1.         Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Georgia) (C 708bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2009-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4103   

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4103 

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/4103 

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/708/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 96,160
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/708/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November 2003, June 2008, March 2010 and April 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a)  Lack of a management mechanism (issue resolved);

b)  Lack of definition of the property and of the buffer zones (issue resolved);

c)  Insufficient coordination between the Georgian Church and the national authorities (issue resolved);

d)  Privatisation of surrounding land;

e)  Natural erosion of stone;

f)  Loss of authenticity during recent works carried out by the Church;

g)  Inappropriate urban development within a sensitive historical environment.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/708/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 31 January 2013, the State Party submitted a detailed state of conservation report that addresses the progress made with the implementation of the corrective measures in view of the future removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger.

a)  Boundary issues

The draft Management plan elaborated in 2012 and submitted to the World Heritage Centre in November 2012 envisages a definition of the management area which is also a proposed buffer zone of the property. No minor boundary modification has been submitted yet as the draft management plan is under review by the Advisory Bodies. The National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia plans to continue the topographic and archaeological surface surveys.

b)  Management Plan

The elaboration of the draft management plan has been piloted by a Steering Committee and elaborated with the participation of a large number of stakeholders. The authorities envisage signing an agreement between the stakeholders to assign specific responsibilities concerning the implementation of the Management Plan. The State Party underlined in the report that the new government of Georgia, in place since October 2012, considers the possibility of the development of a national law for World Heritage. The State Party also envisages the inclusion of the Management Plan in the respective Georgian legislation and making it a mandatory instrument for management of the World Heritage properties in Georgia.

ICOMOS has provided comments on the Plan which stress the need to clearly identify the attributes of outstanding universal value as the basis for the Plan, as well as the need for legal and planning protection. The plan underlines the importance of the ‘natural, ‘cultural’ and ‘urban’ environment but, if these are to be protected and sustained, a clearer understanding of their scope and relationship to Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is needed, and of the proposed legislative and planning tools.

c)  Urban development pressure and Urban Land Use Master Plan 

The State Party report informs that the developments within the property and its setting have been halted and that different possibilities are explored to mitigate the impact of already implemented interventions. Possibilities are also being explored to stop all development works in the vicinity of the property within the sensitive area of the river Mtkvari bank, between the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari church. The system of cultural heritage protection zones, introduced in 2006, was amended on 17 September 2012 by the decree of the Prime Minister of Georgia, to allow controlled developments in certain parts of the town. The State Party also informs that the elaboration of a Land Use Master Plan, which has been temporarily suspended in 2012, will be finalized in 2013.

On 21 February 2013, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by ICOMOS, an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project of a waste water treatment plant for the town of Mtskheta, proposed to be located in a sensitive area on the right bank of the river Aragvi.

ICOMOS considers that the proposed plant would have a very high negative impact on the whole panorama of the area between Jvari Church and the city of Mtskheta. The plant would be sited in the open flat area, between the Svetiskoveli church and one of the most respected religious monuments in Georgia, Jvari Church, and the third important monumental element in Mtskheta, namely the Armaztikhe acropolis. If built, the view of it from Jvari church, the highest point of the area, would be practically impossible to conceal, regardless of its height or of the planned 400 trees, because the tanks would appear directly in the view. The significance of the chosen site is further reinforced by the “A Heritage and Tourism Master Plan for Mtskheta, Georgia, UNESCO/UNDP Pilot Project, Final report, 2003, Paris”, which describes the site as significant for its connection between the natural environment and the monumental components of the property, and by the Management Plan.

d)  Long-term consolidation, conservation and monitoring measures

Jvari Monastery

The State Party reported that the two year stone conservation programme of this monument was completed in 2012 by ICCROM. The conservation of the stone relief of Jvari main church as well as other important fragments is completed according to highest international standards. The project implied (a) conservation of the relief depicting angels bearing up the Holy Cross above the entrance to the church, (b) conservation work on the hood moulds above the windows on the eastern façade of the church, (c) evaluation of the efficiency of the conservation of the reliefs on the apse of the Church. 

