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Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures

Uzbekistan
Factors affecting the property in 2007*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Management activities
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Serious impact of a large-scale restoration;

b) Urban landscaping programme impacts upon the authenticity and integrity of the property.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2007
Requests approved: 1 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2007**

Joint UNESCO Tashkent Office/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission on 6-12 March 2006; a brief assessment mission by an international expert of the UNESCO Tashkent Office in April 2005; mission by UNESCO/ICOMOS experts in October 2006.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

The criteria under which Samarkand was inscribed on the World Heritage List include not only the outstanding architectural ensembles such as the Registan Square and Bibi Khanum Mosque, but also elements of the historic town and townscape of Samarkand, from the 13th Century down to the present day. At the time of Samarkand’s inscription, the World Heritage Committee requested that the Uzbek authorities prepare an integrated management plan for the historic town as a whole, and to report back to the Committee at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004).

a) Shakhi-Zinda complex:

In October 2004, comprehensive restoration works were begun in Shakhi-Zindah complex without prior notification or approval from the World Heritage Committee.

At its 29th session (Durban, 2005), the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to provide a complete documentation concerning the large restoration and urban landscaping programme, which appeared to be severely affecting the integrity and authenticity of the property. As requested by the Committee at its 29th session (Durban, 2005) an ICOMOS mission was carried out in March 2006, accompanied by the Head of the UNESCO Office in Tashkent. The Mission considered that the loss of authenticity occasioned by the recent work at the Shaki-Zindah complex was alarming and that all development and conservation decisions must in future be guided by a management plan.

b) New road between Afrosiab and Timurid part of Samarkand:

In 2005/2006, the Municipality of Samarkand completed a major enlargement to a four-lane highway of a trunk road passing through the middle of the World Heritage zone, effectively severing the Afrosiab and the Shakhi-Zindah from the Timurid city. This project is part of a larger city development scheme 2004-2025 (“Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand”). At its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the Committee noted that this new road construction, 16 metres wide and bordered by retaining walls up to five metres high, is very obtrusive to the historic environment and has a considerable impact on the property and its buffer zone. The Committee also noted that the new trunk road was part of a wider plan to enlarge the road system around the periphery of Samarkand and provide links with the existing internal roads and that this, if implemented, could have a considerable impact on the integrity of the property and its buffer zones; the Committee also noted with concern that certain areas of traditional residential housing near to the main monuments had been demolished and others appeared to be under threat.

The Committee urged the State Party to review the large-scale urban planning schemes, such as the proposed “Project for the reconstruction of the central part of Samarkand”, and to immediately refrain from further demolition of traditional housing areas pending the adoption of a conservation policy and management plan;

The Committee requested the State Party as a matter of priority to develop a management plan for the whole historic town, including the World Heritage areas and its buffer zones; prepare an inventory and documentation of the historic features and the architectural values; establish an integrated conservation strategy for the existing residential quarters, as well as for the reintegration and rehabilitation of the surrounding areas that have been demolished. Further, the Committee noted that should the State Party fail to initiate the above-mentioned recommendations and decisions, the World Heritage Committee may decide to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 31st session in 2007. An informal mission by UNESCO/ICOMOS experts visited Samarkand in October 2006.

c) Management Plan:

During the Mission in October 2006, it was agreed by the State Party that the Management Plan for Samarkand should be a strategicplan, which should include the concept of the overall development of the city and include historical residential areas as well as the main architectural and archeological monuments.

In January 2007 the State Party submitted a Draft Management Plan of the Conservation and Rehabilitation of the Historical Centre of Samarkand. This detailed and aspirational Plan is in four main sections:

(i) Historical-cultural values and condition of buildings of the historical centre of Samarkand,

(ii) The general principles for the preservation and rehabilitation of the historical centre of Samarkand,

(iii) Management and monitoring,

(iv) Management plan for the conservation and rehabilitation of the historical centre of Samarkand.

The principles in the Plan include:

(i) Whenever possible the maximal preservation of all properties of the cultural heritage in original (authentic) shape,

(ii) Preservation and rehabilitation, of both monuments and their historical environment and landscape,

(iii) New town planning should correspond to the requirements of national and international legislation on protection of the cultural heritage,

(iv) The approaches to the preservation and rehabilitations of these three main zones in the City should be differentiated.

For the Old City attention is drawn to the need to consider not only the main monuments but the associated residential quarters with their network of courtyard houses, water collection system of khouzs and aryks, and small neighbourhood mosques. There the main aim is to not only to restore but also revive something of the rich economic and social functions that these areas once had as the heart of the Timurid City. The Plan identifies the very specific qualities of these areas such as busy, “trading streets hung … with goods, mysterious shade of small dokons (shops) with silver jugs and flashes bronze; ….. narrow side streets with sounds of dutar and dead-ends, suddenly open wide through gate to the depth of cool and wide courtyard. ” The Plan stresses the need for support for the ‘positive phenomena of spontaneous, self-acting revival of traditional inhabited architecture,…[as a ] result of current repairing and reconstruction by the population of their houses in traditional style.

