On April 13, 2023, Europa Nostra, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Institute announced this year’s list of the 7 Most Endangered monuments and heritage sites in Europe. The 7 Most Endangered programme is Europa Nostra’s flagship programme. It mobilises public and private partners on a local, national and European level to find a viable future for threatened monuments and sites in Europe. It offers more visibility, generates additional attention and media coverage. 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of this innovative programme. The Memento Park in Budapest (HUNGARY) is among The 7 Most Endangered sites for 2023.
Opened in 1993, Memento Park, also known as the ‘Statue Park’, is a history museum, educational centre, artistic action ground and unique tourist attraction. It is the resting place of statues which used to symbolise communist ideology in the streets of Budapest from 1945 to 1989. During the change of the political system in 1989-90, the public in Eastern European communist regimes turned radically against reminders of that era. In Hungary, a unique political and societal compromise initiated the relocation of unwanted public propaganda statues. The design competition to relocate 41 artworks was won by architect Ákos Eleőd. Opened in 1993, ‘One Sentence About Tyranny’ Statue Park is Europe’s first, and until today only, propaganda statue collection within a politically neutral setting. The European significance of Memento Park emphasises the importance of democratic values by presenting political statues within an objective, artistic context – an inspired way to address a challenge faced across Europe. It has been operated and maintained by a business organisation, with support of a public benefit foundation since 2007. The operators undertake general maintenance, but income is insufficient for expert conservation.
The nomination to the 7 Most Endangered Programme 2023 was made by the Monumentum Public Benefit Foundation and endorsed by ICOMOS Hungary and the Budapest History Museum. The ambitions for Memento Park through the 7 Most Endangered Programme are to raise European awareness and informed understanding of cultural appreciation of dissonant heritage, and to provide expert support for digitalization and conservation of the artworks and the park’s future sustainability.
The rest of The 7 Most Endangered sites for 2023 on the list are: Kortrijk Railway Station, Kortrijk, BELGIUM, Partisan Memorial Cemetery, Mostar, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA, Chakvinji Fortress, Zugdidi, GEORGIA, Schwesternhaus – Sisters’ House Ensemble, former Moravian settlement in Kleinwelka, GERMANY, Cultural Landscape of Sveti Stefan, Paštrovići, MONTENEGRO and Watermills of Bistrica, Petrovac na Mlavi, SERBIA.
The Board of Europa Nostra selected the finalists from among the 11 monuments and heritage sites from eight countries previously shortlisted by the Advisory Panel of the 7 Most Endangered programme. The nominations were put forward by member organisations, associate organisations or individual members of Europa Nostra, as well as by members of the European Heritage Alliance.