The 40th session of the World Heritage Committee is taking place in Istanbul from 10 to 20 July 2016, and we are extremely grateful to Turkey for generously hosting this session.

Turkey is a country at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, with a diverse heritage of civilizations that have been a cultural and historical influence worldwide. It is home to fifteen World Heritage sites, thirteen cultural and two mixed properties of both cultural and natural values. These include the Historic Areas of Istanbul, the Archaeological Site of Troy, Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape, and many others.

Istanbul in particular plays an important role in heritage conservation. I had the privilege of participating in a number of missions to assist in the safeguarding of its historic urban landscape. Integrated management, including tourism and visitor management, is of vital importance for Istanbul as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. This issue presents the challenges of Istanbul’s preservation and transmission of heritage, as the foundation for a globally important destination.

Visitor management is a major concern at the majority of Turkish properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and the Tentative List, many of them archaeological sites. The sites date from different periods, from prehistory to the Middle Ages, and the article by Zeynep Aktüre outlines visitor and local community engagement strategies for maintaining the sites while the public learns about them. Cevat Erder describes the World Heritage Convention as it is reflected in Turkey, and Yonca Kösebay Erkan explains how partnerships provide innovative solutions in protecting sites. In a country where the fifteen sites are all cultural or mixed, there are also exceptional natural sites that could potentially be inscribed on the World Heritage List in future, and they are described here by Zeki Kaya.

It is a great pleasure to publish an interview with Lale Ülker, Chair of the 40th Committee session, where she discusses how heritage can contribute to international dialogue and reconciliation. We also feature special messages from Nabi Avc ı, Minister of Culture and Tourism, and Kadir Topba ş, Mayor of Istanbul, who cover the unique heritage of Istanbul and Turkey and their contribution to heritage preservation worldwide.

I hope you will enjoy this issue and the wealth of information it provides about this exceptional country.

Mechtild Rössler
Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Content s

Message by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

Special Message from Minister of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Turkey

Special Message from Mayor of Istanbul

Interview with H.E. Ambassador Lale Ülker, Chair, 40th session of World Heritage Committee

The World Heritage Convention as reflected in Turkey
Cevat Erder, Faculty of Architecture, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Board Member, ICOMOS Turkey National Committee


  •  Historic cultural landscape of Istanbul
    Zekiye Yenen, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Architecture, Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul
  • Conservation experience within rapid development dynamics and the ‘Istanbul model’
    Halil Onur, Architect, Site Manager and Fatma Sema Sekban, Conservation Architect, Istanbul Site Management Directorate

Regulatory framework for managing World Heritage cultural sites in Turkey
Evrim Ulusan and Zeynep Tuna Yüncü City Planners, Department of World Heritage Sites, Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ankara

Managing Turkey’s archaeological sites for visitors and local communities
Zeynep Aktüre, Department of Architecture, İzmir Institute of Technology, Turkish National Commission for UNESCO, Member of the Committee for Cultural Heritage

Turkey’s World Heritage sites

  • Map of World Heritage sites in Turkey
  • Cultural sites
  • Mixed sites
  • Tentative List
  • Potential natural heritage sites in Turkey
    Zeki Kaya, Department of Biological Sciences, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; World Heritage Committee Natural Heritage Expert of Turkey, Turkish National Commission for UNESCO

Managing diversity: Partnerships for World Heritage sites
Yonca Kösebay Erkan, UNESCO Chair Holder on Management and Promotion of World Heritage Sites, New Media and Community Involvement, Kadir Has University, Istanbul

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World Heritage would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey, and especially Cem Kahyaoğlu, Head of Department for Cultural Diplomacy, for their kind assistance in preparing this issue.