The Timetable for the Plan is 2007-2015. The first stage, 2007 – 2010 would cover the necessary research, development and design activities. The realisation of the planned activities would be carried out in the second stage, 2011-2015. Financing the Programmes emanating from the Plan will be carried out at the expense of national and local budgets.

The State Party has further confirmed that:

(i) The “Project for the Reconstruction of the Central Part of Samarkand” 2004-2025 will be superseded by the proposals to be drawn up as part of the Management Plan

(ii) The Management Plan, after its approval by the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan, should become the basic document on the basis of which the General Plan for City Development of Samarkand till 2025 will be elaborated. All subsequent projects of a detailed lay-out of the central part of Samarkand city, the general schemes and concrete projects of roads construction will be adjusted in accordance with submitted Management Plan.

(iii) Additional rules and standards with more detailed regulation will be developed on the basis of the Management Plan. These will include historical buildings, tourism facilities, public spaces, residential quarters, transport infrastructure and other related issues. It is planned that draft rules and standards will be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for consultation and comments.

ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre congratulate the State Party on compiling a detailed and visionary draft Management Plan that addresses the key issues facing the historic city of Samarkand, in particular the need to integrate the protection and preservation of the main iconic monuments with the restoration of their associated historic residential areas, the need to keep major roads out of the historic centre, the need to support the economic and social sustainability of the overall historic centre, and the overall need to put in place detailed planning and guidance structures to provide the necessary supportive framework.

ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre also suggest that as part of the Management Plan, a Conservation Strategy for the City should be developed – covering both monuments and residential areas of the historic city – that acknowledges the wealth of conservation expertise, experience, documentation that exists in the city and which is addressed at both on-going maintenance and major restoration projects. It is further suggested that a Coordinating Committee for the World Heritage Site of Samarkand be put in place to bring together all partners currently involved in the conservation and development of the World Heritage Site.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2007
31 COM 7B.74
Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures (Uzbekistan)

The World Heritage Committee,

1.       Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add,

2.       Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.59, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.       Notes with satisfaction the State Party’s production of a draft Management Plan for Samarkand which aims to address the concept of the overall development of the city and considers not only the main architectural and archeological monuments, but also historical residential areas and traffic and tourism management and notes the timetable, 2007-2010 for the development of the final detailed Management Plan;

4.       Requests the State Party to submit for approval, as available:

a)      Draft rules and standards including approaches to reconstruction,

b)      Revised draft road schemes for the city, and

c)      Details of proposed zoning;

5.       Also requests the State Party to confirm that no further road building will be undertaken until the revised road scheme for the city has been approved, and that this will include proposals to  close the new road between Afrosiab and Timurid city to through-traffic;

6.       Further requests the State Party to consider the development of a Conservation Strategy for the city for both monuments and residential areas, that acknowledges the wealth of conservation expertise, experience, and documentation that exists in the city and covers both on-going maintenance and major restoration projects;

7.       Suggests that a Coordinating Committee for the property be put in place to bring together all partners currently involved in the conservation and development of the property;

8.       Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission to evaluate progress in the development of the Management Plan and the implementation of the revised road schemes for the City;

9.       Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2008, a detailed report on progress made in developing the management plan and on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008.

Draft Decision: 31 COM 7B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.59, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3. Notes with satisfaction the State Party’s production of a draft Management for Samarkand which aims to address the concept of the overall development of the city and  considers not only the main architectural and archeological monuments, but also historical residential areas and traffic and tourism management and notes the timetable, 2007-2010 for the development of the final detailed Management Plan;

4. Requeststhe State Party to submit for approval, as available,

a) Draft rules and standards including approaches to reconstruction;

b) Revised draft road schemes for the city; and

c) Details of proposed zoning;

5. Also requests the State Party to confirm that no further road building will be undertaken until the revised road scheme for the city has been approved, and that this will include proposals to close the new road between Afrosiab and the Timurid City to through-traffic;

6. Further requests the State Party to consider the development of a Conservation Strategy for the City for both monuments and residential areas, that acknowledges the wealth of conservation expertise, experience, and documentation that exists in the city and covers both on-going maintenance and major restoration projects;

7. Suggests that a Coordinating Committee for the World Heritage property of Samarkand be put in place to bring together all partners currently involved in the conservation and development of the World Heritage Site;

8. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS monitoring mission to evaluate progress in the development of the Management Plan and the implementation of the revised road schemes for the City;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2008, a detailed report on the progress made in developing the management plan and on the state of conservation of the property for examination by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008. 

Report year: 2007
Uzbekistan
Date of Inscription: 2001
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 31COM (2007)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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