The ancient city of Herat, Afghanistan, was among 93 sites listed as at risk in the "2010 Watch" issued by the World Monuments Fund on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The sites range from Peru's iconic Machu Picchu to lesser known areas shown here.
In Herat, historic homes like this one are being restored, creating jobs as well as tourism, but the fund noted that "the most significant challenge...is unchecked development, made possible by the lack of urban heritage policy and infrastructure investment."
WMF President Bonnie Burnham noted that "the 2010 Watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship."
Traditional townhouses called machiya, dating as far back as the early 1600s, have been used in Japan as homes but also businesses. "These houses are being torn down and replaced with new, denser construction, diminishing the architectural and cultural history of the Kyoto cityscape and traditional way of life," the World Monuments Fund said.
WMF President Bonnie Burnham noted that “the sites on the 2010 Watch list make a dramatic case for the need to bring together a variety of sectors — economic, environmental, heritage preservation, and social — when we are making plans that will affect us all. Greater cooperation among these sectors would benefit humanity today, while ensuring our place as stewards of the Earth for the next generation."
Some 300 megalithic blocks used to create burial chambers known as dolmens 5,000 years ago rest in the lower foothills of the Jordan Valley. "Dolmen sites throughout Jordan are being lost at an alarming rate, and the unparalleled landscape of Damiya is now threatened by developmental pressures from quarrying operations," the World Monuments Funds said. A backhoe is seen in this photo mining in one dolmen area.
"Comprising products of individual imaginations, testaments to faith, and masterpieces of civil engineering, among other types of creations, the sites on the 2010 Watch are irreplaceable monuments to human culture," the World Monuments Fund said.
160 of the 250 original fortified churches of southern Transylvania survive as testaments to the struggle for against Tartar and later Turkish attacks between the 12th and 14th centuries. "Emigration of Transylvanian Saxons within the last 20 years has transformed the region and contributed to the degradation of many of these churches," the World Monuments Fund said. "Insufficient funding, abandonment, and neglect have allowed the roofs, walls, and foundations to fall into disrepair."
The 300-year-old Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign stands above Podolsk, a Russian industrial city just south of Moscow. "Marginalized under Russian government reforms in the 1930s and subsequently closed, the church had fallen into heavy disrepair in the last 80 years," the World Monuments Fund said. "When it was finally returned to the local community in the early 1990s, extensive ground and atmospheric water damage had already exacted a heavy toll."
The Wamala King’s tombs are one of only two such tomb complexes left in Uganda. It remains a very important site for traditional religious practices hosted by the royal Kabaka family. "The descendants of the kings continue to provide occasional maintenance at the site, but their efforts have not been sufficient to rethatch the roofs of the tombs as frequently as necessary," the World Monuments Fund said.
The first fortifications in central Uzbekistan's desert began to appear in the 7th century B.C., crafted from mud brick, cob, and pakhsa.
"The façades of the castles and fortifications have softened through centuries of exposure to wind and other natural elements," the World Monuments Fund said. "Today, cotton cultivation has salinized the soil surrounding the structures, eating away at the foundations and compounding the deterioration left by time and the environment."
Only a few walls remain of this 13th-century monastery and two churches for St. Peter and St. Paul, but they depict an elaborate narrative of the site -- including two full-length 14th-century reliefs of apostles Peter and Paul that flank a portal seen here. The monastery endured invasions and an earthquake but is now "in dire condition," the World Monuments Fund said.
This region saw one of the bloodiest and longest wars waged by Rome, known as the Celtiberian Wars. The local Celtiberians were overtaken by Roman legions between 153 and 133 B.C. that built seven encampments connected by a 5.5-mile-long wall. That structure is still visible today, along with the nearly intact countryside that the Celtiberians beheld during those years.
"However, plans to construct an industrial park, an urban complex, and a housing development will irreversibly alter this highly significant yet undervalued landscape," the World Monuments Fund said. Reconstruction of a Celtiberian house
Begun in 1882 by architect Antoni Gaudí, this church is threatened by a planned train tunnel that would run right below a still-to-be-completed façade, with protective pylons six feet from the façade foundations. "Given the proximity of the pylons, the tremendous weight of this portion of the church, the future structural settlement of the completed façade, and the vibrations caused by the train and its construction, there are concerns about whether Sagrada Família will be adequately protected from potential damage." the World Monuments Fund said. Temple supporters have suggested rerouting the train line.
The area in and around Hadley, Mass., boasts a 350-year history of continuous, "open field" farming on land along the Connecticut River. "A floodplain zone protects a portion of the 350-acre Great Meadow" used by locals, "but 165 acres are zoned for residential and commercial use, providing no long-term protection for the historic landscape and land use," the World Monuments Fund said.
Closed since 1992, the Miami Marine Stadium sits above the waters of Biscayne Bay after hosting years of boat races, concerts, political rallies and even religious services. The stadium has received "little maintenance or protection from vandalism and decay and has been threatened by demolition on several occasions," the World Monuments Fund said. "Recent historic designation and revisions to the City’s plan for the stadium and its environs have greatly improved the outlook for the structure. Yet, as long as the site remains vacant, this beloved landmark is at risk."
This cave is one of just a handful worldwide with evidence of human occupation nearly 2 million years old. The rock paintings seen here had been covered by graffiti but were cleaned up in 1993. "Partial erosion and threats of imminent collapse in certain areas have forced the cave to be closed to visitors," the World Monuments Fund said. "Additionally, continued research into the geology and archaeology of the site has not only slowed, but is severely threatened by the prospect of collapse."