Medieval David Gareji complex named among Europe’s most endangered sites

David Gareji is considered one of Georgia's major cultural heritage monuments. Photo: Shalva Lejava/Europa Nostra., 15 Mar 2018 - 16:31, Tbilisi,Georgia

The David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage, one of Georgia’s most cherished cultural heritage sites, has been included on a list of Europe’s seven most endangered monuments of this year, facilitating upcoming international efforts for its preservation.

The rock complex, dating back to the 6th century, has been named among "gems of Europe’s cultural heritage” by Europa Nostra, a major continent-wide heritage organisation.

Unveiled on Thursday, the list includes such European sites as several Post-Byzantine Churches in south-eastern Albania and the Buzludzha Monument that served as the Soviet-era headquarters of the Communist Party of Bulgaria.

The selection will mean visits by experts from the 7 Most Endangered program to the sites and their efforts with "key stakeholders” to "provide technical advice, identify possible sources of funding and mobilise wide support” for safeguarding the sites.

Action plans for the preservation of the landmarks are expected to be drawn up by the end of 2018.

This newest list [...] comprises rare treasures of Europe’s cultural heritage that are in danger of being lost. The local communities are deeply committed to preserving these important examples of our shared heritage but need broader European support”, said Placido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra in his announcement.

David Gareji is a complex of 22 Rock-hewn monasteries and more than 5,000 sanctuaries and cave-cells, located in Georgia’s south-east.

It is noted by Europa Nostra for its "combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields”, making it a "masterpiece of Georgian culture”.

The principal threat of "irreversible deterioration” facing the complex is coming from the disintegration of the rock formations comprising it.

The site was nominated for the Europa Nostra program by Georgian Arts and Culture Centre, and was shortlisted for the ultimate list of seven most endangered sites earlier this year.

The most endangered landmarks for 2018 were selected by the Europa Nostra board from the initial shortlist, which, on its part, was drawn up by experts in various fields including architecture, conservation and finance.

The 7 Most Endangered program was established in 2013 in collaboration between Europa Nostra the European Investment Bank Institute.

The announcement of this year’s seven most endangered monuments of historical heritage comes during the European Year of Cultural Heritage.