1.         Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (C 356bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)

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/356/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 452,208
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 211,900 (Conservation of Hagia Sophia); USD 36,686.30 (Convention France UNESCO); UNESCO CLT/CH USD 155,000 (in the framework of the International Safeguarding Campaign for Istanbul and Göreme).

Previous monitoring missions

2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004: World Heritage Centre missions, April 2006, May 2008, March 2009: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Continued degradation of the vernacular architecture within the protected zones (particularly Ottoman-period timber houses in the Zeyrek and Süleymaniye core areas);

b) Quality of repairs and reconstruction of the Roman and Byzantine Walls and associated palace structures, including Tekfur Saray and the "Anemas Dungeon" (Blachernae Palace);

c) Uncontrolled development and absence of a World Heritage management plan;

d) Lack of coordination between national and municipal authorities and of decision-making bodies for the safeguarding World Heritage at the site;

e) Potential impacts of new buildings and new development projects on the World Heritage site mainly within the framework of Law 5366, and the lack of impact studies before large-scale developments are implemented;

f) Potential impact of the proposed new metro bridge across the Golden Horn.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 29 January 2010, a detailed state of conservation report was submitted by the State Party, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). The State Party report provides an overview of the drafting process of the management plan, awareness raising campaigns and developments in the urban renewal areas, but provides little information regarding traffic plans and projects including the New Metro Bridge across the Golden Horn. The Committee at its last session proposed to consider possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in the absence of substantial progress regarding the construction plans of the new metro bridge across the Golden Horn. The following issues have been addressed in the State Party report:

a) Management Structure

The State Party reports that on 28 December 2009 the “UNESCO World Heritage Sites Management Directorate” was established in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to coordinate World Heritage matters and collaborate with relevant authorities for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the Operational Guidelines. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome this initiative to encourage further collaboration between central government and local authorities; it also complies with the recommendations of the 2009 joint reactive monitoring mission. However, little information has been provided regarding the composition and function of this Directorate.

b) Site Management Plan

The Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency is financing the drafting of the Management Plan: a four-stage process and a one-year time framework have been established for the Plan to be finalised in December 2010. Several workshops and meetings have been held for its preparation with the participation of Turkish experts.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies commend the preliminary works but underline the urgent need for the finalization of the management plan to provide a proper framework to ensure that constructions and infrastructure projects respect the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property. Without this framework, the property is increasingly under threat due to the dynamic development of traffic and building projects in its core and on the Historic Peninsula.

c) Awareness raising among stakeholders and local community

The Municipality’s Conservation Implementation and Control Bureau (KUDEB) conducted a number of awareness raising activities for conservation professionals, institutions and civil society including training sessions, publications, films, a quarterly bulletin “Restoration and Conservation Activities”, the panel “Conservation, Restoration and Sustainability of Timber Buildings” and seminar “Conservation of Masonry Buildings”.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome these activities. They note that although there is still no broad comprehensive awareness-building programme, the State Party reports that it plans to include awareness raising studies in the Site Management Plan.

d) Urban renewal areas and Law 5366 for the “Preservation by Renovation and Utilization by Revitalizing of Deteriorated Immovable Historical and Cultural Properties”

The State Party provides an overview of recent renovation programmes in twelve Urban Renewal Areas, part of them located within the property, three of which include the preservation of the historic fabric in its aims. The Ayvansaray Renewal area renovation project was revised according to the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission and resubmitted to the Regional Conservation Council for approval. It remains difficult to evaluate if all these renewal projects within the framework of Law 5366 respect the conservation of existing historic structures, as requested by the Committee.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the current implementation of Law 5366 constitutes a potential threat to the integrity of the World Heritage areas and the Historic Peninsula.

e) New Metro Bridge across the Golden Horn

The State Party, according to the information obtained from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, reports that following the World Heritage Committee’s decision, revised the plans for the Metro Bridge , reducing the 65 m bridge pylons to 55 m which corresponds to the base of the Süleymaniye Mosque. In January 2010 the Regional Conservation Council requested the submission of these new plans for evaluation.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that this represents no substantive progress since the position of the World Heritage Committee is very clear regarding the significant adverse impact of the towering cable-stay structure, even reduced to 55m, on the skyline and setting of the property and the views of the Süleymaniye Mosque, the importance of which is highlighted in justification of both criterion (i) as a unique masterpiece of human genius, and criterion (iv) as providing a top-rank example of a structure of the Ottoman period. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies further note that no alternative solution, such as the design of a flat bridge, and the removal of the station from the middle of the bridge, has been seriously reconsidered by the municipality since last year. In addition, the independent Environmental Impact Study of the proposed bridge, based on an assessment of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, including the skyline of the Historic Peninsula, has not been provided, as requested by the Committee and recommended by the 2009 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission. In a separate report received by the World Heritage Centre in January 2010, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality states that “the construction of the Bridge and moving on to the phase of first test drive are planned to be completed by the end of 2010.” In addition, the World Heritage Centre has further learnt from Turkish media that 24 steel piles have already arrived on the construction site and that the construction has already started. Furthermore, a meeting between the Turkish Permanent Delegation and World Heritage Centre staff was held on 30 April 2010 on the bridge issue. The lack of an independent impact assessment of the proposed bridge (based on an assessment of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, including the skyline of the Historic Peninsula), as requested by the Committee, was discussed. The Permanent Delegation confirmed on 18 May to the Centre that the Turkish authorities are currently considering to conduct an alternative independent impact assessment for the Haliç metro bridge.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Body therefore consider that in view of the absence of significant revision or abandonment of the current Golden Horn Bridge project by the competent authorities, paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines concerning inclusion in the List of World Heritage Danger may be considered by the World Heritage Committee.

