Armenia’s Ererouyk, Ani Pemza Among 7 Most Endangered Heritage Sites in Europe

Archeological site of Ererouyk. (Source: Europa Nostra)
Archeological site of Ererouyk. (Source: Europa Nostra)

Archeological site of Ererouyk. (Source: Europa Nostra)

YEREVAN(Public Radio of Armenia) — The Archaeological site of Ererouyk and the village of Ani Pemza in Armenia, have been named part of the 7 Most Endangered heritage sites in Europe in 2016. The remaining endangered sites include Patarei Sea Fortress in Tallinn in Estonia, Helsinki-Malmi Airport in Finland, Colbert Swing Bridge in Dieppe of France, the Kampos of Chios in Greece, the Convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Extremadura of Spain, and the Ancient city of Hasankeyf and its surroundings in Turkey.

Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage organization, and the European Investment Bank Institute (EIBI) made the announcement during a public event at the Ateneo Veneto in Venice, Italy.

These gems of Europe’s cultural heritage are in serious danger, some due to lack of resources or expertise, others due to neglect or inadequate planning. Urgent action is therefore needed. Expert missions to the sites will be arranged and feasible action plans submitted by the end of the year. “The 7 Most Endangered” has the support of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, as part of Europa Nostra’s network project “Mainstreaming Heritage.”

Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute, together with other partners and the nominators, will visit the 7 selected sites and meet with key stakeholders in the coming months. The heritage and financial experts will provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilize broad support.

The 7 Most Endangered for 2016 were selected by the Board of Europa Nostra from the 14 sites shortlisted by a panel of specialists in history, archaeology, architecture, conservation, project analysis and finance. Nominations were submitted by civil society or public bodies which form part of Europa Nostra’s vast network of member and associate organizations from all over Europe.

Ererouyk is a superb monument of Early Christian architecture, an architecture of great variety and distinction, today often subjected to neglect, if not willful destruction, in most of its original homeland around the Eastern Mediterranean. Armenian religious architecture, amongst the finest and most innovative, is well represented by Ererouyk. The monument dates back to the 6th century and lies on a rocky plateau close to the river that forms the border with Turkey, in the vicinity of the ancient capital Ani. All around the three-aisled basilica lay the remains of funerary and other relevant monuments which deserve immediate study and preservation. This is crucial for the understanding of a settlement within a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural framework during the Middle Ages, as demonstrated by relevant archaeological findings that also need to be studied and displayed.

The site is in constant danger from earthquakes, a danger increased by the condition of the monument. Yet, if preserved and well managed, it has the potential to give life to the whole region as a site that will attract visitor, with the nearby Soviet-era style village of Ani Pemza, built in 1926, serving as a potential center for cultural tourism.

The Centre of Studies and Documentation of Armenian Culture in Italy (CSDCA) submitted the nomination for ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ 2016.

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