1.         City of Quito (Ecuador) (C 2)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (ii)(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/2/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 391,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/2/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

March 2009: joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/2/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

On 31 January 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report includes comprehensive information about the current conditions at the property and the measures being implemented. It also includes a report about the proposed project for the Quito subway as well as current proposals for interventions at the architectural ensemble of the Society of Jesus.

a)  Management of the property

The State Party indicates that provisions for the management of the property are inserted in the planning processes of the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito. The Municipality has in place, since 1988, a comprehensive planning system to respond to urban, socioeconomic, environmental and natural factors under three basic principles: democratization, decentralization and participation. The territory is divided into eight metropolitan zones; the Historic Centre of Quito falls under the Administration Zone Centre “Manuela Saenz” which is the operating and implementing body of the local government. In practice, it is responsible for the maintenance and development of public spaces and buildings, for the preservation of the environment, the promotion of sustainable development and for ensuring public participation, which are in turn supervised by different thematic offices at the municipal level (for example, the culture secretariat, the social inclusion secretariat, etc). The Metropolitan Institute of Cultural Heritage, a special unit added to the organic structure of the Municipality, plays a significant role as a technical unit with administrative and financial autonomy. This entity has the competencies and specific mandates in terms of restoration, conservation and protection of historic, artistic and religious cultural properties at the Metropolitan District of Quito. The National Institute for Cultural Heritage (INPC) maintains a supervisory role, as mandated by national level legislation.

The management arrangements in place consider a territorial model, with concrete mechanisms to ensure citizens’ participation. The Special Plan for the Historic Centre of Quito, published in 2003, continues to be the principal management framework to guide decision-making at the historic centre. Additional planning tools include the land use plan, the development plan for the district territory and the comprehensive programs for intervention. In addition to this, in 2012, the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the Coordinating Ministry of Heritage and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development developed a framework for interagency cooperation which seeks the holistic revitalization of the historic Centre. Work has subsequently been undertaken to identify appropriate management mechanisms and the implementation of the action plan that would entail significant interventions at the Historic Centre.

The State Party notes the different funding sources that exist today. It also notes that with the management model, alternatives for financing have been explored not only at the institutional level but with respect to the creation of alliances with the private sector, leading to the adoption of an associative public-private model. 

b)  Interventions at the property

Throughout the years, conservation and rehabilitation works have been implemented at the different historic buildings. With the recently created interagency alliance, and consequently the streamlining of resources, it is expected that investments will be made. The Programme for the Revitalization of the Historic Centre of Quito is also intended to strengthen interventions at the property, incorporated within the dimensions of social and economic development. It identifies five main areas for interventions in which actions geared toward the following will be implemented: public space and equipment; housing; mobility, public safety; communication and promotion; culture, heritage and education; social management; economic sustainability, private investment and tourism. The State Party has provided a chart for investments for 2013 which include projects for interventions at several sectors that include heritage buildings.

In addition, the Metropolitan Development Plan 2012-2020 has also been developed which includes provisions for the protection of cultural heritage, public spaces, social housing, among others. Among the actions foreseen, the painting of facades, the improvement of sidewalks, street lighting, waste management, restoration of heritage buildings for social housing, are mentioned. It is also noted that the Metropolitan Heritage Institute has updated the inventory of heritage buildings and their state of conservation, which will be used as the basis for the identification of priority interventions.

c)  Quito subway project

A comprehensive report on the Quito Subway at the Historic Centre was annexed to the state of conservation report submitted by the State Party. It provides details on the proposal for the first line to be constructed, particularly on the aspects that pertain to the inscribed property. The foreseen duration of the project is 3 years and the estimated cost is 1,386 million dollars. Feasibility, engineering and archaeological surveys have already been carried out to assist in the decision making for the definition of potential routes. As it stands, the proposed route does not pass below heritage buildings and, given the depth, it does not affect monuments or other public and urban spaces. In the provided documentation, specifications for mitigation measures before, during and after construction have been identified as part of the studies. There will be one metro station to service the historic centre and several alternatives for its proposed location were explored. Given the results derived from the studies, only 2 choices were considered as viable options: one to be located at Plaza de San Francisco or another to be at the Plaza del Teatro. However, the subsequent sections only focus on the analysis of Plaza de San Francisco and no clear explanation is provided on why the second option was not analysed in depth. The study concludes that the works to be carried out for the construction of Line 1 of the Quito Subway would not have impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The proposed designs and mitigation and management measures take into account the attributes of the property and its conditions of authenticity and integrity. Nevertheless, the potential impacts associated to the option for a station at Plaza del Teatro, instead of Plaza de San Francisco was not considered. Given the particular characteristics of the latter, its role as an emblematic part of the World Heritage property, and the anticipated flow of 24,000 people per day, it would be important to consider the location at Plaza del Teatro as a main option.

