Georgia’s David Gareji complex among 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe
16 March, 2018
Georgia’s David Gareji complex among 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe
Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organization in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute have named the most threatened heritage sites in Europe for 2018, with Georgia’s David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage among them.

The selection also includes such European sites as the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi in Albania, the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria, the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, the Constanta Casino in Romania, the Prinkipo Greek Orphanage on Princes’ Islands in Turkey, and the Grimsby
Ice Factory in the United Kingdom.

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Experts from the 7 Most Endangered program will visit the endangered sites to provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilize wide support for safeguarding the sites.
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David Gareji

Action plans for the preservation of the landmarks are expected to be drawn up by the end of 2018.

“Experts from Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, together with other partners and the nominators, will visit the 7 selected sites and meet with key stakeholders in the coming months,” reads the official website of Europa Nostra.



David Gareji is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia, on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareji, some 60–70 km southeast of Georgia's capital Tbilisi. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face.

Here is what the official website of Europa Nostra tells about Georgia’s unique cultural heritage monument:

David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, GEORGIA

“The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage are located in Eastern Georgia, on the semi-desert Iori plateau and partly extend into neighbouring Azerbaijan. Dating back to the 6th-century, the site is comprised of 22 rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5,000 sanctuaries and cave-cells. The combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields makes the entire ensemble a masterpiece of Georgian culture. It is registered as a Monument of National Importance.

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The main problem is the disintegration of the rocks

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. The monastery complex is under the ownership of the Patriarchate of Georgia. It is still an active monastic center with daily services and 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 Georgian Arts and Culture Center submitted the nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018.”

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David Gareji. Photo courtesy Sergo Edisherashvili

This new list of 7 Most Endangered was announced during the European Year of Cultural Heritage, which celebrates Europe’s shared cultural heritage – at EU, national, regional and local level – and aims to encourage Europe’s citizens to discover and engage with the cultural heritage. Previous lists were published in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
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Photo courtesy Diverse Georgia

The 7 Most Endangered for 2018 were selected by the Board of Europa Nostra from the 12 sites shortlisted by a panel of specialists in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance. Nominations were submitted by civil society or public bodies which form part of Europa Nostra’s network of member and associate organizations from all over Europe.

Maestro Plácido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, stated: “This newest list of 7 Most Endangered comprises rare treasures of Europe’s cultural heritage that are in danger of being lost. The local communities are deeply committed to preserving these important examples of our shared heritage but need broader European support. I therefore call on local, regional, national and European stakeholders, both public and private, to join forces to secure a viable future for these sites.”
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Action plans for the preservation of the landmarks are expected to be drawn up by the end of 2018

The 7 Most Endangered programme was launched in January 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as founding partner. The 7 Most Endangered is not a funding programme. Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for action and to promote “the power of example”.

Related stories:

Two Georgian heritage sites among 12 most endangered places in Europe

Davit Gareja Caves listed among World's 17 Most Wild and Beautiful Places by National Geographic

The Caves & Cave Cities of Georgia

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