Watch was launched in 1995, on WMF’s 30th anniversary. Since 1996, the organization has contributed more than $110 million to Watch sites. The 25 sites on 2019’s list were selected from a list of more than 250 nominations made by communities, individuals, and institutions. According to WMF, the sites at risk were determined through “a series of extensive reviews, including an independent panel of heritage experts that was responsible for the final selection.”

See the 2020 World Monuments Watch full list here:

  • Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo
  • Ontario Place, Canada
  • Rapa Nui National Park, Chile
  • Alexan Palace, Egypt
  • Notre-Dame de Paris, France
  • Tusheti National Park, Georgia
  • Gingerbread Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Historic Water Systems of the Deccan Plateau, India
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, India
  • Mam Rashan Shrine, Iraq
  • Inari-yu Bathhouse, Japan
  • Iwamatsu District, Japan
  • Canal Nacional, Mexico
  • Choijin Lama Temple, Mongolia
  • Traditional Burmese Teak Farmhouses, Myanmar
  • Chivas and Chaityas of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
  • Anarkali Bazaar, Pakistan
  • Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
  • Kindler Chapel, Pabianice Evangelical Cemetery, Poland
  • Courtyard Houses of Axerquía, Spain
  • Bennerley Viaduct, United Kingdom
  • Bears Ears National Monument, USA
  • Central Aguirre Historic District, USA
  • San Antonio Woolworth Building, USA
  • Traditional Houses in the Old Jewish Mahalla of Bukhara, Uzbekistan
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