Saturday, 11 January 2014

Heritage under threat

The city of Venice is under threat from huge cruise ships which pass through the lagoon, says a recent report. — AFP photo

The city of Venice is under threat from huge cruise ships which pass through the lagoon, says a recent report. — AFP photo

Syrian culture and the city of Venice are on an endangered list.

SYRIAN heritage in its entirety, the city of Venice and the Gateway Arch in Missouri are among a few of the international sites and landmarks that are at risk of becoming lost or damaged due to environmental, social or political impacts, says a heritage group.

According to the World Monuments Fund’s (WMF) latest report, conflict and escalating violence in war-torn Syria are jeopardising the very existence of the country’s cultural heritage, a finding that has prompted researchers to place the entire nation on their 2014 World Monuments Watch list (

The group’s biennially released report placed 67 international sites and monuments from 41 countries on its endangered list.

Likewise, Venice, Italy, risks becoming a cautionary tale on the hazards of valuing money over heritage, researchers say. Over the last decade, large-scale cruise tourism has pushed the city to its environmental tipping point, the report warns.

In the last five years alone, cruise tourism has increased 400% in the historic city, bringing up to 20,000 visitors a day. But experts have long warned that the impact of huge vessels passing through Venetian ports is resulting in the weakening of the lagoon’s foundations, damage to sites of historical and architectural importance, and atmospheric and marine pollution.

Proponents, however, say the booming cruise tourism industry has helped create hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy.

“These sites – and countless others like them – recount our human history and highlight our achievements,” said WMF president Bonnie Burnham.

“It takes vigilance to keep them active in the world. Yet, it is often the case that the very places that provide rich character and texture to our lives need more assistance and attention than they are given.”

In Yangon, Myanmar, meanwhile, a sudden headlong rush to develop the city is resulting in the demolition of century-old buildings and historic landmarks, the report warns, thereby destroying the “aura of the colonial city centre”.

And in the United States, a general decrease in government funding for national monuments along with encroaching corrosion are jeopardising the fate of landmarks, like the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also known as the Gateway Arch in Missouri. – AFP Relaxnews

Tags / Keywords: Travel , Lifestyle , Venice , tourism , threat , environmental , endangered list


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