f) Transportation Projects

The State Party reports on the progress of two large scale transportation projects: The Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel and the Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicles. It informs that a project competition for the Marmaray Main Transfer Point station in Yenikapi aiming at the conservation of the archaeological area will be organised by the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture Agency and that intensive excavation works continue on the site.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome the attention paid to archaeological excavations at the affected areas and look forward to receiving the station project details by the State Party for assessment.

The State Party further reports that the Turkish-Korean Collaboration (TKJV) has signed a contract for the Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicles (Eurasia Tunnel) to prepare the “Environmental and Social Assessment” of the project due in spring 2010. This tunnel project aims at unifying the Istanbul-Ankara state road, includes the widening of the Kennedy Avenue close by the core area of Archaeological Park.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies remain concerned about the impact of such a project on the property and recommend the State Party to include in the proposed “Environmental and Social Assessment” a specific assessment of possible impacts on the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in advance of any work being approved or undertaken. This assessment would be crucial to prevent any adverse impacts on the property due to an increase of traffic into the Historic Peninsula. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies regret that no details of the Traffic Plan have been provided as requested by the Committee.

g) Ottoman style Timber Houses

The State Party further reports on the KUDEB activities in training conservation specialists for timber houses and in restoring individual timber houses: 11 were completed and 5 are in process at the time of preparing this document. The historic buildings demolished by KIPTAS in 2007 and 2008 are to be restored using original materials and building techniques; the approval of the reconstruction projects is in process. The programme “Maintenance and Repair Program of Timber Structures” is being conducted by Istanbul 2010 Agency in coordination with KUDEB and with the participation of the National Timber Association.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that the activities of KUDEB and the municipalities to finance and technically support the conservation of the timber houses should be further encouraged and commend the joint initiative with the Istanbul 2010 Agency and the National Timber Association. However the World Heritage Centre continues to receive letters regarding the illegal demolition of timber houses and notes that there appears to be little awareness of the obligations to safeguard vernacular architecture or the advantages of doing so for cultural tourism and housing purposes.

h) Restoration of the Theodosian Walls

A Theodosian Walls Management Plan is being financed by the Istanbul 2010 European Capital Agency, as well as several restoration projects to be finalised in 2010. 14 buildings were expropriated and 6 buildings were demolished in the Sur-i Sultani area which threatened the integrity of the area according to the State Party report.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that information provided is very limited: neither maps, nor photographs are provided and it remains difficult to assess whether these developments enhance or threaten the integrity of the property. Further information is therefore required in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

i) Four Seasons Hotel

The cancellation of the additional building work at the Four Seasons Hotel by a court decision on 24 February 2009 also halted the archaeological excavation works. Decisions of the relevant regional courts and councils are awaited.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome the decision to cancel the additional building. However they consider that this delay will put important archaeological remains at risk, due to prolonged exposure to weather conditions. Urgent measures should be taken for the conservation of the archaeological remains.

The State Party has also submitted a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. This will be examined by the World Heritage Committee under Item 8 of the Agenda (Document WHC-10/34.COM/8B).

In conclusion, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies encourage the State Party to pursue its efforts to implement the measures already requested by the World Heritage Committee. They commend the positive developments which have started in cooperation with the Istanbul 2010 European Capital Agency and the funding provided. They further encourage the State Party to urgently finalise the Site Management Plan in the proposed time framework of one year in order to sustain the ongoing positive developments and to avoid illegal demolitions, inappropriate reconstruction and development threatening the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies regret that the proposed bridge has neither been abandoned, nor have alternative designs such as a flat bridge been considered by the authorities as requested by the World Heritage Committee. The threat from the planned Golden Horn Bridge, together with the threats from inappropriate reconstruction and developments, particularly within the framework of Law 5366, all have the potential to impact adversely and irreversibly on the Outstanding Universal Value, and integrity of the property. Therefore the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that paragraph 179(b) of the Operational Guidelines is relevant and that the World Heritage Committee might wish to consider inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. In case this option is considered, they furthermore propose a Desired state of conservation and corrective measures in the Draft Decision.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.102

