Chiatura cableway, David Gareji complex shortlisted among Europe’s most endangered sites

  • First built in 1913, the Chiatura cableway network serves industrial work in the western Georgian city. Photo: Nikoloz Mchedlidze/Europa Nostra., 16 Jan 2018 - 17:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

Two historical monuments in Georgia, the Chiatura cable car system and David Gareji monastery complex, have been announced among endangered sites throughout Europe by Europe’s major cultural heritage organisation.

The two monuments were announced by Europa Nostra in a shortlist of 12 sites in Europe that have been placed in danger due to neglect or a lack of resources.

The selection presents an opportunity for Georgia’s cultural agencies to find international partners for financial support in preserving the sites.

Nikoloz Antidze, General Director of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, told Imedi TV the shortlisting was "a chance to see an international army of specialists become involved in saving them”.

If selected for the final list of seven most endangered sites, the two monuments will also become subject to rehabilitation efforts involving recommendations by Europa Nostra experts.

Revealed at the opening of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in the Hague on Tuesday, the selection falls within Europa Nostra’s 7 Most Endangered program of this year.

Located in Georgia’s south-east, the David Gareji monastery complex is facing deterioration due to disintegration of stone formations. Photo: Shalva Lejava/Europa Nostra.

Shortlisted by experts from various fields, the two monuments from Georgia have been chosen for the shortlist alongside sites in countries including Albania, Belgium and Turkey.

The (Chiatura cable car) network [...] is striking in its diversity of architectural styles and engineering solutions. The absolute majority of cableways retain their original architectural and technological components”, said the profile for the site in the selection.

Experts from Europa Nostra said the cableway, located in the city of western Georgia’s Imereti province, has deteriorated over the years, with some cars put out of operation.

Serving industrial activity in the mining city, the cableway has also recently featured on popular media, notably in the award-winning documentary City of the Sun.

A sight overlooking Chiatura from the hilltop point of its cableway system. Photo: Nikoloz Mchedlidze/Europa Nostra.

The shortlist also featured a summary for the David Gareji site, stressing its historical and cultural importance.

The combination of rock architecture, medieval murals, prehistoric archaeology and paleontological fields makes the entire ensemble a masterpiece of Georgian culture. It is registered as a Monument of National Importance”, said its summary.

The profile of the site, found in south-east Georgia, said the principal threat of "irreversible deterioration” facing the complex was coming from the disintegration of the rock formations comprising it.

The David Gareji complex was nominated for the Europa Nostra program by Georgian Arts and Culture Centre, while the Chiatura monument was submitted by the Ministry of Culture of Georgia.

The final list of Europe’s most endangered heritage sites will be unveiled by Europa Nostra on March 15.