Europe's heritage at risk from economic crisis

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The 12th-century arched doorway is about all that remains intact of the church of Saint Peter at Becerril del Campo, in the central Spanish province of Palencia.

The doors themselves are gone. The roof has largely disappeared. Water floods in and the inside is full of rubbish. "Deterioration of its nave increases daily, virtually all the baroque plasterwork and vaults having already been lost," reports the Hispania Nostra conservation group....

Traditionally, lack of maintenance was the result of an imbalance between southern Europe's vast cultural patrimony and the comparatively limited resources at the disposal of its governments. Italy has more Unesco world heritage sites than any other country and Spain is next on the list.

But now, after several decades of relative prosperity and increased funding, the area faces a new threat: governments from the Atlantic to the Aegean are slashing the budgets of their culture and heritage ministries as they struggle to rebalance their public finances and contain their debts....

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