1.         Medina of Fez (Morocco) (C 170)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (ii)(v)

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/170/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1988-1994)
Total amount approved: USD 38,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/170/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/170/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1995

Last June, UNESCO received information and photographs to the effect that nearly one hectare of gardens and buildings had been demolished in the spring of 1995 at Amn Azliten, in the northern part of the classified perimeter of the Medina, of Fez, in order to make way for a tarmac road and the construction of a prefecture and a dispensary, and that work had already begun.

However, at the request of the Moroccan authorities, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Culture of Morocco, UNESCO organized an international seminar on "Heritage and Urbanism" which was attended by about 40 national and international experts, from 16 to 20 January 1995, in Fez. Having been informed at the outset of the meeting of the proposed road projects, and following discussions on the subject, the participants expressed grave concern and reiterated their opposition to further road projects which would entail the irremediable destruction of the social and urban fabric, and requested that innovative and global solutions be studied for the urban development, harmoniously associating the safeguarding of the cultural heritage riches of the Medina and the socio-economic development of the agglomeration as a whole.

These recommendations were seconded by the Executive Board and by the Director-General of UNESCO during the closing session of the 146th session, held in Fez on 3 and 4 June 1995. At Fez, the Executive Board also adopted the Fez Declaration which stressed the importance of conserving the cohesion of the historic urban fabric of the cities inscribed on the World Heritage List, with particular reference to the model of Fez.

By a joint letter dated 4 July, the World Heritage Centre and the Division of Cultural Heritage transmitted to the Moroccan authorities their deep concern with regard to this destruction, and requested them to provide all additional information regarding this matter.

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

The Bureau may wish recommend to the Committee to adopt the following text:

"The Committee expressed its grave concern to the national authorities of Morocco concerning the road construction projects within the World Heritage site of the Medina of Fez, which still appear to be ongoing, as well as on the demolition which has already taken place at Ain Azliten. It reminds them that too many examples throughout the world have unfortunately shown that the brutal intrusion of the automobile has had an irremediably destructive effect on the social and urban fabric of historic cities. It emphasized that the pursuance of this type of brutal urban intervention constituted grave threats to the preservation of the characteristics for which the site had been inscribed on the World Heritage List. It requested them to immediately halt all further demolition and to prepare, if necessary with the assistance of international experts, an integrated project taking into consideration the different architectural, cultural, sociological, technical and financial aspects for the urban rehabilitation, and measuring the potential impacts on the multiple aspects of World Heritage values in the Medina. Finally, it requested the national authorities to keep them informed, through its Secretariat, before 1 April 1996, of the situation and the measures undertaken to ensure the long-term preservation of the cultural heritage in all its dimensions in the Medina of Fez."

Decision Adopted: 19 COM VII.C.2.45

VII.45 Medina of Fez (Morocco)

The Committee followed with interest the Moroccan Government's efforts for the preservation of the Medina of Fez, which made it a model for the protection of Islamic cities.

Nevertheless, according to the Secretariat's report, it appears that the urban development projects undertaken in 1994 and 1995 and which consist among others of demolishing parts of the Medina to make way for tarmac roads, completely ignore the principles for preservation as defined in the World Heritage Convention. Consequently, the Committee expressed its grave concern with regard to these projects which appear still to be underway and for the destruction of the Ain Azliten area.

Having taken note of the oral information given by the Delegate of Morocco according to whom no other action of this kind has since been carried out, the Committee recalled the terms of the Declaration of Fez, adopted during the 146th closing session of the Executive Board of UNESCO, held in Fez, on 3 and 4 June 1995, which stressed that too many examples throughout the world have unfortunately shown that the brutal intrusion of the automobile has had an irremediably destructive effect on the social and urban fabric of historic cities.

Consequently, the Committee expressed its wish that the national authorities would undertake all necessary measures to immediately halt all new demolition projects. It announced its willingness to encourage the setting up, with the help of international experts if necessary, of an integrated plan which would take account of the different cultural, architectural, sociological, technical and financial aspects for urban rehabilitation, and measuring the potential impacts on the multiple aspects of world heritage values in the Medina.

The Committee invited the national authorities to keep them informed, through its Secretariat, before 1 April 1996, of the situation and the measures undertaken to ensure the long-term preservation of the cultural heritage in all its dimensions in the Medina of Fez.