Constanta Casino, on the list of most endangered European heritage sites (Demo)

At the opening of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, Europa Nostra, the leading heritage organisation in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute announce the 12 heritage sites shortlisted for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 by a panel of experts in various fields.

These endangered heritage landmarks from 10 European countriesare: the Historic Centre of Gjirokastra, Albania; the Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi, Albania; the Historic Centre of Vienna, Austria; the Coal Preparation Plant in Beringen, Belgium; the Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria; the Aerial Cableway Network in Chiatura, Georgia; the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, Georgia; the Castle of Sammezzano, Tuscany, Italy; the Constanta Casino, Romania; the Prehistoric Rock-Art Sites in the province of Cadiz, Spain; the Prinkipo Greek Orphanage, Princes’ Islands, Turkey; and the Grimsby Ice Factory, United Kingdom.

Some of these sites are in danger due to neglect or inadequate development, others due to a lack of resources or expertise. The final list of 7 most endangered heritage sites in Europe will be unveiled on 15 March.

Built in 1910, the Constanta Casino has become a landmark of the Black Sea shore. Daniel Renard, the Swiss Romanian architect who designed the building, opted for a lavish expression of Art Nouveau to reflect Romania’s modernisation during the reign of Carol I. Following many years of alternating commercial and state held responsibility for the building’s care, during the 2000s, the Casino was abandoned. It remains so to this day due to local authorities’ inability to find funding and to launch a rescue and restore operation. There have been several transfers of administrative rights from the Municipality of Constanța, the last of these being to the National Investments Agency within the Ministry of Development. The main danger to the building comes from the corrosion and rusting of structural metal parts. Sea storms and winds have shattered most of the windows facing the sea. It is very likely that the roof will collapse if this process continues. The nomination for the 7 Most Endangered programme 2018 was submitted by the ARCHÉ Association.

The 12 monuments and sites were selected while taking into account their outstanding heritage and cultural value as well as the imminent danger that they are facing. The engagement of local communities and the commitment of public and private stakeholders to saving these sites were also considered crucial. Another main criterion was the potential of these sites to act as a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development.

2018 is the year to celebrate Europe’s unique cultural heritage and to highlight its key role in promoting our common identity and building a more inclusive Europe. Raising awareness and mobilising widespread efforts to save endangered heritage sites across Europe is another objective of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. What better occasion for Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute to implement a new edition of the 7 Most Endangered programme, with the support of the EU Creative Europe programme,” stated Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra. “This shortlist is, first and foremost, a call to action. We urge public and private stakeholders at local, national and European levels to join forces to rescue the heritage gems which tell our shared story and which must be saved for future generations,” he added.

“Saving these 12 sites will not only benefit the cultural heritage monuments alone. The investment will also generate socio-economic benefits at the local, regional and national levels”, said Francisco de Paula Coelho, Dean of the European Investment Bank Institute. “Well prepared and well implemented investment in cultural heritage pays off in terms of social, economic and cultural development, and it is important to spread this message during the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018”, he added.

The 7 Most Endangered programme was launched in January 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as founding partner and the Council of Europe Development Bank as associated partner. It was inspired by a successful similar project run by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 7 Most Endangered is not a funding programme. Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for action and to promote “the power of example”. It has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, as part of Europa Nostra’s network project ‘Sharing Heritage – Sharing Values’.

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