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decisions 32 COM 7B.110 and 33 COM 7B.124 adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively,

3. Also recalling the recommendations of the 2009 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission, endorsed at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

4. Notes that the State Party has established a "UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Site Management Directorate" in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism;

5. Also notes that further progress has been made in the drafting of the Management Plan and the commitment of the State Party to complete the Management Plan by 1 February 2011;

6. Acknowledges the efforts in awareness raising on the scope and value of the World Heritage property among stakeholders and local communities and further notes the commitment of the State Party to incorporate these efforts within the framework of the Management Plan;

7. Notes moreover the efforts of the joint initiative with the Istanbul 2010 Agency and the National Timber Association and the Municipalitiy's Conservation Implementation and Control Bureau (KUDEB) regarding the preservation of the Ottoman timber houses and notes in addition the commitment expressed by the State Party to develop an holistic conservation or rehabilitation strategy or programme as part of the overall management plan;

8. Reiterates the recommendations of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions (2006, 2008, 2009) concerning development projects and expresses its concern that only minor modifications appear to have been made to urban renewal projects proposed within the framework of Law 5366 for the "Preservation by Renovation and Utilization by Revitalisation of deteriorated Immovable Historical and Cultural Properties" to incorporate conservation plans appropriate for the property;

9. Regrets that the State Party has not provided any details of the overall Traffic Plan as requested by the World Heritage Committee, and also expresses its concern about the potential impacts of increased traffic on the historic peninsula;

10. Also regrets that details of the Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel and the Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicle have not been provided as requested, and takes note of the commitment expressed by the State Party to continue to provide relevant information on the ongoing Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel project and details and specific heritage impact assessments addressing potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, when available for the Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for motor vehicles, which is at an early design stage and has not yet been approved by the relevant bodies;

11. Welcomes the decision to cancel the additional building of the Four Season Hotel, but remains concerned about the prolonged exposure to weather conditions of the important archaeological remains also takes note that the State Party is committed and has proceeded to take up measures for their adequate conservation;

12. Considers that the proposed construction project for a metro bridge with towering cable-stay structures across the Golden Horn might have the potential to irreversibly impact on the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 179 (b) of the Operational Guidelines;

13. Notes furthermore that an Independent Environmental Impact Assessment has been commissioned by the State Party in accordance with Decision 33 COM 7B.124, to be carried out using the methodology of the "ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties" document so as to ensure the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in particular on the setting of the Süleymaniye Mosque and on the overall skyline of the historic peninsula;

14. Requests the State Party to provide the results of this assessment which should also include alternative solutions and their impact assessments by 15 October 2010, to the World Heritage Centre;

15. Finally notes the ongoing discussions between stakeholders on the issue;

16. Urges the State Party to also implement these measures:

a) A comprehensive management plan is adopted after review by the Advisory Bodies to sustain the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session and the 2009 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS joint reactive monitoring mission;

b) A process for rigorous heritage impact assessment is adopted for all large scale projects including transportation and other infrastructure projects, including urban renewal projects, to ensure that they do not adversely impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

c) The Ottoman style timber houses and the Theodosian walls, as key vulnerable attributes of the property, are protected and a programme for their conservation and rehabilitation agreed;

d) The retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value is adopted;

17. Finally requests the State Party to submit a detailed report on all the above-mentioned issues to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2011 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011, with a view to considering, based on the results of the Environmental Impact Assessment and in the absence of substantial progress concerning the other measures, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8D

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8D,

2.   Recalling Decision 33 COM 8D, adopted at its 33th session (Seville, 2009);

3.   Congratulates States Parties in the Europe Region and the States Parties of Algeria, Lebanon and Tunisia on the excellent work accomplished in the clarification of the delimitation of their World Heritage properties and thanks them for their efforts to improve the credibility of the World Heritage List;

5.   Takes note of the clarifications of property boundaries and areas provided by the following States Parties in the European and Arab Regions in response to the Retrospective Inventory, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-10/34.COM/8D:

- Algeria: Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad; Djémila;

- Georgia: Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery;

- Greece: Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki; Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos; Archaeological Site of Aigai (modern name Vergina);

- Holy See/Italy: Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura;

- Lebanon: Tyre;

- Malta: City of Valletta;

- Netherlands: Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour, Netherlands Antilles; Ir. D.F. Woudagemaal (D.F. Wouda Steam Pumping Station);

- Romania: Villages with Fortified Churches in Transylvania; Monastery of Horezu; Churches of Moldavia;

- Serbia: Stari Ras and Sopoćani; Studenica Monastery;

- Tunisia: Medina of Tunis; Amphitheatre of El Jem; Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis; Medina of Sousse; Kairouan;

- Turkey: Historic Areas of Istanbul; Hierapolis-Pamukkale; City of Safranbolu.

6.   Requests the European and Arab States Parties, which have not yet answered the questions raised in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory, to provide all requested clarifications and documentation as soon as possible and by 1 April 2011 at the latest.