d)  Project proposals for the architectural ensemble of the Society of Jesus

The State Party also submitted technical information for two project proposals for the architectural ensemble of the Society of Jesus. The first of these is for the rehabilitation of space to be used as a hotel. The technical information submitted includes an updated assessment of the current conservation conditions and the interventions that are foreseen at all levels, from actions to address structural conditions to those related to the existing decorated surfaces and carpentry works. For the construction of the hotel, two sublevels would need to be added under the south patio for the infrastructure needed for the hotel operation. Significant structural modifications and adaptations, within the northern portion of the ensemble, are foreseen to create a third level by breaking up the heights of the second level. The proposal also notes the creation of a Jesuit Cultural Centre that will integrate the Church of the Society of Jesus, the bell tower and the Chapels of St. Joseph, of the Miracles and of the Knights, all of them significant architectural and religious components of the ensemble. 


The second project proposal pertains to the volumetric and formal recovery of the bell tower. With the interventions, it is also proposed that the bell tower would be used for tourism purposes, serving as an observation tower for the historic centre. Therefore, the project proposal still considers the incorporation of an elevator. For the project, a preliminary assessment has been carried out of the conditions at the property and of the history of the bell tower. The current proposal entails the conservation of the existing remains plus the construction of additional 7 meters to finish the top of the tower. 

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies welcome the cooperation between the major institutions and the definition of the revitalization programme. However, they recommend that the Committee express its concern about some of the activities proposed that include demolition and new construction. They consider it is essential that the State Party provides further details on the precise location of the areas and on the scope of the activities foreseen so that adequate guidance can be provided. They also consider that additional information should be presented on whether all planning tools developed to date will be integrated into a single management plan for the property, in particular, a comprehensive conservation plan.


The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the technical information provided for both projects foreseen for the architectural ensemble of the Society of Jesus. However, no specific heritage impact assessments were included which are particularly relevant in light of the extensive interventions foreseen for the rehabilitation of architectural spaces of the hotel. These studies are necessary for informed decision-making and to ascertain what the adequate course of action would be for each sector and phase of the project. They also note that the project for the bell tower has reduced the proposal for construction of additional floors and would now only include the finish for the top of the tower. This would be more appropriate in terms of the existing skyline of the historic centre. They however would mention that an elevator is still foreseen and that no technical specifications for security measures have been included. 

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.97

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.124 , adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2010),

3.  Takes notes of the information provided by the State Party on the actions implemented in terms of enhancing the conservation and management of the property;

4.  Also takes note of the submission by the State Party of a Heritage Impact Assessment, including technical, environmental and social studies concerning the option of the two metro stations in the historical centre;

5.  Recommends that the State Party consider the implementation of the following measures:

a)  Integration of all existing planning tools into a management plan, with a clear management structure,

b)  Development of a single comprehensive conservation plan, with details on costs and timeframes for implementation at different heritage sectors, on the established guidelines and criteria for interventions on the anticipated changes in use,

c)  Development of a heritage impact assessment, in accordance with ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties , for the proposed interventions at the architectural ensemble of the Compañía de Jesús;

6.  Welcomes the State Party’s invitation for an ICOMOS advisory mission to be financed by the State Party to evaluate the state of conservation of the property, the conservation, protection and management arrangements, including the alternatives for location of the metro stations and its related infrastructure, and provide guidance on the development of the conservation plan and the integration of the planning tools;

7.  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. 

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Documents WHC-13/37.COM/8E and WHC-13/37.COM/8E.Add,

2.  Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;

3.  Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-13/37.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

4.  Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;

5.  Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

6.  Requests the World Heritage Centre to harmonise all sub-headings in the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value where appropriate and when resources and staff time allow to carry out this work;

7.  Also requests the State Parties, Advisory Bodies and World Heritage Centre to ensure the use of gender-neutral language in the Statements proposed for adoption to the World Heritage Committee;

8.  Further requests the World Heritage Centre to keep the adopted Statements in line with subsequent decisions by the World Heritage Committee concerning name changes of World Heritage properties, and to reflect them throughout the text of the Statements, in consultation with States Parties and Advisory Bodies;

9.  Finally requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and finally requests the Centre to upload these onto its web-pages.