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The 25 Most Endangered Monuments and Cultural Sites

Parks, buildings and cultural sites in Brazil, China, Egypt and the U.S. are deteriorating because of climate change and unsustainable tourism.


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a desert scene with ruins in the foreground

The Great Temple of Abydos, Egypt.  Photo by World Monuments Fund

An organization devoted to safeguarding endangered monuments and cultural sites has identified 25 places around the world threatened by climate change, imbalanced tourism and underrepresentation in government affairs.

The World Monuments Fund’s panels of international heritage experts chose the candidates for its biennial list from 225 sites nominated by local advocacy groups. Once selected, the WMF works with those local groups to plan advocacy and conservation efforts. Since its creation in 1996 with founding sponsor American Express Co., the WMF has donated over $110 million toward preservation projects at more than 300 watch sites, according to a WMF press release.

2022’s list includes sites in 24 countries spanning 6 continents. Several are located in regions recovering from crises, such as the heritage buildings of Beirut, where a devastating blast in 2020 damaged hundreds of buildings within the historic downtown district, and Benghazi’s city center, where a civil war raged for the better half of the last decade. The WMF worked with Libyan Department of Antiquities and Libya’s Historic Cities Authority to assess the damage inflicted on cultural sites in Benghazi as part of the fund's effort to ensure that residents inhabit a livable city with adequate infrastructure and services.

“We urge the world to stand with communities and save these places of extraordinary cultural significance,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, president and chief executive officer of the WMF. “Heritage sites are an incredible resource for addressing larger issues facing society as well as local needs of recognition, access, participation and economic opportunity.”


The Boustani Palace, an Ottoman-era mansion on Armenia Street in Beirut. Source: World Monuments Fund

Other sites like the Fortified Manors of Yongtai in China and the Abydos Temple in Egypt were chosen because they represent untapped opportunities for sustainable tourism. At Teotihuacan, an iconic archaeological park in Mexico, nearby residents are excluded from the economic benefit provided by a thriving tourism industry, the WMF said. An airport recently opened 15 miles from Teotihuacan, which has led to increased tourism-induced deterioration.


The Fortified Manors of Yongtai, China. Source: World Monuments Fund

The WMF is also calling attention to sites that are at risk of coastal flooding and climate-induced water scarcity. The Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, an extensive system of historic water distribution points and underground channels, was included on the 2022 list in an effort to ensure that these local communities have reliable access to clean water down the road. And the inclusion of the Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery in Maldives serves as a warning about the fate of coastal heritage sites that are at risk of experiencing flooding and other increasingly frequent severe weather events.


A woman draws water from the Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Source: World Monuments Fund

Here is the full 2022 World Monuments Watch list:

  • Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home, Australia 


The Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home has become overgrown. Source: World Monuments Fund

  • Mosque City of Bagerhat, Bangladesh
  • Cultural Landscape of the Bunong People, Cambodia 
  • Fortified Manors of Yongtai, China
  • Sumba Island, Indonesia
  • Heritage Buildings of Beirut, Lebanon 
  • Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal 
  • Tomb of Jahangir Lahore, Pakistan 


Tomb of Jahangir, Pakistan. Source: World Monuments Fund

  • Nuri, Sudan
  • Hurst Castle Hampshire, U.K.
  • Lamanai Indian Church Village, Belize 
  • La Maison du Peuple, Burkina Faso 
  • Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery, Maldives
  • Benghazi Historic City Center, Libya
  • Teotihuacan, Mexico 
  • Tiretta Bazaar, India 


Inside the richly decorated Nam Soon Temple, India. Source: World Monuments Fund

  • Asante Traditional Buildings, Ghana
  • Abydos, Egypt 
  • Alcântara and Rocha do Conde de Óbidos Marine Stations (Almada Negreiros Murals), Portugal
  • Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape, Peru 
  • Fabric Synagogue and Jewish Heritage of Timișoara, Romania 
  • Monte Alegre State Park, Brazil 
  • Africatown, Alabama, U.S.
  • Garcia Pasture, Texas, U.S. 


Yuccas in Garcia Pasture, Brownsville, Texas. Source: World Monuments Fund

  • Soqotra Archipelago, Yemen

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This post originally appeared on CityLab and was published March 1, 2022. This article is republished here with permission.

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