Several historic areas in the ancient city of Istanbul (Turkey) are under threat of losing their World Heritage site status. Image: Seqoya/Canva

14 European World Heritage sites in danger of losing status

Uncertain times are ahead for several World Heritage sites in Europe. On 16 July, UNESCO will start its convention on the protection and listing of endangered heritage sites. The international body will discuss which spots will keep their world heritage status and which ones lose it.

UNESCO recommended a significant overhaul of its list of world heritage sites in a report released ahead of the convention. Apart from losing the prestigious title, removal from that list could decrease tourist appeal and visits, according to France24. Fourteen locations within Europe are under investigation, UNESCO stated in the report.

Future threatened

The draft document mentions several prominent European cultural heritage sites such as the Italian city of Venice and its lagoon, the historic city of Istanbul in Turkey, and the Auschwitz Birkenau Nazi concentration camp in Poland. 

The infamous gate of Auschwitz Birkenau. The concentration camp is in danger of losing its World Heritage status. Image: Gagliardi Photography/Canva

The reason for discussing these World Heritage sites or placing them on the endangered list is the problematic state of these locations. Because some spots, like Venice, cope with environmental damage and/or overtourism, the future of these sites is under threat. Another reason might be the lack of progress on earlier UNESCO recommendations to preserve the site. This is the case for Auschwitz Birkenau, as UNESCO urges the Polish government to continue “implementing the recommendations of the 2013 expert group.”

Full European list

Below is an alphabeltical list (nation based) of all the natural, mixed and cultural heritage sites in Europe that UNESCO will examine during the convention in July 2021. 

  • Natural and Cultural heritage of Ohrid region – Albania/North-Macedonia
  • Białowieża Forest – Belarus/Poland
  • Ancient Beech fortresses of the Carpathians and other European regions – Europe
  • Architectural work of Le Corbusier – Europe/India
  • Historical monuments of Mtskheta – Georgia
  • Budapest (Danube banks, castle quarter, Andrássy Avenue) – Hungary
  • Venice and its lagoon – Italy
  • Auschwitz Birkenau – Poland
  • Volcanoes of Kamchatka – Russia
  • Western Caucasus – Russia
  • Doñana National Park – Spain
  • Diyarkabir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens – Turkey
  • Historic Areas of Istanbul – Turkey
  • Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated sites – United Kingdom

But what is a UNESCO World Heritage site? Check out the short video below to learn more about its background and purpose.

Source: France24 and UNESCO

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