1.         Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower (Azerbaijan) (C 958)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2000

Criteria  (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/958/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1998-1998)
Total amount approved: USD 15,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/958/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

October 2002 : joint UNESCO/ICOMOS technical mission 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Heritage buildings and houses demolished and replaced by new structures

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/958/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

A joint UNESCO/ICOMOS technical mission was undertaken to the site in October 2002 as requested by the Committee to review the situation in Baku. The mission observed that the concerns expressed by the Committee at the time of the inscription have not yet been resolved. Increasing urban development pressures have worsened the situation in the Old City of Baku. An earthquake, which struck the City in November 2000 with the strength of approximately 6.7 on the Richter scale, added to this process of destruction. Activities within the site are not co-ordinated and not based on any up-to-date maps of the area due to the lack of a comprehensive management, conservation and development plan.

The mission found that the maps available and presented in the nomination dossier have never been updated and the damage caused by the earthquake or subsequent changes (demolitions, reconstructions, etc) have not been documented cartographically. Several new building complexes and other construction projects have introduced new materials, styles and additional floor levels. Changes have also been made to the width of streets and alleyways and the introduction of different road surfaces, all of which have had a considerable impact on the historic and traditional urban fabric of the site. The destruction of individual buildings, including a number of important edifices, has had a negative impact on the integrity of the site, especially the loss of architectural substances following the earthquake of 2000. The process of destruction and redevelopment clearly threatens the authenticity of the site, and stands in contradiction to the justification for its inscription on the World Heritage List.

In light of the findings, discussed in the mission report (Paragraphs B.1, B.2, C.1. and C.2), the joint UNESCO-ICOMOS mission concluded that the Walled City of Baku (Icheri Sheher) with the Shirvanshah's Palace and the Maiden Tower meets the conditions defined in the Operational Guidelines, paragraph 82 (i), Ascertained Danger: b. serious deterioration of structure and/or ornamental features, c. serious deterioration of architectural or town-planning coherence and e. significant loss of historical authenticity. Furthermore, in accordance with Paragraphs A.2, B.1, B.2 and B.3, it meets conditions defined in the Operational Guidelines, paragraph 82 (ii) Potential Threats: b. lack of conservation policy and d. threatening effects of town planning.

In January 2003, the ADG/CLT undertook a mission to Baku. On this occasion the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan issued a Presidential Decree which calls for the suspension of all construction projects, excluding restoration projects, and requests reports on the current situation of the site as well as management of the site to be undertaken. Furthermore, at the time of the preparation of this report, an expert meeting was planned by the authorities of Azerbaijan to discuss urban development issues at the site. The report of the UNESCO-ICOMOS international mission is included in document INF.7 D.

During a recent mission to Baku (21 to 24 April 2003), two UNESCO experts in urban conservation attended a workshop on the restoration, conservation and safeguarding of the Inner City of Baku (Icheri Sheher), organized by the Ministry of Culture. The experts confirmed the findings of the UNESCO-ICOMOS mission regarding lack of management of the site and the issues of authenticity. In addition, closer examination of the reconstruction works in the Shirvanshah's Palace Complex pointed to some additional concerns regarding technical aspects of the restoration. In particular, the use of cement mortar and reinforced concrete frames seriously compromises the authenticity of the structure as well as the seismic performance of the masonry wall structures in the case of an earthquake. Furthermore, the insertion of modern services such as electricity cabling has damaged the integrity of the historic stonework and the flooring of the buildings needs to be protected from the ongoing works (i.e. mixing of mortar on the historic surfaces). 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.59

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Regrets that it was not informed at the time of inscription in 2000 that an earthquake had just taken place;

2. Acknowledging the recent efforts of the national authorities to address the issues of conservation at the property,;

3. Welcomes the newly signed Presidential Decree as an important step towards the legal protection and future safeguarding of the property;

4. Notes with concern the state of conservation of the property and expresses its deepest concerns over the considerable loss of authenticity due in part to the earthquake in 2000 and to the urban development pressures;

5. Decides to inscribe the Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the urgency of the situation and to ensure that concerted efforts by the State Party are made to halt ongoing demolition of historic buildings;

6. Requests the State Party to work in close collaboration with the World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Cultural Heritage Division, ICOMOS and ICCROM, to set up a plan of action to address the issues mentioned above, and to jointly elaborate a comprehensive management and conservation plan and ensure the future preservation of the property;

7. Further requests the Secretariat, ICOMOS and ICCROM to provide a detailed report on the situation, including whether or not the outstanding universal value of the property is maintained, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004.

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 8B.1

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following examination of state of conservation reports of properties on the World Heritage List  (WHC-03/27.COM/7B) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-03/27.COM/8C),;

2. Decides to inscribe the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: