Founded in 1965, WMF is the leading independent organization dedicated to saving the world's most treasured places.
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Trashigang Dzong is one of 20 monasteries that survive in the Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan. The site constitutes a key part of the country’s built heritage, having served as a regional administrative and religious center since 1659. Dzongs, or fortified monasteries, were established to offer protection to local populations from raids during a period when political and religious authority was first being consolidated within what is now Bhutan.
When an earthquake struck eastern Bhutan in 2009, wide cracks developed in the structure, leaving the monastery vulnerable to collapse. WMF partnered with local and international groups to perform emergency repairs, and the Bhutanese government provided funding to train local craftsmen in the use of earthquake-resistant restoration techniques. Today, Trashigang Dzong remains a hub for traditional cultural events, daily rituals and annual festivals.
It's #WatchWednesday, where we highlight exciting and important updates from past and current #WorldMonumentsWatch advocacy campaigns.
Today’s featured site is Pavlopetri, Greece – the world’s oldest submerged city. Just a few meters below the surface of the water lie the archaeological remains of this Bronze Age city, including traces of buildings, burial places, and streets dating back to the third millennium BC.
Pictured is a human chain by local advocates in 2014, demonstrating the need for protecting Pavlopetri from serious threats such as pollution and disturbances caused by large ships. The site was included in the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch, and for Pavlopetri’s first #WatchDay in 2016, buoys were sunk around the underwater remains, demarcating the archaeological site and protecting it from the impact of small vessels. Last month, a second Watch Day at Pavlopetri celebrated renewed interest in the site’s protection, thanks to the efforts of local advocates.
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The Little Pheasant Castle is an eighteenth-century hunting lodge located outside Dresden, Germany. The interior spaces were decorated with rare and exotic rococo finishes and materials, including straw, pearls, embroidered silk, and feathers.
From 2010 to 2013, #WMF assisted with the conservation of the castle’s interior wall coverings, prioritizing the conservation of the rarest finishes which were in need of urgent attention. The castle today serves as an ideal museum of Rococo interior decoration. Check out our stories to witness the transformation!
Balaji Ghat (distance, center) is an iconic landmark on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, that has been a sacred destination for Hindu pilgrims for centuries. Built in 1753, the site continues to serve traditional ritual functions and to define Varanasi’s urban landscape along the riverbank.
Lack of maintenance, heavy use and international tourism led to Balaji Ghat’s deterioration in recent decades. Following a major collapse in 1999, the site was placed on the 2012 #WorldMonumentsWatch. That same year, World Monuments Fund began restoration work to stabilize the structure and prevent further deterioration. With assistance from @americanexpress , the interior spaces were refurbished, and a program was implemented to establish its reuse as a cultural center for the community.
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The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, are 11 churches that were cut out of the living rock of the region some 800 years ago in an attempt to create a new Jerusalem on African soil, accessible to all Ethiopians. Today the churches are still used for daily worship and special ceremonies, receiving pilgrims and large crowds celebrating the holy days.
The churches in #Lalibela were one of the very first projects undertaken by #WMF in the 1960s, performing stabilization efforts and documenting the extraordinary structures. Our work in Lalibela continues through today; an ongoing goal of the project is to create a sustainable framework for preservation, training local personnel with the appropriate preservation techniques to ensure the awe inspiring sites are preserved into the future. Check out our stories for more on Lalibela!
The ancient city of Ephesos in Turkey, with a rich history dating back to 6,000 BC, is one of the largest and best-preserved cities from the classical period. In the last century, it has become one of the leading archaeological sites in the Mediterranean, an important destination for scholars and travelers alike.
With increased tourism, Ephesos faced great management, administrative and protective challenges. Ephesos Archaeological Site was included on the 2004 #WorldMonumentsWatch, with the aim to protect its numerous cultural, historical, artistic and natural assets. Today Ephesos utilizes its existing resources to achieve a coherent balance between the needs of both archaeologists and tourists, without compromising its historical integrity.
: Library of Celsus, built ca. 117.
Today we’re kicking off #WatchWednesday, where we’ll be highlighting exciting and important updates from past #WorldMonumentsWatch campaigns each week.
This week’s featured #WatchWednesday site is Brussels Palace of Justice from our 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch. One Europe’s most monumental buildings, the Brussels Palace of Justice has long been a victim of its enormous size and in need ground-up rehabilitation. Following its inclusion on the 2016 Watch, the Ministry of Interior announced a ten-year plan to restore the complex and return it to its original judicial function. We’re excited to share that last month, the Council of Ministers in Brussels announced the imminent appointment of a study team for the restoration of the building.
Got a favorite #WorldMonumentsWatch site? Tag us and use hashtag #WatchWednesday to let us know!
Constantin Brancusi’s monumental “Endless Column” is one of the world’s great twentieth-century sculptures. Located near Brancusi’s birthplace of Hobita, Romania, the piece is a 98-foot column of cast-iron modules threaded into a steel spine. Designed as part of an ensemble, the column was built to commemorate those who served in WWI and later considered degenerate art during the Communist era.
By the mid-1990s, the ensemble was in dire need of conservation. In 1996 and 1998, the ensemble was included on the #WorldMonumentsWatch to launch a comprehensive restoration project. Today the ensemble again serves as a historic site in Romania, a remembrance of those lost in war, and a reminder of the famous sculptor’s genius. Check out our stories to learn more about the “Endless Column!”
Founded as the “City of Kings,” Lima was laid out in 1535 according to the standard Spanish colony grid plan, superimposed on old Inca roads. An economic boom during the first half of the 20thcentury brought many urban improvements to the city, such as paved streets, public buildings and markets, but gentrification resulted in the abandonment of Lima’s historic center. Damage from numerous earthquakes added to the threat of collapse of the many already abandoned monuments and buildings.
In 2008, the Historic Center of Lima was included on the #WorldMonumentsWatch. Though preservation projects have been active here in the past decade, supported by #WMF and other various entities, conservation work in historic centers is never truly over, and the need for a permanent conservation presence is of paramount importance to the livelihood of these areas. Click the link in bio to discover ways you can help #WMF conserve heritage sites around the world.
: Catedral de Lima, Plaza Mayor de Lima
In celebration of #friendshipday, we bring you Ruta de la Amistad, or the “Route of Friendship” – a 17 kilometer route in Mexico featuring 22 large-scale sculptures commissioned for the 1968 Summer Olympics. It marks a time of optimism to celebrate ideals of international friendship and harmony. Following the end of the Olympics, the route was developed into a major highway.
Preservation of the route and its sculptures was threatened by a project to construct a second level above the existing highway. Ruta de la Amistad was included on the 2012 #WorldMonumentsWatch; inclusion helped with the restoration of two sculptures and the recovery of native vegetation species. Check out our stories to see more sculptures along Ruta de la Amistad!
: Tertulia de Gigantes, by Joop Beljon of Holland.
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The ancient city of Qalhat in Oman was one of the most important Islamic commercial hubs for Indian Ocean trade from the 11th to 16th centuries. The city is now largely an archaeological site but for one remaining structure, the mausoleum of Bibi Maryam (pictured).
Uncontrolled development and unmanaged tourism have presented challenges to the preservation of Qalhat, one of the most significant archaeological sites in the region. Excavations have confirmed the need for immediate preservation work and a conservation plan at the site. #WMF began the first phase of conservation work in 2013 and continues today.
A prominent symbol of New York City, the New York State Pavilion was built as the largest and tallest structure for the 1964 World’s Fair. Today, the structure is the only remaining element from that fair with no adaptive reuse or permanent plan.
Designed by Philip Johnson, its construction was considered a futuristic feat during its prime in the 1960s. However, by 2008, the pavilion was in decay and danger of collapsing. The site was included on the 2008 #WorldMonumentsWatch to help raise awareness about the site’s precarious condition.
Constructed over hundreds of years, Luxor Temple was the largest and most significant religious center in ancient Egypt. Today, all that remain are the spectacular ruins of this once vast complex.
Between 2001 and 2007, #WMF directed a grant for the conservation of Luxor Temple. Thousands of sandstone fragments were retrieved, consolidated and treated. As a result of this grant, entire wall scenes were reassembled after the identification and documentation process.
In the early 1990s, WMF began work with Château de Commarque, a 12th century castle complex in the Dordogne region of France that began as a simple, wooden tower. Though the castle was designated a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture in 1943, the site was abandoned in the early 17th century and was neglected for hundreds of years.
This intact castle is a true marker of French history—the grounds also include caves with walls covered in prehistoric art. Through its partnership with #WMF, the site now has a comprehensive conservation plan that has helped maintain its structural and architectural integrity.
Overlooking historic downtown Vienna, the Belvedere Palace & Gardens are one of the city’s most famous destinations. Despite popularity with both residents and tourists, the grounds became neglected and exposed to pollution and vandalism in the second half of the twentieth century.
In an attempt to draw attention to their state of disrepair, the Belvedere Palace & Gardens were included in the 1996 #WorldMonumentsWatch. Subsequently, the decision was made to restore the eighteenth century site to its original French Baroque style. In 2011, a ceremony was held to celebrate the grounds inauguration.
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One of Ghana’s most revered religious sites, Larabanga Mosque is the oldest mosque in the country. Characterized by the use of horizontal timber, pyramidal towers, buttresses, and triangular perforations over entry portals, the seventeenth century mosque is one of only eight mosques in the country built in this manner.
Previous conservation efforts and damage from the elements was cause for inclusion on the 2002 #WorldMonumentsWatch. Inclusion resulted in a more structurally sound and historically authentic building, serving the growing population of tourists and religious congregants.
Getting away this weekend? Consider a ride down Route 66, one of the most iconic American cultural landscapes, a stretch of vast landscape that tells a still-unfolding story of America.
The route was placed on the 2008 #WorldMonumentsWatch to draw attention to its complex and unique preservation challenges. Since then, WMF has supported multiple projects aimed at fostering investment in the preservation and sustainable development of the “Mother Road.”
Click link in bio to learn more about Route 66 and other WMF projects!
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The sleepy town of Rosia Montana, Romania, and its surrounding Apuseni Mountains have been mined for gold since pre-Roman antiquity. Exploitation of the land spanned over two millennia, during which a network of underground mining galleries grew to the most extensive in the Roman Empire. The town features traditional eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings and has been home to a multi-ethnic and religiously diverse community.
Rosia Montana was placed on the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch due to the threat expanded, open-pit mining plans placed on its landscape. In December 2015, the Romanian Ministry of Culture put an end to the proposed mining project and provided the site with historic monument protections.
The sixteenth century Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal, is an architectural masterpiece built as a serene place for prayer, meditation, and leisure. The monastery symbolizes the age of exploration as Portuguese explorers reached new cities around the world, and is also an important example of Portuguese late Gothic architecture.
As Portugal’s most visited monument, its 2.5 million annual visitors have caused continuous wear to the site, threatening its sustainability. WMF’s long-standing commitment to protect the monastery began in 1999 with a goal to minimize the risk of deterioration and ensure cohesive treatment of the whole site. The project is scheduled to conclude in 2022. Check out Stories to see the restoration in action!
During the historic Antarctic Exploration of 1895, famed expedition leaders and their teams set up camp at the bottom of the planet to advance scientific discovery. Over 100 years later, their site still remains.
Shifting weather patterns in #Antarctica have triggered warming and large amounts of precipitation in the area, putting the Explorer’s Heritage of Antarctica at risk. Inclusion on the #WorldMonumentsWatch in 2004, 2006, and 2008 allowed the @antarcticheritage Trust to survey and conserve the site’s huts, along with 4,500 remaining artifacts.
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World Monuments Fund was one of the first foreign missions to visit and begin work in Angkor, Cambodia, following its nearly decade-long civil war. In 1991, conservation work began at Preah Khan, a twelfth century temple complex in Angkor considered one of the most significant buildings from the ancient Khmer empire.
The Hall of Dancers within Preah Khan contains exquisite stone bas reliefs depicting dancers, consorts to divinities, royals, and those who died in valor for the kingdom.
Key to the project was the training of young Khmer conservation professionals and employment of a local workforce.
The eighteenth century Qianlong Garden in Beijing was designated a priority project by World Monuments Fund in 2004. Built by Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong as part of his retirement complex following a 60-year reign, the garden occupies almost two acres in the northeast quadrant of the Forbidden City. Four courtyards, elaborate rockeries, and 27 pavilions and structures represent some of the most significant and exquisitely designed interiors to survive relatively unchanged from imperial China.
