1.         Mount Athos (Greece) (C/N 454)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iv)(v)(vi)(vii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/454/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/454/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/454/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

The Greek authorities provided a report dated 31 January 2005 on efforts to address the fire damage.  This report documented the scale of the destruction (exceeding 10,000 sq m of lost surface) and the restoration funds necessary (about 30,000,000 Euros).  The report also describes immediate efforts to mitigate the fire damage by protective fencing, and photogrammetric documentation to help estimate the extent of the damage.  Consolidation and shelter works totalling approximately 1,000,000 Euro have been carried out through the end of the winter 2004-2005.   Further consolidation and cleaning operations are planned in 2005 to permit the beginning of restoration in 2006.  Anticipated works are being guided by the competent authorities of the Centre of Preservation of the Holy Mount (Mount Athos) Heritage (KEDAK), the 10th Ephorate of Byzantine and post-Byzantine antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, and an advisory committee of scientists of international reputation set up to guide post-fire decision-making.  ICOMOS noted that the responsible authorities in Greece and in Mount Athos have provided a rapid and carefully planned response to the fire.  It is clear that post-fire restoration activities are going to be meticulously organized and controlled. 

The funds allocated by the Greek Ministry of Culture over the next five years (1,000,000 Euros) fall far short of the funds described as necessary (30,000,000 Euros) in the letter of the Greek authorities.  It may be useful to review with the Greek authorities funding options to reduce the gap.  The Centre notes that the 1,000,000 Euros contribution is only from the budget of the Ministry of Culture, while other funds will be provided from other Greek Ministries and organizations.  ICOMOS notes that it would be useful for the Greek authorities to undertake a risk preparedness study of all 20 monasteries on the Holy Mount, in order to systematically reduce the likelihood of fire elsewhere.  Attention should also be paid in such a risk analysis exercise to seismic preparedness.   Such a risk preparedness report should be brought to the attention of the Committee. 

A number of other management problems have become evident in visits to the site by the members of ICOMOS and other organizations in recent years. Large European Union funded infrastructure projects have promoted intrusive road development projects (in a territory that has very limited vehicular traffic) and which have threatened long maintained landscape qualities  around and between monasteries. Equally EU funded restoration projects are taking place without reference to the WH values recognized at the moment of inscription, and without following normal conservation standards for documentation, investigation and analysis.

Concern has been expressed that the chestnut forest surrounding the monasteries – the last extensive forest in the Mediterranean area – is threatened by careless habits of timber extraction and increasing road building between monastic settlements.

Difficulties are recognized in bringing modern standards of management to a property whose intrinsic value depends on preserving in part its traditional ways of life and faith, which have also developed with little attention to heritage management concerns.  Furthermore, there are great differences in monasteries’ attitude. The great degree of independence accorded to individual monasteries make development of fully co-ordinated approaches to heritage management difficult and unlikely.  Nevertheless, a minimum effort to provide a common forum among the monasteries to discuss heritage issues would prove very useful in strengthening the consistency and quality of interventions to the heritage of the Holy Mount.  Such a forum could be a logical outcome of efforts already launched by ICOMOS Greece to develop in collaboration with the monks, a kind of conservation charter for Mount Athos.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies


Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.32

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.37, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, China 2004),

3. Thanks the State Party of Greece for the report provided, concerning the immediate efforts to mitigate the fire which took place on 4 March 2004 at the Hilandry Monastery within Mount Athos;

4. Congratulates the State Party for the rapid and carefully planned response to the fire damage;

5. Requests the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre complementary detailed information on consolidation, cleaning operations and restoration of the Hilandary Monastery;

6. Urges the European Union to ensure that the equipment and restoration projects, to which it contributes financially, do not affect the values of the property;

7. Also requests the State Party to undertake a risk preparedness study, including seismic preparedness, of all 20 monasteries on the Holy Mount, in order to systematically reduce the likelihood of fire elsewhere, and possibility of other threats, and to explore the development of an overall management strategy for the World Heritage property, which would address both natural and cultural values, and provide for a common framework for action among the 20 monasteries on the property;

8. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / IUCN mission, to assess the state of conservation of the property.