On the verge of extinction

There are many magnificent structures on the “verge of extinction”  Let’s look at the ones that are in UNESCO’S List of World Heritage in Danger.

Jerusalem Old City

(1) OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM : No other site has spent more time on UNESCO’S List of World Heritage in Danger (since 1982).  A holy city for 3 different religions, it attracts millions of tourists with over 200 monuments, including the majestic DOME of the ROCK.  But, political tension has hardened relations between Israel and UNESCO, preventing any preservation plans for moving forward.


(2) PETRA :  It is also called ROSE CITY due to the colour of its stone.  The ancient city of Petra is Jordan’s main tourist attraction and that’s the problem : touching and rubbing hands, as well as wind and rain erosion, are eating away at the surface of the AL KHAZNEH Temple, which has receded by 1.5inches in the last century.  Camels and donkeys are also contributing to the erosion of the pathways and excess humidity may threaten the structural stability of the dry sandstone.


(3) TEUFELSBERG NSA STATION, Berlin : During the Cold War, there was a “listening station” run by the US National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the Eastern Bloc.  Today, abandoned and severely damaged, it serves as a decadent vantage point over the city and as a striking testament to Berlin’s past, as it sits on a hill built out of “war rubble”  ———— DEVIL’S MOUNTAIN.  But year after year, the degradation of the vandalized structure is becoming evident.


(4) VICTORIAN GAS HOLDERS, UK :  They’ve been out of use since the 1960s, but they are undeniably a picturesque element of British culture.  The National Grid, the entity that controls the power network in the UK, owns about 500 gas holders and has started dismantling them to sell the land to house builders.  A petition has been launched to save those in London’s BETHNEL GREEN, which date back to 1866.


(5) YEMREHANNA KRISTOS, Ethiopia :  This AKSUMITE style church is located in a cave perched on a mountain ridge at the altitude of 2,700mts, 42km from the nearest city.  This has helped its preservation, but the construction of a new road, leading to the site, and a modern wall across the entrance —— plus recent evidence of structural failure —— have earned it a spot on the 2014 Watch List of the World Monuments Fund.


(6) NAKAGIN TOWER, Tokyo :  A fine example of METABOLISM, an architectural movement, that takes inspiration from biological growth, the Nakagin Tower consists of 140 independent capsules that function as “living cells” and can be individually removed.  Completely in 1972 and now mostly “uninhabited”, it’s been under threat of demolition for nearly a decade due to its “prized real estate” and is now in desperate need of renovation.


(7) UNION TERMINAL, Cincinnati : Built in 1933, at the height of the ART DECO movement, this was a central hub for Cincinnati’s railways until 1972.  Then it became a shopping mall, before becoming converted to a museum in 1990.  But, it is in dire need of a structural makeover, and it was include in the National Trust’s 2014 list of America’s most Endangered historical places.  A campaign is on-going to gather funds for the proposed renovations.


(8) DJINGAREYBER MOSQUE, Timbuktu :  The “oldest” of the 3 Great Mosques of Timbuktu, it was attacked by Al-Qaeda-linked group ANSAR DINE in 2012, shortly after its re-appearance on UNESCO’S List of Endangered Sites.  2 tombs were destroyed, along with several shrines in the area.  This is not the only threat to the historical landmark, which is also facing problems derived from urbanization, climate change and desertification.


(9) OLD BUILDINGS OF BEIRUT :  As if decades of Civil War and bombardments weren’t enough, the remaining old buildings, of Beirut, are now under threat by property developers who are looking to create new luxury blocks on real estate, currently occupied by traditional structures.  Many have been deemed “unfit for living”, pushing residents away : less than 350 Heritage Buildings now remain.


(10) LIVERPOOL MARITIME MERCANTILE CITY : It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004.  It played a crucial role in the development of the British Empire and included several listed buildings over a stretch of about 4km.  The proposed construction of a $8.7billion development —- complete with a 50-storey skyscraper —- has granted the inclusion of the site in the Heritage in Danger List, as one of only two in Europe.

Berlin gas lamp

(11) BERLIN’S GAS LAMPS : No other city in the world has as many gas lamps as Berlin : There are over 40,000, but there used to be twice as many.  They’re going fast, replaced by greener and more efficient electric fixtures —— according to the World’s Monuments Fund, they’re disappearing at the rate of 1000 a year.  Heritage enthusiasts maintain that the lamps are symbolic of the city’s urban landscape and must, therefore, be preserved.


(12) POTOSI, Bolivia :  This colonial city, one of the highest in the world (4,090mts), has recently been included on UNESCO’S List of World Heritage in anger, due to five centuries of mining activity in the mountain that dominates the city —- CERRO RICO.  Rich in silver ore, the mountain has been left “porous” and “unstable”, and is now at risk of collapse, with portions of the summit already starting to crumble.


2 thoughts on “On the verge of extinction

  1. Pingback: On the verge of extinction – 2 | SPEAKZEASY

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