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

The State Party informed that a long term stone conservation programme is planned for Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. In 2012 the preliminary assessment and stone types survey was carried out. The conservation of most urgent parts will take place in 2013 and will continue further according to the set schedule. International experts, including an ICCROM expert, have been contracted to elaborate short and long-term action plans for different conservation issues of the Cathedral. The conclusions of the 2012 preliminary assessment mission were submitted by the State Party, as part of the report. A safety assessment is planned for 2013. The emergency consolidation works of endangered stone parts (the upper part of the Western façade) is planned to be implemented in 2013 by the ICCROM expert.

Armaztsikhe-Bagineti archaeological site

The National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, with financial support from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, implemented conservation and rehabilitation of this archeological site that included: (a) conservation of the “King’s bathhouse”, (b) conservation of the gymnasium, (c) cleaning of the site, (d) development of infrastructure of the site.

e)  State Programme for Cultural Heritage in Georgia - towards a strategic World Heritage country programming

The State Party report highlights the interest of the new government to develop, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a “5C” Strategic World Heritage Programme.

f)  Other issues

With a view of obtaining Enhanced Protection of Mtskheta in compliance with the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the State authorities also prepared a dossier on the World Heritage property of Mtskheta as part of the project “War Free World Heritage cities” within the programme “Cooperation in Urban Development and Dialogue” (CIUDAD).   

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the efforts made by the State Party in the implementation of the corrective measures, including the elaboration of a Management Plan and the implementation of the multi component conservation programme. They take note that the definition of the buffer zone will be put forward for approval, once the Management Plan has been adopted.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies point out that while the State Party has halted the developments within the property and its setting and that different possibilities are explored to mitigate the impact of already implemented interventions, it should also, in conformity with the adopted corrective measures: (a) Establish clear operating plans and strict limits to development rights and management regulations within the property and its buffer zone to ensure long term protection and conservation of the property; (b) Ensure that development rights on existing private or leased lands are clearly defined and strictly controlled; (c) Adopt and implement the Urban Land-Use Master Plan of the City of Mstkheta, including all aspects of infrastructure rehabilitation, zoning regulations with particular emphasis on the establishment of no-construction zones; (d) Make publicly available the information on land-use for all lands within the property and its buffer zone, in easily accessible format, to ensure transparency in land-use and allocations.

They also note the potential high negative impact of the proposed water treatment plant on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and consider that notwithstanding the desirability of building such a plant, a new location needs to be chosen that does not impact on the extremely important links between the religious monuments and the riverside landscape that provides their essential context, as is identified in the Management Plan.

Taking into account that the property is an ensemble of religious monuments within a very sensitive historical environment, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the World Heritage Committee retain the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Georgia) on the List of World Heritage in Danger until the adoption of the Urban Land-Use Master Plan which takes into consideration the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, its specific landscape setting, as well as important views and connection lines.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7A.33

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7A,

2.   Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7A.27 , 35 COM 7A.30 and 36 COM 7A.31, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively,

3.   Acknowledges the detailed information provided by the State Party on the progress made to implement the corrective measures and urges the State Party to continue its work on all the corrective measures adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010);

4.   Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit a minor boundary modification proposal for a unified buffer zone of the property to enhance the protection of the property and to allow a clear understanding of the archaeological and visually sensitive areas around the property;

5.   Notes that a draft Management Plan was submitted by the State Party and encourages the State Party to strengthen the Plan by clearly identifying the attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value as the basis for legal protection, planning processes and management;

6.   Also notes that the State Party has halted inappropriate developments within the property and its setting and also urges the State Party to finalize the Urban Land-Use Master Plan, including zoning regulations with particular emphasis on the establishment of no-construction zones, strict limits to development rights and a conservation master plan and which should take into consideration the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, its specific landscape setting, as well as important views and connection lines;

7.   Encourages the State Party to adopt as a matter of urgency the Urban Land-Use Master Plan as a major step towards the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger;

8.   Notes with concern that the proposed location of the waste water treatment plant would have a highly negative impact on the sensitive river landscape that forms the setting for the monuments, and requests the State Party as a matter of urgency to re-locate the plant to a position that does not impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

9.   Takes note that the State Party plans to develop a national law for World Heritage properties in Georgia, as well as a “5C World Heritage Programming Approach”;  

10.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014 , an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014; 

11.  Decides to retain the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Georgia) on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-13/37.COM/7A, WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add and WHC-13/37.COM/7A.Add.
  2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: