- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NEW YORK | Peru’s Machu Picchu ancient ruins, Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona and a New Orleans elementary school are among the cultural heritage sites threatened by neglect or overdevelopment, a preservationist group said Tuesday.

The World Monuments Fund’s watch list for 2010 includes 93 sites in 47 countries, ranging from Phajoding, a remote monastery in Bhutan, to the bridges along Connecticut’s scenic Merritt Parkway.

“The 2010 watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship and that we must work closely with local partners to create viable and appropriate opportunities to advance this,” said World Monuments Fund President Bonnie Burnham.

The monuments fund, dedicated to saving important landmarks around the world, said a new underground rail line in Barcelona will run perilously close to Gaudi’s masterpiece, which was designed as an 18-tower church telling the tale of the Holy Family and has been under construction since the 1880s.

Also threatened by new development are traditional town houses in Kyoto, Japan, called machiya, which date from the early 1600s and are considered models of their type throughout the country. The monuments fund said the town houses are being torn down, diminishing Kyoto’s cultural history.

Machu Picchu, an important Inca site and Peru’s main tourist attraction, is threatened by its high volume of visitors.

The fund said two sites in New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, have faced continuing challenges since Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the area in 2005.

U.S. sites on the watch list also include architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home Taliesin in Spring Green, Wis., and Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Anne Maley, interim CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which operates both sites, said she could not comment on their inclusion on the watch list.

The New York-based World Monuments Fund issues its watch list every two years.

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