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25 of the world’s most endangered places

At Notre-Dame de Paris in France, the threats to a world-famous cathedral come from the damage caused during a fire.

At Bears Ears National Monument in the United States, supporters say threats come from a federal government plan that reduced the size of the protected lands sacred to Native American people.

The construction of a new airport in Peru’s Cusco region near Machu Picchu threatens the preservation of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The World Monuments Fund added 25 culturally important sites to its 2020 World Monuments Watch list of threatened heritage sites with historical significance. The list is updated every other year.

“We often take our most treasured heritage sites for granted,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, the fund’s CEO. “Sometimes it’s not until they are put at risk that we realize the importance they have in constructing our identities as individuals, communities, or citizens of a country.”

The 25 sites, which were chosen from a list of more than 250 nominations, join a list of 836 watch members recognized since 1996. Their supporters will compete for a total of $1 million in conservation funds provided by American Express, a founding sponsor.

They can also qualify for money from the World Monuments Fund and other sources. Since 1996, the fund has given more than $110 million to Watch sites, while other funders have donated nearly $300 million.

Threats to a Woolworth building

Other monuments on the 2020 Watch list include Mam Rashan Shrine in Iraq, a Yazidi shrine destroyed during a genocidal campaign; threats to the significant rock carvings on Easter Island at Rapa Nui National Park in Chile; and the San Antonio Woolworth Building in United States, a significant site of the African American Civil Rights Movement in Texas, which is being threatened by a redevelopment plan.

“The San Antonio Woolworth Building, for example, was one of the first places to peacefully integrate its lunch counter during the Civil Rights Movement, but today that memory has faded,” said de Montlaur.

Almost $500 million for preservation

Founded in 1965, the World Monuments Fund has sponsored more than 600 projects in 90 countries around the world. The World Monuments Watch was launched in 1995, the fund’s 30th anniversary, to identify and provide support for significant sites threatened by natural disasters, violent conflict, growing political turmoil or growing urbanization.

The fund is part of a worldwide community of organizations working to save, preserve and restore human-made and natural sites of cultural and historical significance, including the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger and the US-based National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

2020 World Monuments Watch List (in alphabetical order by country)

1. Koutammakou, Land of the Batammariba, Benin and Togo

2. Ontario Place, Canada

3. Rapa Nui National Park, Chile

4. Alexan Palace, Egypt

5. Notre-Dame de Paris, France

6. Tusheti National Park, Georgia

7. Gingerbread Neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti

8. Historic Water Systems of the Deccan Plateau, India

9. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium, India

10. Mam Rashan Shrine, Iraq

11. Inari-yu Bathhouse, Japan

12. Iwamatsu District, Japan

13. Canal Nacional, Mexico

14. Choijin Lama Temple, Mongolia

15. Traditional Burmese Teak Farmhouses, Myanmar

16. Chivas and Chaityas of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

17. Anarkali Bazaar, Pakistan

18. Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

19. Kindler Chapel, Pabianice Evangelical Cemetery, Poland

20. Courtyard Houses of Axerquía, Spain

21. Bennerley Viaduct, United Kingdom

22. Bears Ears National Monument, USA

23. Central Aguirre Historic District, USA

24. San Antonio Woolworth Building, USA

25. Traditional Houses in the Old Jewish Mahalla of Bukhara, Uzbekistan

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