Following the departure of the last emperor in 1924, the site fell into disrepair.
• #WMF partnered with the Palace Museum in Beijing on a comprehensive review of the entire #QianlongGarden site and developed a master plan for its conservation. Four distinct phases of work will be completed by 2019.
The ancient Dampier rock art complex in Australia was placed on the #WorldMonumentsWatch in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Look closely…for ten thousand years, Aboriginal peoples have carved images into the rock faces of the Dampier archipelago, creating a cultural record that may begin with the first settlement in Australia. A stunning range of style and subjects are featured, including the now-extinct Tasmanian tiger.
When Dampier was declared endangered by the National Trust of Australia in 2002, twenty percent of its petroglyphs had already been destroyed by industrial growth and construction.
Dampier’s Watch inclusion helped the site receive an @americanexpress grant to finance the necessary research to secure its place on Australia’s #NationalHeritageList. #WMF also recommended preservation strategies and alternate locations for industrial expansion. While local challenges remain, there is now enormous potential for archaeological research to understand the settling of Australia, climate change and other questions.
Pictured is a petroglyph of a kangaroo.
We say goodbye to #WMF Program Associate Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez as he launches @casadepueblo, a photo diary recording the restoration of an eighteenth-century house in his Spanish hometown. We’re excited to follow its progress…good luck, Alberto!
This is the story of a dilapidated eighteenth-century historic house in rural Spain, and the architect, NYC-trained preservationist, and PhD student at UC Berkeley who decided to buy it [trying] to save it from ruin. This is just the beginning and it looks like it's going to be a very long tale. Let's enjoy this journey together.
Esta es la historia de una casa del siglo XVIII en un pequeño pueblo de España, y de cómo un arquitecto, experto en conservación del patrimonio histórico y estudiante de doctorado en UC Berkeley, decidió comprarla para [tratar de] salvarla de la ruina. Esto es solo el comienzo y parece que va a ser una larga historia. Disfrutemos juntos de este viaje.
The Chug-Chug Geoglyphs represent the highest concentration of geoglyphs in the #Atacama Desert, the majority were created between 900 and 1550, with some dating as early as 1000 BC, and are found along an ancient caravan route that connected two distant oases, #Calama and #Quillagua. This barren desert—often compared to #Mars—is known to be the driest desert in the world, with areas that have not seen rainfall for centuries. Due to the nature of this #landscape, the geological and climatic conditions have been favorable, allowing the fragile #geoglyphs to remain in a good state of conservation, in some cases for thousands of years.
The #geoglyphs, figures etched on the earth created by removing the darker topsoil and exposing the lighter subsurface layer, or by accumulating material on the surface (or through a combination of both these techniques) though located in an ideal environment, are now threatened due to recent irresponsible human activities. Nearby mining activity, increase of foot and off-road vehicle traffic, and the installation of high-voltage pylons erected near, and in some cases directly over the geoglyphs, have all greatly diminished the integrity of the geoglyphs.
The site’s inclusion on the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch calls for the establishment of an archaeological park to protect, preserve, and interpret the site of the Chug-Chug. This will afford protection to the greater cultural landscape rather than solely the individual #geoglyphs, while recognizing and honoring the legacy left by the ancestors of today’s Chilean #indigenous communities.
: aerial view of the #geoglyphs
Ani Cathedral in #Turkey is the premier example of #Armenian#medieval#architecture, a central monument of the Ani #archaeological zone, and a seminal site for tracing the derivation of many #Gothic architectural motifs- an architectural style which became dominant in Western #Europe more than a century after the cathedral’s early eleventh-century construction.
The conservation state of #AniCathedral became an object of international attention in 1996, when the archaeological zone of Ani was placed on WMF’s inaugural #WorldMonumentsWatch. Field missions to #Ani were conducted in 1996 and 1998, leading to #documentation of analytic work in subsequent years. In 2009, renewed interests in undertaking #conservation work led to an agreement with the Turkish authorities to begin preliminary planning for fuller stabilization and protection of the cathedral.
Over the next several years, #WMF will work on the project with its local partner, Anadolu Kültür. The goal of future #conservationwork will be to emphasize the presentation of the monument within its #cultural#landscape, enabling the site to function as an accessible #touristdestination.
One of the most striking landmarks of the Parisian skyline, the gilded dome of L'Hôtel des Invalides is a bold, elegant symbol of the French spirit. Construction begun in 1670, conceived as a hospital and home for war veterans, to include a chapel, monuments, and museums relating to France’s military history. The #chapel#dome—the site’s most iconic feature—features an embellished exterior with gilded military trophies, and its interior and rotunda lined with allegorical paintings. #NapoleonBonaparte ’s porphyry #sarcophagus is located beneath the dome, alongside the remains of France’s many other military leaders.
On July 14, 1789, #Invalides was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the #Bastille. Many original #baroque high-relief moldings paintings on the interior of the #dome were dismantled after the raid, while other sections deteriorated over time.
In 1988, #WorldMonumentsFund became involved in its #restoration, focusing on the paintings of which earlier repairs and repainting had not aged well. The #restorationproject by #WMF undertook cleaning and consolidation, the figures were fully repainted to restore their original beauty, and the #neoclassical frames were replaced with replicas of the original baroque high-relief moldings, which had also been dismantled in 1789.
Today we remember the conservation project of #HoteldesInvalides, unveiled to the public in 1989, two-hundred years after the French Revolution. The dome’s restoration has enabled visitors to appreciate its magnificence in a state that is closer to its original character.
The Shukhov Tower, known after the name of its designer Vladimir Shukhov, is a landmark in the history of #structuralengineering. Built as a #broadcasting tower for radio, it was the site from which the first public #radio and #television signals were transmitted in #SovietRussia. In 1967, the tower was made obsolete by a larger and better equipped Ostankino tower, but it continued to serve a broadcasting function until 2002.
• #ShukhovTower suffers from corrosion, a process which was accelerated due to inappropriate repairs carried out in the 1970s. The site was included on the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch, following #architects, #preservation groups, and members of the #localcommunity rallying to protest against a plan to dismantle the tower and re-erect it at a new location.
To capitalize on the international attention brought to the #ShukhovTower by the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch, advocates organized free walking tours and film screenings to buildng support for the protection of the site.
Most recently, the site was one of the sites brought to attention during our #ModernCentury program.
#Barranco—today known as a fashionable coastal neighborhood—began as a #fishing#village. The origin of La Ermita speaks of that #maritime#heritage: according to #folklore, a group of fishermen lost at sea spotted a light ashore after praying for salvation, and when they approached the site, all they saw was a wooden cross. It was there these fishermen built a #shrine, and almost a century later, the church—the first in the village.
• #LaErmita was closed after a 1940 #earthquake damaged the #adobe masonry structure, and despite several attempts at #restoration and reconstruction, #LaErmita remained closed to the public.
• #LaErmita was included on the 2016 #WorldMonumentsWatch, with the goal to highlight the opportunity for the restoration of this emblematic site and support the municipality’s efforts for its revitalization. Time has not been kind to the church, and ongoing work following the 2016 inclusion intends to halt the building’s deterioration until a complete restoration plan can be implemented.
A hundred years ago, Yangon was one of the leading trade cities of #Asia and home to people from across the globe. Today, #Buddhist#pagodas and #monasteries stand in its historic downtown alongside over a dozen mosques, churches of various denominations, a Hindu Parsi, a Sikh temple, a Jewish synagogue, and the country’s only Armenian church. This religious heritage is complemented by the largest collection of late nineteenth and early twentieth century #colonialarchitecture Southeast Asia.
Following Myanmar’s emergence from isolation under military dictatorship and its subsequent foreign investment opportunities, a rush of development now imperils Yangon’s unique landscape.
• #Yangon was included on the 2014 #WorldMonumentsWatch, after which #WMF and the Yangon Heritage Trust organized a forum on the city that resulted in policy recommendations for sustainable development of the historic city center.
Further positive developments related to Yangon’s built heritage occurred following inclusion on the #WorldMonumentsWatch, including the termination of major construction near the #ShwedagonPagoda, the completion of an urban planning training program, and the initiation of several restoration projects. However, continued efforts are needed to protect the historic urban landscape and traditions that make Yangon unique.