Just because something is really old, doesn’t mean it’ll be around forever. As time passes, centuries of urbanization, pollution, erosion, and tourism take a heavy toll on iconic landmarks around the globe. Despite the work of organizations like UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and The Global Heritage Fund to protect these areas, factors such as lack of funding and complicated international law can slow the process down.
So, before they’re swept away by time, here are seven renowned (and threatened) historical sites for you to visit. Of course, rampant tourism is another major factor for the increasingly rapid deterioration of many of these landmarks — but perhaps by visiting, you’ll be inspired to take up the conservation cause.
One of the most romantically inspiring cities on Earth, it’s thought that Venice was settled as early as 300 B.C.E by refugees fleeing Germanic and Hun invasions. By the Middle Ages, it was a major maritime power and a primary hub for planning The Crusades, as well as a center for international commerce.
However, being a city constructed on a series of small islands in northern Italy, it has been under threat of flooding for pretty much the entirety of its existence. After centuries of development and habitation, the city is now sinking at a rate of one-to-two millimeters annually. That isn’t enough to qualify for a formal state of emergency, but Prime Minister Berlusconi has implemented The MOSE Project — designed to prevent any further damage caused by high tides.
Little Green Street – London, England
A remarkably tiny street in the Kentish Town neighborhood of London, this 12-foot wide lane hasn’t changed much since it was built in the 1780s. With only a few houses on each side, the street gained pop culture notoriety for not only inspiring the song “Dead End Street” by The Kinks, but serving as the backdrop to their music video (embedded above).
For the last few years, some vacant land at one end of Kentish Town has been for sale, leaving locals up in arms over what potential development might mean for their historic 18th century landmark. A recent takeover of the land has assured the impact of their revised plans will have a “minimum impact” on the street and community at large — but it’s tough to say for certain what the future holds.