The 7 Most Endangered for 2013 were selected by Europa Nostra’s Board from the 14 sites shortlisted by an Advisory Panel composed of international experts.
Buffer Zone in the Historic Centre of Nicosia in CYPRUS
The aftermath of the Cyprus dispute saw the creation of the Nicosia buffer zone in 1974. This area cuts through the historic centre and has disrupted the city’s cohesion for almost 40 years. Decades of abandonment have undermined the high architectural value of the buildings, among which are medieval and neoclassical monuments, and had a devastating impact on the quality of the environment and living conditions of the entire city centre. Once the focal point of crafts and trade, the heart of historic Nicosia is today a lifeless 1.5 km corridor.
Since the 1980, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities of Nicosia have worked together, with the support of the United Nations, to produce a Master Plan for the revitalisation of the buffer zone. International assistance is today needed to start its implementation by restoring, one by one, the historic buildings located in the Nicosia buffer zone.
This important Master Plan, which is a brilliant example of cultural heritage acting as a catalyst for peace and reconciliation, received a Grand Prix in category research as part of the 2011 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards programme.
In this initial year, civil society organisations and public bodies from 21 European countries submitted 40 nominations. ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ programme was launched last January, having been inspired by a successful project run by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation. The list recently announced is composed of the following heritage sites:
The Roman amphitheatre in Durrës in Albania, the buffer zone in the historic centre of Nicosia in Cyprus, Vauban’s 17th century fortifications in Briançon in France, the Renaissance monastery of San Benedetto Po in Italy, the 15th century monastery in Setúbal in Portugal, the historic mining landscape of Rosia Montana in Romania and the Armenian church of St. George in Mardin in Turkey have been selected as the 7 most threatened landmarks in Europe. The announcement was made today by the leading European heritage organisation Europa Nostra, together with the European Investment Bank Institute, at a press conference in Athens, on the eve of its 50th Anniversary Congress. These gems of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage are in danger, some due to lack of funds or expertise, others due to inadequate planning, neglect, natural disaster or even political conflict. Urgent action is therefore required.
A brilliant example of how cultural heritage can help transcend political conflicts and contribute to the process of reconciliation. Conservationists from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have worked together with the UN to produce a European Union / Europa Nostra award-winning master plan for the revitalisation of the lifeless 1.5 km corridor which crosses the historic city of Nicosia, and the time has come for the plan to be gradually implemented.
Photo: Courtesy of the Cyprus Architectural Heritage Organisation