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City of Valletta

Factors affecting the property in 1991*
  • Air pollution
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Relative humidity
  • Other Threats:

    Highly crumbly basic building material

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1991
Requests approved: 1 (from 1981-1981)
Total amount approved : 1,625 USD
Missions to the property until 1991**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1991

The City of Valletta was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1980 under criteria (i) and (vi). Its monuments are protected on the national level by an Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1925. An ideal fortified town, founded in the XVlth century by the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Valletta has undergone very little alteration in its urban fabric and its architecture. A great number of important monuments were preserved, among which the famous Auberges of each language: 320 historical monuments within 55 hectares.

The major conservation problem of Valletta is the same for almost all the island: the nature of the globigerina limestone which constitutes the highly crumbly basic building material used. However, maritime humidity and pollution seriously damage the façades and the decoration of the monuments and buildings.

Most of the monuments showed deterioration and alteration problems of the stone (the globigerina has an alveolate structure). Many of these monuments damaged during the Second World War have not had basic repair and are still undergoing makeshift and 'temporary' repairs: the Auberges of Italy, Bavaria, Provence, the Hospital of the Order, and the Grand Masters' Palace. The Department of Museums and the Ministry of Civil Engineering are responsible for maintenance and restoration works. The Church authorities are in charge of the restoration of churches and other religious properties. There is for the time being no safeguarding plan for Valletta (a project is under way). There exists, however, a committee for the restoration of Valletta which acts as technical adviser in cases of modification of the façades, etc.

A request for technical assistance was granted in 1981 for the establishment of a research section in the laboratory of the University of Malta and for equipment for the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, in order to study stone conservation problems through different testing methods: silicification, impregnation, replacement of blocks, etc. The Committee also has under consideration a request for assistance concerning air conditioning in the hypogeum.

An International Campaign for the Safeguarding of Malta was launched in 1981. The action plan comprised conservation works, in particular, for the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the megalithic temples, and the Fort Saint Elmo in Valletta, but only the hypogeum was subject to a thorough monitoring. The Forts Saint Elmo and Saint Angelo belong to the Army and are not being restored, although they need several restorations. However the bastions at the entrance gates are being maintained, restored, and refitted. These forts are a part of the government's restoration plans which provide for tourist use of these places. This should be watched carefully to prevent possible deterioration due to a high flow of visitors. Emergency plans should presently consist in putting in place legal and control instruments (setting up and adopting a safeguarding plan) and enabling a better knowledge of the technical means allowing to slow down the deterioration of the stone.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1991
Monitoring of the State of Conservation of the World Heritage Cultural and Related Technical Problems

18. The monitoring report presented by the Secretariat dealt with the following sites: Xanthos-Letoon (Turkey), the City of Valletta (Malta), Shibam (Yemen), National Historical Park - Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers (Haiti), Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), Moenjodaro (Pakistan), and the Madara Rider (Bulgaria). Monitoring visits had been made to seventeen sites by an expert who was in charge of co­ordinating action for the preservation of 115 Mediterranean sites within the framework of the UNEP - Barcelona Convention. These visits had yielded a wealth of information and documentation which needed analysis and the establishment of a dialogue with the national authorities before a report could be presented to the Committee. A summary of the findings of this expert concerning two sites was included in the Working Document SC-91/CONF.002/3. Reports on the state of conservation of the other fifteen sites will be presented to the Bureau in June 1992. In addition, the expert who was present at this session was ready to explain to the Committee his approach and to respond to specific questions. An additional monitoring report had been prepared by the Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, who was also present at this session.

19. The Committee was also informed of the type of continuous monitoring which the Secretariat pursued with regard to projects which were the subject of international campaigns or supported by UNDP. A recently published brochure on the work carried out in Sana'a, as well as the report on the mission to Bulgaria which was annexed to the Document SC-91/CONF.002/3, showed that the most efficient monitoring could be done through technical assistance missions. Unfortunately, the financial and personnel resources of the Secretariat were far too small compared with the many World Heritage sites to be monitored.

20. In the opinion of the Secretariat, a monitoring action should be carried out in the form of a continuous dialogue with the State Party which should begin even before the inscription of the site, in order to inform local competent authorities (politicians and technicians) about the values to be maintained and the principles and methods of conservation to be applied. In particular, the implementation of the management plan requested at the time of the proposal for inscription should be verified by means of a monitoring exercise.

21. The representative of ICOMOS brought to the attention of the Committee alarming news about the deterioration of certain parts of monuments of Khizi Pogost (USSR). He stressed the fact that his organization was interested in sending a mission on the spot to evaluate the state of conservation of the site. With reference to the cultural centre in the process of being built between the Tower of Belem and the Monastery of the Hieronymites (Portugal), he underlined that the work was almost completed and that a comprehensive file submitted by the government showed that the rules of the competition had taken account of the fact that the site was classified as a World Heritage property. Part of the existing building replaced industrial constructions and this represented an improvement. This case proved that it was necessary to determine a future strategy to guide architects in charge of the development of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Portuguese observer remarked that the project of integrating this cultural centre was part of a plan for safeguarding of the zone with a view to reasserting the value of the site. The Committee took note of the report of ICOMOS and, in the light of this example, emphasized that States Parties should attach the greatest attention to maintaining the values of World Heritage properties, when elaborating development projects, new constructions or major restorations. They should equally inform the Committee, through UNESCO's Secretariat, of their intention to undertake or to authorize projects in an area protected under the Convention before any irreversible decisions were taken. The need for close collaboration between the Secretariat and the local competent authorities was stressed during the debate. The Committee took note that ICOMOS, in co-operation with ICCROM, was preparing a guide on the management of sites for authorities responsible for World Heritage.

22. The Co-ordinator of the UNDP/UNESCO Regional Project on Cultural Heritage and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean introduced the method which had been used in the detailed analysis of six sites in the region. The documents presented only reflect work already achieved within the framework of a wider project concerning sixteen sites in all, the evaluation of which will be carried out up until 1993 and will cost the World Heritage Fund US$40,000.

23. The Committee took note of this report. While considering that the method was interesting, it judged that it would not be necessarily applicable to all regions.

24. The Co-ordinator of a network set up by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the protection of Mediterranean sites under the Barcelona Convention introduced in his turn his working method on monitoring. During visits to seventeen sites around the Mediterranean, he evaluated,, in collaboration with local experts, the different problems raised by the conservation of the sites concerned. Following his visits he kept in touch with the competent authorities with a view to assisting them in their task with technical advice and documentation.

25. Regarding the management of sites, a member of the Committee questioned the limits to the possibility of intervention by the Committee and the Secretariat. The Secretariat explained that national authorities, whose collaboration was obviously indispensable, were always informed.

26. The possibility of intervention by the private sector in activities of safeguarding and development of World Heritage was raised. A delegate considered that progress in this field remained far below desirable levels. For instance, various difficulties encountered by a high visiting capacity of the sites could be solved through co­operation with, private associations.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1991
Date of Inscription: 1980
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 15COM (1991)

* : 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.