CULTURE
Two Georgian heritage sites among 12 most endangered places in Europe
17 January, 2018
The heritage organization Europa Nostra named 12 European heritage sites shortlisted for the “7 Most Endangered Programme” 2018.

According to Europa Nostra, monuments and heritage sites all over Europe are in danger due to lack of resources or expertise, to neglect or inadequate planning. The aim of the programme is to find a sustainable future for these important sites by mobilizing public and private partners.

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The endangered heritage landmarks are located in 10 European countries. (Photos: Europa Nostra)

For this
year’s programme, 12 monuments and sites were selected by a panel of experts in various fields. They took into account their outstanding heritage and cultural value as well as the imminent danger that they are facing. According to a press release, “the engagement of local communities and the commitment of public and private stakeholders to saving these sites were also considered crucial”.

Endangered heritage all over Europe

12 endangered heritage landmarks from 10 European countries were selected, among them sites in Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Two sites were selected in Georgia: the Aerial Cableway Network in Chiatura and the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage in Eastern Georgia.

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Chiatura, passenger cableway Mgvimevi (1971). (Photo: Nikoloz Mchedlidze)

Cableway Network in Chiatura

The Aerial Cableway Network in Chiatura is composed of 18 passenger and 27 cargo cableways and was built in 1913 because of the booming manganese mining industry. It was among other things selected for its striking diversity of architectural styles and engineering solutions: “The absolute majority of cableways retain their original architectural and technological components. The “Perevisa-Town” cableway and various buildings are listed as historic monuments”, the press release states.

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Chiatura. The central “three line” station (1967) is demolished. (Photo: Nikoloz Mchedlidze)

However, as the experts explain, only few of the cargo cableways function today. “Due to the lack of maintenance, many of the passenger cableways have deteriorated and have been closed down.” According to the experts, the industrial heritage benefits from the support of local and national institutions but seems to be lacking national funding. This threatens the future for the cableway network.

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Chiatura, view on the Perevisa plateau and the upper station of the passenger cableway Town-Perevisa. (Photo: Nikoloz Mchedlidze)

Monastery complex in Kakheti

The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage date back to the 6th century. The 22 rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5'000 sanctuaries and cave-cells are located on the semi-desert Iori plateau in Eastern Georgia and partly extend into Azerbaijan. “The combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields makes the entire ensemble a masterpiece of Georgian culture”, the experts state.

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Kakheti, Lavra Monastery, 6th-18th century. (Photo: Shalva Lejava)

The press release further explains that even though the site is registered as a Monument of National Importance, the monastery complex faces the threat of irreversible deterioration: “The main problem is the disintegration of the rocks. The churches and other spaces suffer extreme structural damage. The collapse of the structures also threatens the wall paintings.”

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Kakheti, Sabereebi Monastery, 10th century. (Photo: Shalva Lejava)

The monastery complex is under the ownership of the Patriarchate of Georgia and still serves as an active monastic center with daily services. According to the experts, this adds to its importance and underlines the urgency of its preservation. “Increased tourism to the site presents an opportunity but its sustainability needs to be addressed.” The nomination for the programme of the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage was submitted by the Georgian Arts and Culture Center.

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Kakheti, Refectory in Udabno Monastery, 11th -13th century. (Photo: Shalva Lejava)

Final list to be unveiled in spring

The final list of the 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe will be announced on 15 March. “This shortlist is, first and foremost, a call to action”, Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra, said. “We urge public and private stakeholders at local, national and European levels to join forces to rescue the heritage gems which tell our shared story and which must be saved for future generations.”

The programme was launched by Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute in 2013. According to their team, it is not a funding programme. “Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for action and to promote “the power of example”.”

See the full list of the shortlisted heritage sites here.

Related stories:

Forgotten town - Georgia’s oldest cable cars in Chiatura

Georgian professor about 400 years old copper utensils found in David Gareji Complex


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