Every two years, the World Monuments Fund publishes a “watch list” of sites it deems most threatened, whether from encroaching development, global warming, or simple neglect.
As Trips has discussed before, the continued existence of the ruins of Machu Picchu is endangered by the thousands of tourists that visit each day. Erosion of their mountaintop perch could cause sections of the ruins to collapse within the next few years.
Gaudi’s famous uncompleted cathedral faces a different kind of threat.
A proposed high-speed underground train line is planned to run just six feet from the foundation of one portion of the massive church; the vibrations from the passing trains could do considerable damage to the structure.
The monuments fund also reaches beyond big-name sites to single out places with a more local significance. The stone bridges of Connecticut’s Merritt Parkway make the list, as does New Orleans’ St. Louis Cemetery #2 — still in need of restoration following damage from Hurricane Katrina.
Breaking down the list by country, those with the most entries are the U.S. (10), Peru (8), and Spain (6).
The World Monuments Fund partners “with local communities, funders, and governments” to protect these and many other sites, directing 85% of its revenue toward “preservation projects, fieldwork, advocacy, and educational programs.” To help them out, click here.
Many of Matador’s member organizations are dedicated to cultural preservation. Browse their ranks and find out how you can lend a hand.