International Monuments and Sites Day


In commemorating International Monuments and Sites Day, the UIA pays homage to the cultural heritage that shapes our world. Established by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), this annual observance serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting our global heritage. It is a day to reflect on the significance of monuments and sites, not only as symbols of our history and identity but also as witnesses to the challenges and triumphs of humanity.

ICOMOS, a non-governmental organisation linked to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), shares a common mission with the UIA in promoting cultural heritage conservation and sustainable development. Together, they work to safeguard our shared cultural legacy for future generations.

This year’s theme for International Monuments and Sites Day, “Disaster and Conflict Resilient Heritage – Preparedness, Response and Recovery” from the Triennial Scientific Plan, highlights the devastating impact of disasters and conflicts on our cultural heritage. War and natural disasters have ravaged countless monuments and sites, erasing tangible links to our past and threatening our collective memory.

The Venice Charter, adopted by ICOMOS in 1964, underscores the importance of preserving monuments and safeguarding them from damage or destruction. Yet, despite these efforts, tragedies such as the Morocco earthquake in September 2023 and the Libya flood in October 2023 serve as stark reminders of the vulnerability of our cultural heritage.

The Morocco earthquake, with its tremors shaking historic cities and towns, resulted in widespread devastation. Centuries-old mosques such as 12th century Kutubiyya Mosque, palaces, and ancient ruins crumbled under the force of nature, leaving behind a trail of rubble and loss. The Mellah of Marrakech is in ruins, the historic red sandstone city wall from the capital. Similarly, the floods in Libya inundated archaeological sites and cultural landmarks, washing away centuries of history and cultural significance. The Temple of Zeus in Cyrene, which dates back to the second century AD and is larger than the Parthenon in Athens, is among the monuments with relatively minor immediate damage, but future collapses are threatened by the water circling around their foundations.

Beyond the staggering loss of human lives, these disasters inflicted irreparable damage to our cultural heritage. Priceless artifacts were lost, architectural wonders reduced to ruins, and communities left grappling with the aftermath. The destruction of monuments and sites not only robs us of our heritage but also diminishes our collective identity and sense of belonging.

As we observe International Monuments and Sites Day, let us renew our commitment to preserving and protecting our cultural heritage. Through collaboration and collective action, we can ensure that these treasures endure for generations to come, serving as a testament to the resilience and spirit of humanity.