It’s no wonder the historic center of Odesa, the Ukrainian port city, is now officially considered “in danger” by a United Nations agency.
UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, manages the World Heritage List of cultural sites and natural areas that are considered to have “outstanding universal value” and also meet at least one of 10 other criteria such as “represent a masterpiece of human creative genius” or “exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design.”
UNESCO also manages the List of World Heritage in Danger, which is “designed to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.”
Last week, in what was described as an “extraordinary session,” the World Heritage Committee added the historic center of Odesa and sites in Lebanon and Yemen to the World Heritage List. All three sites were also immediately added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger.
Being added to the List of World Heritage in Danger category means all three sites have access to “technical and financial international assistance” for protection.
Importantly, UNESCO’s founding convention requires all members – including Russia – “to not take any deliberate measures that directly or indirectly damage their heritage or that of another State Party to the Convention.”
While the war in Ukraine continues, “this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always surmounted global upheavals, is preserved from further destruction,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general said in a statement.
Here’s a quick look at each of the new World Heritage sites and why they are now in danger.
Odesa’s Historic Center
Located in southwest Ukraine, the port city Odesa, which is often described as “the pearl of the Black Sea,” is about 275 miles south of Kyiv and about 360 miles northeast of Bucharest, Romania.
While Odesa’s history dates to when it was the crown jewel of Russia, UNESCO explains that Odesa is “a unique example of a city” in Ukraine that combines “different cultural traditions and a harmonic architectural polyphony.”
Odesa is a “free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature, and the arts,” Azoulay said.
Rachid Karami International Fair — Tripoli
The Rachid Karameh International Fair of Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, was designed in 1962 by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and built by Lebanese engineers as part of Lebanon’s modernization policy in the 1960s.
Located on an almost 173-acre site between the historic center of Tripoli and the Al Mina port, the main building of the fair is an enormous hall shaped like a boomerang.
The site was added to the “in danger” list due to its “alarming state of conservation, the lack of financial resources for its maintenance, and the latent risk of development proposals that could affect the integrity of the complex,” UNESCO said.
Landmarks Of The Ancient Kingdom Of Saba In Marib Governorate
The seven major landmarks of the Ancient Yemenite Kingdom of Saba are what’s considered a “serial property,” which includes seven archaeological sites that “bear witness to the rich Kingdom of Saba and its architectural, aesthetic, and technological achievements from the 1st millennium BCE to the arrival of Islam around 630 CE,” according to UNESCO.
“They bear witness to the complex centralized administration of the Kingdom when it controlled much of the incense route across the Arabian Peninsula, playing a key role in the wider network of cultural exchange fostered by trade with the Mediterranean and East Africa,” UNESCO continues.
Today, the sites need protection because they lie along one of the front lines of the ongoing conflict in Yemen between rebels supported by Iran and the Saudi-led military coalition.
Be sure to also visit all of our other World Heritage Site content, including