Picasso Mural in Norway Among Europe’s Most Threatened Heritage Sites

The Venice lagoon and the Palace of Justice in Brussels also made the list.

Y-Block, Oslo. Photo: Felix Quaedvlieg via Flickr

The European heritage organization Europa Nostra has released a shortlist of the most endangered heritage sites in Europe, and one of most significant and surprising ones is a 1969 government building in Oslo decorated with a mural by Pablo Picasso, which has been earmarked to be demolished.

The building—called Y‐block and designed by Norwegian architect Erling Viskjø in 1969—was targeted in the July 2011 terrorist attacks, causing the Norwegian cabinet to vote in favor of demolishing it due to the security threat posed by its position, over an important and busy road.

Venice Lagoon Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen, via Wikimedia Commons.

Venice lagoon
Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons.

Also on the list is the Venice lagoon, as the increased shipping traffic caused by cruise and container ships and the associated dredging of deeper channels are leading to the erosion of the seabed and threatening the existence of the huge body of water and the historic city, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.

The ancient city of Hasankeyf, Turkey. Photo: Courtesy of Hasankeyf Matters

The ancient city of Hasankeyf, Turkey.
Photo: Courtesy of Hasankeyf Matters

In Turkey, on the banks of the Tigris, the 12,000-year-old settlement of Hasankeyf is under threat from the Ilısu hydroelectric dam project, which would cause the flooding of 80 percent of the historic city if it went ahead as planned. Hasankeyf contains a stunning palette of archaeological wonders, including Neolithic caves, Roman ruins, and Medieval monuments.

Palace of Justice in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Courtesy of Patrimoine Culturel Immobilier / Onroerend Cultureel Erfgoed

Palace of Justice in Brussels.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrimoine Culturel Immobilier / Onroerend Cultureel Erfgoed.

Another shortlisted site is the Palace of Justice in Brussels, which, despite its prominent location in the center of the city, has been boarded up for the last 30 years to prevent the collapse of its roof.

When it was built in the the 19th century, the building’s iron-frame structure was celebrated as an engineering breakthrough. Today, the Palace of Justice is so derelict that city officials have been forced to rent offices in nearby buildings.

Mavisbank House, near Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Colin McLean via Flickr

Mavisbank House, near Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photo: Colin McLean via Flickr.

Other sites on the shortlist include Mavisbank, a crumbling 18th century Palladian mansion outside Edinburgh, a swing bridge in France, a convent in Spain, a 19th century coastal fortress in Estonia, and a 1930s airport in Finland.

By March 2016, the 14 shortlisted sites will be narrowed down to seven, as part of Europa Nostra’s The 7 Most Endangered program—inspired by a similar initiative by the US National Trust for Historic Preservation— and launched in 2013 with the purpose of serving “as a catalyst for action.”


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