1.         Burgos Cathedral (Spain) (C 316bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1984

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

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/316/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/316/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/316/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1994

Report prepared by ICOMOS

Burgos Cathedral, Spain (C 316)
Background

The construction of the cathedral of Santa-Maria de Burgos began in 1221 and was completed in 1567. It embodies the diverse trends of four centuries of European Gothic style. It was included in the World Heritage List in November 1984 on the basis of criteria ii, iv, and vi. At that time it was recognized that Santa-Maria de Burgos decisively influenced architecture and the visual arts .both. in Spain and Western Europe, that it was an outstanding example of an episcopal ensemble while bearing witness to the creative genius of architects and craftsmen who worked on it, and that it is inseparably linked with the history of the Reconquest and the achievement of Spanish unity.

The current position

In December 1993, on the occasion of the 17th Meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Cartagena (Colombia), it was reported that information from local and national authorities in Spain confirmed the setting up of a multidisciplinary advisory council (building committee) which had drafted a Master Plan setting out the priorities for restoration and all other work on Burgos Cathedral.

Between 1989 and 1993 the press in the region of Castille paid much attention to the future of Burgos Cathedral, protected as it is by Spanish legislation governing historic monuments since 8 April 8 1885 and by the World Heritage Convention since 2 November 1984. The combination of increased degradation of the exterior of the Cathedral and haphazard restoration campaigns initiated by the Burgos Chapter that were lacking any technical or scientific control by the Spanish Government gave rise to very heated debate on the issue. This debate was fed by the regional media, who also acted as a forum for public opinion. ICOMOS accordingly requested its Spanish National Committee to prepare a report on the situation for submission to the World Heritage Committee.

This controversy unfolded in a very tense political atmosphere owing to the coming into force of decentralization legislation, as a result of which responsibility for heritage matters was transferred from the Ministry of Culture to the regional authorities. The central government still has a role to play in the technical and scientific aspects of these matters. In order more efficiently to protect its threatened heritage, the Ministry of Culture implemented a National Plan for the Protection of Hispanic Cathedrals in 1990 with a budget of 140 million pesetas. This plan was presented to the international community during a symposium on "The conservation of European cathedrals" in Madrid. This places Spain well within current trends in European heritage. The plan sets forth the prerequisites for the implementation of priority restoration programmes for each Spanish cathedral and for the creation of an inventory of all works of art within them. It also requires all chapters, within the framework of the Iaw, to set up a multidisciplinary advisory council (building committee) which will compile the Master Plan defining the scope of future restoration campaigns. No exceptions to this rule will be tolerated and non-compliance will be sanctioned by freezing of State subsidies. The Ministry of Culture wished to have Burgos Cathedral spearhead this new policy in the field of heritage.

Two conflicts arose almost immediately. First, the Chapter of Burgos Cathedral was very reluctant to set up an advisory council until 1992. Secondly, the Regional Government of Castille and Leon refused to sign an agreement with the central government providing for the latter to finance and perform all preliminary studies preceding the actual restoration work, the financial burden of the works themselves being borne by the regional government. The disputes which arose among the various parties (Ministry of Culture, Regional Government of Castille and Leon, and the Chapter) resulted in the cancelling of subsidies and therefore the + intenance of the status quo of a building the condition of which required action in the very near term.

The Burgos Cathedral restoration issue, as it has been termed, made the front pages again in February 1992 when Antonio Mas-Guindai, Assistant General Manager for Heritage at the Culture Ministry, stated that the Cathedral of Santa Maria would be removed from the World Heritage List if the "uncontrolled restoration measures of recent years applied to this monument were to continue". At the same time, the Ministry of Culture decided to dismiss Marcos Rico Santamaria the man who had been the architect of the cathedral for 17 years.

After several years of indecision, the Chapter finally decided in April 1993 to set up a multidisciplinary advisory council, made up of representatives of the Ministry of Culture, the Castille and Leon Regional Government, the museums of Burgos, and the Humanities Department of the University of Burgos. Lena Salarlina Iglesias, Professor of Art History at the University, was made responsible for the preliminary technical studies for the restoration work. At the same time, an inquiry into the "stone disease" at the Cathedral was financed by the Iaterministerial Committee for Science and Technology in 1992. The multidisciplinary team of scientists included geologists and biologists from the Institute for the Restoration of Cultural Properties, the Regional Government of Castille and Leon, and the Universities of Salamanca and Oviedo. Rosa Maria Isbert, Professor of Geology at the University of Oviedo, was put in charge of the pilot project intended to establish standards for the study of other Spanish cathedrals. The major thrust of this programme was the search for a proper balance between the tawascape of Burgos and the conservation of the cathedral. According to Rosa Maria ïsbert, there are a number of vectors responsible for the damage to the Hontaria de la Cantera calcareous stone, the principal material used in the construction of the cathedral: air pollution, excessive humidity causing efflorescence, lichen, and fungi, and the most serious cause, a colony of bacteria.

The issues of coordinating actions and respective roles with regard to the cathedral have now been solved, paving the way for a comprehensive evaluation of the future of the cathedral and several concrete actions plans. The Ministry of Culture, the Regional Government of Castille and Leon, and the Chapter have signed an agreement for the implementation of technical specifications for emergency restoration measures. It provides for the restoration of the towers, spires, ridges, part of the altars, and the stained glass windows as well as the solving of problems caused by humidity. Roughly 14 million pesetas have been earmarked for this programme. Scaffolding is already in place. The two architects managing the site are Dionisio Hernandez Gil and Pio Garcia Escudero.

The inquiry into stone disease is being pursued at the Petrology Department of Oviedo University. A number of Hispano-Flemish paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries are also undergoing restoration. The Ministry of Culture has stated that at the present time Burgos Cathedral is the most carefully studied cathedral in all Spain.

All the other restoration measures will be implemented within the framework of the Advisory Council's Master Plan, which is currently being drafted. A preliminary study has already been carried out. The Burgos Chapter has launched an appeal to patrons of the arts in order that part of the works may be carried out more quickly (through, for example, concerts). The Banesto Foundation has made a pledge to the Chapter to fund the restoration of the interior of the Condestable's Chapel, and the Burgos Savings Bank is to back another restoration campaign. The Municipality of Burgos is further protecting the immediate environment of the cathedral by closing virtually the entire quarter to car traffic. First the Plaza Santa-Maria and the Calle de la Paloma, and now the Calle Fernand Gonzales, are open only to pedestrians.

Recommendation

ICOMOS recommends that the Bureau should congratulate the various Spanish organizations involved on resolving the impasse regarding Burgos Cathedral. At the same time, however, it should express a desire to see those components of the total project which are still under negotiation put into effect with the minimum delay.

For its part, ICOMOS will continue, through its National Committee, to monitor the progress of the project and will report further to later meetings of the World Heritage Committee and Bureau.

Durham Cathedral and Castle, United Kingdom (C 370)
Ironbridge Gorge, United Kingdom (C 371)
Studley Royal Park and Fountains Abbey, United Kingdom (C 372)
Stonehenge, Avebwy and associated sites (C 373)
Blenheim Palace, United Kingdom (C 425)
The City of Bath, United Kingdom (C 428)
Hadrian's Wall, United Kingdom (C 430)
Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church, United Kingdom (C 426)
The Tower of London, United Kingdom (C 488)
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church, United Kingdom (C496)

At the request of the Department of National Heritage, and with 50 % financial support, the UK National Committee of ICOMOS has been carrying out monitoring of the ten UK cultural inscriptions on the World Heritage List situated in England. The detailed reports are currently (June 1994) still in draft form. The full final reports and recommendations will be presented to the 18th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in December 1994.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1994

At its last session, the Bureau congratulated the various Spanish organizations involved in the actions taken for the conservation of Burgos Cathedral. At the same time, however, it expressed a desire to see those components of the total project which are still under negotiation put into effect with the minimum delay.

In August 1994, a statue fell off the facade of the cathedral and ICOMOS was requested by the World Heritage Centre to assess the state of conservation of the cathedral and make sure that preventive measures are taken.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The Committee may wish to request ICOMOS to keep the Secretariat informed of any further developments.

Decision Adopted: 18 COM IX

Burgos Cathedral (Spain)

The Committee recalled that the Bureau at its eighteenth session congratulated the various Spanish organizations involved in the actions taken for the conservation of Burgos Cathedral and that it, at the same time, expressed a desire to see those components of the total project which were still under negotiation put into effect with the minimum delay.

The Committee noted that in August 1994, a statue fell off the fa9ade of the cathedral and requested ICOMOS to continue to monitor the state of conservation of the cathedral and to report its findings to the nineteenth session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee.

 

Decision Adopted: 18 BUR VI.B

In December 1993, on the occasion of the seventeenth session of the World Heritage Committee in Cartagena, it was reported that information from local and national authorities in Spain confirmed the setting-up of a multidisciplinary advisory council (Building Committee) which had drafted a Master Plan setting out the priorities for restoration and all other work on Burgos Cathedral.

ICOMOS confirmed to the Bureau that the issue of coordinating actions and respective roles with regard to the Cathedral have now been solved. The Ministry of Culture, the Regional Government of Castille and Leon, and the Chapter of the Cathedral have signed an agreement for the implementation of emergency restoration measures. It provides for the restoration of the towers, spires, ridges, part of the altars, and the stained glass windows, as well as the solving of problems caused by humidity.

The Bureau congratulated the various Spanish organizations involved on the actions taken in the conservation of Burgos Cathedral. At the same time, however, it expressed a desire to see those components of the total project which are still under negotiation put into effect with the minimum delay.

For its part, ICOMOS informed the Bureau that it will continue, through its National Committee, to monitor the progress of the project and will report further to later meetings of the World Heritage Committee and Bureau, if needed.