1.         Historic Areas of Istanbul (Türkiye) (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 https://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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

UNESCO missions in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Continued degradation of the civil architecture within the protected areas; uncontrolled development;  absence of an urban development and conservation plan since its abrogation in 1996; lack of implementation by national and municipal authorities 

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

On 28 January 2005 the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a report on action taken in response to the Committee’s recommendations, “Istanbul Progress Report 2005”.

The progress report from the State Party, as well as news from UNESCO and ICOMOS, indicate positive and promising measures taken by the authorities :

a)  The urban conservation plan for the Historic Peninsula was approved by the Istanbul Conservation Council;

b)  Revisions in the Turkish Conservation Law adopted in 2004 would enable the municipalities (Greater Istanbul and the two district municipalities concerned with the World Heritage areas) to take action within conservation areas.  But this law is not yet in force pending the adoption of application regulations.  ICOMOS hopes that the municipalities will be supported with financial resources and staff which will help them to handle the conservation problems within their territories;

c)  In response to the “Save Our Roofs Campaign” launched in December 2003 by the Turkish Timber Association with UNESCO support for the preservation of the timber houses in the protected area of Istanbul, the Government allocated an important budget.  These funds, distributed through the office of the Governor of Istanbul in collaboration with the local representatives of the Ministry of Culture, include funds for the restoration of ten timber houses in the Zeyrek WH area.  The district municipalities are currently establishing contacts with the owners of the architecturally important timber houses for the signature of contracts by the parties concerned.  But funds from the Governorship have not yet been allocated to the district municipalities for this purpose.  This activity, while modest, will be a good start to maintain and improve the historic neighbourhood of Zeyrek, thus complementing the urban rehabilitation actions initiated under the UNESCO-designed seven million EU -financed project in the Fener and Balat areas which are also in the Fatih municipality;

d)  The Fener and Balat Rehabilitation Project is progressing despite the initial reticence of the inhabitants to apply for the housing improvement grant.  More applicants are coming forward thanks to increased efforts by the project team in neighbourhood-based information sessions. The Istanbul Conservation Council has granted renovation permits for some 30 buildings, while more are expected to be submitted by the project team for its review in the coming months.  The renovation plan for the market and the cultural centres are also under preparation;

e)  The Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, and the Governorate of Istanbul have initiated collaboration to address conservation problems and remedial measures under the framework of a project entitled ‘Istanbul: Museum City.’ Collaboration between several administrative authorities would facilitate the central government to provide funds to authorities like the Pious Foundations and the municipalities which own historic buildings.  The project steering group is supported by professionals and experts from universities;

f)  The “Marmaray Rail” and “Bosphorus Tunnel” Project has been presented to the Istanbul Regional Conservation Council which has authorized the excavations for Yenikapi and Yedikule station upon evaluating the archaeological impact of the project;

g)  A seismic master plan has been developed and a research, training and implementation protocol for minimising earthquake risks on cultural properties was signed in November 2004 for a three-year project.  Studies are underway by universities for the establishment of a national seismic hazard institution to work in this field;

h)  Several other conservation projects are being carried out: restoration of the Column of Constantine, restoration of Column of Marcian, restoration of Istanbul Land and Sea Walls, the Serefiye Cistern, and rehabilitation of the Gulhane Park;

i)  The Division of Cultural Heritage of UNESCO provided financial support under the International Safeguarding Campaign for Istanbul and Goreme, for the restoration of the Zeyrek Mosque / Church undertaken by ICOMOS Turkey.  The restoration project should be completed by late Spring 2005;

j)  The Division of Cultural Heritage of UNESCO also provided financial support for the International Workshop on “Urban Management Development and Action Plans – Managing Historical Istanbul”, held in the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce on 6 - 7 October 2004, organized by the Turkish Timber Association with support from the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Municipality of Greater Istanbul, the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, the Municipality of the district of Fatih, the City  of Barcelona and IMC Consulting Limited,  the last two entities being the executing agencies for the Fener-Balat project.  Some 90 participants worked to formulate management models for different administrative structures (central, local and project management) concerned with historic Istanbul.  Public authorities, experts and scholars from cities such as Rome, Barcelona, Marseille and London with similar experience were also invited to share their experience and proposals during the workshop.

UNESCO and ICOMOS underline that the State Party has taken steps to comply with the request of the Committee.  However, the State Party is to be reminded of the concerns expressed over the technique and quality of the works being undertaken for the consolidation of the Theodosian Walls, as well as on the Church of St Serge and Bacchus in order not to undermine any further their authenticity. 

UNESCO transmitted to the State Party in December 2004, concerns raised by conservation circles about the capacity of the archaeological team to undertake rescue archaeology operations in an urban context which require specialist skills. They also feared that a lack of coordination between the Ministry of Transportation (DLH), Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Istanbul Conservation Council, the Istanbul Authorities, the district authorities and the contractors of this project is delaying the execution of the works.  The State Party was reminded of the recommendations of UNESCO to the Government of Turkey and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), the co-funding agency for this project, concerning safeguarding measures necessary in the construction of the surface metro line, the tunnel under the Bosphorus and the train stations in Uskudar, Yenikapi, Yedikule and Sirkeci in the “Report of the UNESCO Advisory Team on the Marmaray Rail Tube Tunnel and Gebze-Halkah Surface Metro System” of December 2003.

Furthermore, ICOMOS was informed that tourist itineraries have been established and that an NGO concerned with reviving the historic quarters is publishing a guide showing the cultural heritage itineraries through the Historic Areas of Istanbul.

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


Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.70

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.80 adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Noting with appreciation the conservation efforts made by the national authorities and the Greater Istanbul municipality and the district municipalities, as presented in the report submitted by the State Party of Turkey, notably in approving the conservation plan for the Historic Peninsula, initiation of the seismic master plan and the financial allocation for heritage conservation of Istanbul, as well as the progress in the EU-financed Fener-Balat Rehabilitation project and the "Save Our Roofs" campaign for the preservation of civil architecture through a housing improvement policy ;

4. Also noting the collaboration between the Ministry of Culture, the General Directorate of Pious Foundations, the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, and the Governor of Istanbul in addressing conservation problems and project development, including the "Istanbul: Museum City" project,

5. Requests the State Party:

a) to ensure the urgent completion of regulations, in order to enable the renforcement of the Urban Conservation and Development Plan and to unblock central Government funds for use by the district municipalities;and

b) to exert greater care in the conservation techniques applied in the consolidation of the Theodosian Walls, in order not to undermine any further the authenticity of the property;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit, by 1 February 2006, a detailed report on the progress achieved in the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations and benchmarks for addressing the issues raised in Decision 28 COM 15B.80 specifically with regard to including the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).