1.         Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments (Russian Federation) (C 540bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1990

Criteria  (i)(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/540/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2002)
Total amount approved: USD 5,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/540/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 18,000 from the Dutch Funds-in-Trust 

Previous monitoring missions

February 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission; 28 January to 3 February 2007: International Conference of Eastern and Central Europe Countries on the Application of Scientific and Technological Achievements in the Management and Preservation of Historic Cities inscribed on the World Heritage List, St Petersburg. 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Quality of new design projects in the inscribed zone;

b) Confusion over definition and extent of inscribed zone and buffer zone;

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/540/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

Although the World Heritage Committee, at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007), requested the State Party to submit a state of conservation report, the State Party only submitted a set of maps. No information was provided on high rise development, including the issuing of building permits, nor details on the Gazprom project, the so-called “Ohkta Centre”.

During an official visit to Moscow in September 2007, the Deputy Director General of UNESCO reiterated the World Heritage Committee’s decision concerning the high rise development within the boundary or with potential visual impact to the Historic Centre of St. Petersburg.

During a mission to Moscow from 6 to 10 December 2007, the Director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, met representatives of Gazprom and its affiliate the Social and Business Centre Okhta, as well as the British architectural firm RMJM, which won the competition for the towerof the Ohkta Centre. Representatives of the National Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO were also present at the meetings. During these meetings, the Director indicated that alternatives for the design of the tower respecting the value and spirit of this historic city should be found, and suggested that Gazprom and the City of St. Petersburg work in that direction.

Representatives of the federal authorities informed UNESCO that the project to build a tower in the Historic Centre of St. Petersburg was, at this stage, only "an architectural concept." They moreover said that they have received no technical documents from the City of St Petersburg so far. The World Heritage Centre offered its assistance to the Russian authorities towards finding a solution which would preserve the outstanding universal value that warranted the inscription of the Historic Centre of St Petersburg on the World Heritage List.

The World Heritage Centre has been informed by local and international NGO’s, civil society and media on the situation in St. Petersburg, including information on the existing regulation which limits construction to 48 m and which could be revised up to 100 m. Furthermore, information was received that preparatory works already started on the site proposed for the Gazprom high-rise building.

The World Heritage Centre asked for official details of the existing situation and regrets that no report had been received from the State Party in accordance with the World Heritage Committee’s decision.

On 5 February 2008, the State Party transmitted the new version of the report entitled “Proposals of St Petersburg on Identifying the World Heritage Area: Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments” prepared within the framework of the Retrospective Inventory project and based on the seminar “Historic Centre of Saint Petersuburg and Related Group of Monuments” held by the authorities in December 2007. However the delimitation of some components of the property was still not considered satisfactory, especially for the Historic Centre of St. Petersburg, and maps for the components of the property located within Leningrad Region were still missing.


In its previous and repeated comments on boundary clarification and modification of this World Heritage property, the World Heritage Centre already provided detailed information which need to be submitted by the State Party. Taking into account that the State Party noted, once again, various mistakes, discrepancies and gaps in the World Heritage nomination documents originally submitted, owing to the different legal system in place at the time, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider the urgent need to create a special group of experts to assist the authorities and national experts to finalise the boundary clarification document based on the evaluation of more then 36 components with 136 elements of this serial property. The site manager already underlined the necessity to receive international expert’s technical assistance on this issue. This exercise should be carry out in parallel with the preparation of the draft of the Statement of the outstanding universal value.


The World Heritage Centre wishes to underline the importance of the more active involvement of the Federal authorities in the process aiming to safeguard this exceptional World Heritage property.


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


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.105

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 31COM 7B.102, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not provide the detailed state of conservation report, including the high rise development project in St. Petersburg requested by the World Heritage Committee, and also regrets that the maps submitted by the State Party dated 18 January 2007, 5 March 2007 and 5 February 2008, did not comply with the World Heritage Committee's request as they did not provide detailed boundaries and buffer zones of all components of the property, including the Leningrad Region;

4. Expresses its grave concern about the proposed Gazprom tower of the "Ohkta Centre", which could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of this property and recalls that it considered at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) the possibility of inclusion of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

5. Urges the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre on the official position vis-à-vis the proposed project of the "Ohkta Centre" tower in St. Petersburg;

6. Invites the State Party to establish, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, an international expert group on the St. Petersburg Retrospective Inventory, and provide necessary financial support for this activity, and also urges the State Party to finalize the boundary of the property and its buffer zone, including all components in the region, and present a report by 1 February 2009;

7. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

8. Also requests the State Party:

a) to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed Ohkta Tower on the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property;

b) not to take action on any project until the results of the mission are available;

9. Requests the Chairperson and the Director of the World Heritage Centre to convene a high-level meeting with the State Party to underscore the importance of cooperating with the Committee in determining the potential impact of the proposed Ohkta Centre on the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property;

10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a state of conservation report, including details on the Gazprom project of the "Ohkta Centre", which may have an impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.