Decision : 35 COM 8B.45
Cultural Properties - León Cathedral (Nicaragua)
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/8B and WHC-11/35.COM/INF.8B1,
2. Inscribes León Cathedral, Nicaragua, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv)
3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:
Constructed between 1747 and the early 19th century, León Cathedral merges a basilica rectangular layout of Spanish derivation with regional architectural proportions and features. Stylistically, the monument shows the transition from late Baroque to Neo-Classic with sober decoration.
León Cathedral exceptionally illustrates the Antigua Guatemala Baroque architectural style and, in its combination of Spanish art and regional features, shaped by the geographical environment and the groups that supported its erection, is a material expression of the formation of the Latin American society.
The application of the typical quadrangular layout of Spanish origin is outstandingly integrated with architectural features coming from both European Baroque and Neo-classical styles and Antigua Guatemalan interpretation. Among the Antigua features are the mainly horizontal proportions and the low and thick towers as a response to earthquakes, and the internal and external decoration.
Criterion (ii): León Cathedral is an outstanding example of an exchange of human values demonstrated by the different architectural influences from Spanish Art that merge in the monument, shaped by the local workmanship and the geographical and social environment. León Cathedral materially encapsulates the social, religious and artistic syncretism of the new Latin American society appearing during the 18th century.
Criterion (iv): León Cathedral constitutes an outstanding example of a regional Central American interpretation of a typology of religious building merging several architectural and stylistic sources in an ensemble featured by its unity and architectural and social significance.
León Cathedral has been properly conserved, it is intact and, although subject to repair and maintenance, has not had extensive alteration.
Authenticity is maintained by the permanence of the original plan, materials, functions, social significance and relationships with the urban setting.
Protection and management requirements
The property is adequately protected by national and municipal legislation and regulations but the protection of the buffer zone awaits the approval of the Development Municipal Plan and corresponding enforcing legal instruments. The management of the nominated property is the responsibility of a number of public and private institutions. Namely the León's Diocese, which is also the owner, the National Institute for Culture (INC), responsible for conservation and promotion of national culture, the Department of the Historic Centre of León Municipality, responsible for the protection and preservation of the historic centre and its main buildings. A Management Plan for León Cathedral was prepared and approved by the National Institute for Culture (INC 2009) but it awaits official approval from the Diocese and the Municipality and integration with a risk preparedness plan. The Development Municipal Plan, the approval of which is under finalization, is the comprehensive instrument envisaged by the State party for the development, revitalisation and management of the city. The Plan integrates all other existing plans, including the Cathedral Management Plan and the Plan for the Historic Centre of León.
4. Recommends that the State Party strengthen:
a) The implementation of the management plan of the Cathedral by all administrative stakeholders and the State Party itself,
b) The implementation of the local development plan;
5. Also recommends that the State Party submit a request for a minor modification of the boundaries of the buffer zone in order to remove the linear axis going through El Sagrario heading to Guadalupe, preserving the Calle Real axis;
6. Requests that the State Party give consideration to the following:
a) Continue to work to find ways to resolve the situation concerning street vendors who use the streets and public spaces surrounding the Cathedral for their businesses,
b) Urgently address the electrical system connection issue and the lightning system grounding issue because they are public safety issues,
c) Relocate the unsightly commercial communication tower located in front of the Cathedral,
d) Complete the Cathedral Management Plan with a section on risk preparedness.