PHOTOS & VIDEOS
Endangered WondersOctober 30, 2009
Desert Castles of Uzbekistan
Desert castles and forts rise from the sandy plains of Uzbekistan, a nation in central Asia. Some of the mud structures are 2,600 years old. Over the years, hundreds of forts were built to help protect farmers from invaders. Now the structures are crumbling due to centuries of exposure to wind and weather. WMF would like Uzbekistan's government to develop a plan to conserve the castles and forts, which are an important part of the nation's history.
Italy's Ghost Town
Craco, Italy, was once a busy village built on a steep hill in southern Italy. In the 1950s, parts of the town were damaged by earthquakes. Then, in 1963, a huge landslide forced Craco's 1,800 residents to leave the village for a nearby valley. It was the first time in 1,200 years that no one lived there. Craco's earthquakes stopped in the 1970s, but its residents never returned. The empty but beautiful village has become a favorite of Hollywood moviemakers. WMF says it's important to protect this one-of-a-kind ghost town.
A Market in Bahrain
The United States has its shopping malls, while many other countries have their own versions of malls—called souks. These covered buildings are an important part of life for people in many cities throughout the Middle East. The 200-year-old souk in the photo is in a city in Bahrain, a nation in the Middle East. The souk is divided into several smaller markets, but all are under one roof. Some of the original building still stands, though much of it has been changed. Today, some people are thinking about tearing down the old building and putting up a new shopping center in its place. Efforts are being made to preserve some of the ancient building.
Colonial Farming in Massachusetts
At about the same time that farmers were digging rice paddies in the Philippines, settlers in Hadley, Massachusetts, were carving out their own fields. The English Puritans, who settled in Hadley in 1659, created an "open-field" farming system covering 350 acres. The fields, which are long, narrow and unfenced pieces of land, have been in use for 350 years. WMF says the unusual shape of the fields is an excellent example of colonial farming. Today, about half of the land has been allowed for building homes and businesses. WMF wants to protect the farmland. They have put it on their list to raise awareness of this unusual example of farming from the 1600s.
Japan's Old Houses
These traditional Japanese townhouses played an important part in the history of Kyoto, Japan. Many of them were built in the 1600s. Merchants and craftspeople used them as places to live and work under a single roof. The houses, with their unusual wooden designs and clay roof tiles, are difficult and expensive to keep up. They are being replaced with modern homes and high-rise buildings at a rate of about 500 a year. WMF wants to preserve these historic homes from being torn down.