Published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Monuments Fund, World Monuments is a lavish new coffee table book that highlights 50 historic sites alongside compelling essays by eight experts. Established in 1965, the World Monuments Fund is one of the few private organizations working in historic preservation on a global scale. The nonprofit originally focused on Venice, Lalibela and Easter Island but has steadily grown its outreach over the years. Historic preservation efforts are more important than ever in this changing world, where ancient relics are increasingly affected by tourism, climate change, civil unrest, urbanization and a growing population.
Divided into eight chapters, the book introduces 50 historic sites around the world, from Angkor to Yaxchilan. Each chapter begins with an essay by a leading scholar. John Julius Norwich covers the effects of natural catastrophe and climate change on Venice while Anne Applebaum uses the remaining Jewish synagogues in Krakow as a framework for discussing intentional damage at the hands of war and human conflict. Other essays by luminaries including William Dalrymple and Andre Aciman address additional concerns by focusing on sites in Rome, Cairo, Agra, Cusco, Mexico City and Beijing.
World Monuments complements the thoughtful essays with informative summaries and splendid photographs that get at the heart of each historic site. While the book’s primary focus is on the importance of historic preservation efforts, it also inspires as a “bucket list for the educated traveler—armchair or otherwise.”