1.         Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 20bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)

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/20/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1981-1994)
Total amount approved: USD 106,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/20/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

November-December 1995: experts mission; August 1997: UNESCO experts mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Reconstruction works

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/20/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

Mosque of the Omayyades

During its twentieth session, the Committee was informed of the results of the expert mission sent by UNESCO from 29 November to 5 December 1996, and thanked the Syrian authorities for having subsequently halted the work which threatened the authenticity of the monument.  The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has since confirmed that all new interventions had been abandoned and that a Committee would examine what should be done in the future.

Tekiya Souleymaniah

The General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums had requested UNESCO to send an expert mission to advise the authorities on the problems of structural consolidation of this mosque dating back to the 16th century, and built on the remains of a Mameluke palace.  This mission, comprising two experts, visited the site from 7 to 11 February 1997 and reported the following conclusions:

1) The construction did not appear to be in any imminent danger.  Certain damage indicated had even been the subject of official correspondence about thirty years ago.

However, consolidation work would be required.  The experts feel this work should be preceded by studies taking into account the whole structure and the specificities of the building and not just the decrease in groundwater level.

The scientific observation of the damage to the building which was carried out recently is very useful and should be continued, even if its results can only be interpreted and exploited at a later date.  It would also be appropriate to envisage the use of even more refined observation techniques, with possible outside assistance.

2) On the other hand, the imminent launching of  an international call for tenders for the foundation work is causing them great concern, as they feel that this is premature and that fundamental and secondary technical options would be delegated to private enterprises.  Rather than a hasty choice based on economical concerns, they advise waiting until a decision based on scientific conclusions can be made.

The three technical interventions proposed (injection, compression or micro-post underpinning) are delicate and it would be wiser to first make sure that their inevitable lengthy and progressive installation is truly without risk to the stability and security of this precious monument.

Action Required

After having taken note of the report of the Secretariat on the Mosque of the Omayyades in the Ancient City of Damascus, the Bureau thanked the Syrian authorities for having halted the work which was threatening the authenticity of the monument and renewed the invitation which had been made by the Committee at its twentieth session to provide all possible advice of national and international experts to decide upon future action to be undertaken.

After having taken note of the report of the Secretariat concerning the situation at Tekiya Souleymaniah in the Ancient City of Damascus, the Bureau requested the Syrian authorities to postpone the call for tenders until the necessary additional information in order to take a well-informed decision on the nature and exact extent of the work to be carried out is available.  It strongly advised against making a hasty and purely technical decision which would put endanger rather than preserve the monument, and cause serious and irreversible damage.

As soon as the Syrian authorities confirm that all parties concerned are in agreement to postpone the call for tenders, and to take the time for an additional scientific study to determine the best intervention possible, the World Heritage Centre will be ready to examine with them the most appropriate means for its implementation.


21st extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1997:
After having taken note of the Secretariat's report concerning the situation at Tekiya Souleymaniah in the Ancient City of Damascus, the Bureau thanked the Syrian authorities for having co-operated with the UNESCO experts, and requested them to prepare the next tender in co-operation with UNESCO, in order to proceed with the project in the light of its experts' recommendations and inform the Secretariat before 31 March 1998 of the progress made.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

Tekiya Suleymaniah:

In August 1997, three UNESCO experts undertook a mission to the site in co-operation with the Syrian authorities and jointly examined the offers to the tender that the Ministry of Awqaf had launched for the underground consolidation work of Tekiya Suleymaniah. Since no appropriate offers to the tender were received, their work could not be accomplished. In their mission report submitted to the authorities, the experts strongly recommended that any consolidation work should be preceded by careful studies taking into account the whole structure and the specificity of the building and not just the decrease in groundwater level.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 21 BUR IV.B.57

a)   Mosque of the Omayyades 

After having taken note of the report of the Secretariat on the Mosque of the Omayyades in the Ancient City of Damascus, the Bureau thanked the Syrian authorities for having halted the work which was threatening the authenticity of the monument and renewed the invitation which had been made by the Committee at its twentieth session to provide all possible advice of national and international experts to decide upon future action to be undertaken

b) Tekiya Souleymaniah

After having taken note of the report of the Secretariat on the situation at the Tekiya Souleymaniah in the Ancient City of Damascus, and the letter dated 21 June from the Direction of Antiquities and Museums, the Bureau thanked the authorities of the Arab Republic of Syria to have halted the calls for tender for foundation work at the monument and asked them to keep the Committee informed of the results of the additional scientific and technical studies.

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.C.55

VII.55 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-first extraordinary session of the Bureau on the following cultural properties as reflected in the report of the Bureau session, Working Documents WHC-97/CONF.208/4B Section III.C.c):

Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site (El Salvador)

Le Canal du Midi (France)

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (France)

Ashanti Traditional Buildings (Ghana)

Maya Site of Copan (Honduras)

Agra Fort, Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri (India)

Quseir Amra (Jordan)

Town of Luang Prabang (Lao People's Democratic Republic)

Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan (Mexico)

Ilha de Mozambique (Mozambique)

Moenjodaro (Pakistan)

Baroque Churches of the Philippines (Philippines)

Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (Spain)

Cultural World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka

Ancient City of Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic)

Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey)

Itchan Kala, Historic Centre of Bukhara (Uzbekistan)

Shibam and Zabid (Yemen).