1.         Historic Areas of Istanbul (Türkiye) (C 356bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (i)(ii)(iii)(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/356/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 432,208
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

November 1993: expert mission; October 1998: joint UNESCO / ICOMOS monitoring mission; April 1999: World Heritage Centre mission; October-November 2000: UNESCO expert mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003

The €7 million project designed by the World Heritage Centre in 1998-99 and approved by the European Commission, became operational from January 2003. This project for urban renewal of the Fatih District through social housing policies and social development actions, is expected to create a new dynamic in the project target areas of Balat and Fener, but also in the adjacent area of Zeyrek which is one of the four core World Heritage protected areas.

In February 2003, the Centre reviewed the results of the social economic survey of the inhabitants and the building condition survey of Zeyrek, Yenikapi and Suleymaniye areas of Historic Istanbul, where the Ottoman period timber buidings still exist. This study financed by the World Heritage Fund and carried out by the Istanbul Technical University (ITU), demonstrated the critical condition of the extant buildings and the inability of the poor inhabitants to conserve these buildings without public aid. UNESCO/WHC and ICOMOS-Turkey recommended the following:

1. Extension of social housing credit from TOKI (government housing agency) for the renewal of Zeyrek and Yenikapi (both part of Fatih Municipality); development of a new project proposal for €1.5 million for submission to EC by Zeyrek Conservation Association (Turkish NGO) and consortium of European NGOs;

2. Negotiations with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for the funding of the rehabilitation of the timber building area of Yenikapi, located next to the proposed new train station, where the tunnel under Bosphorus is expected to emerge;

3. Development of a project proposal for submission to the World Heritage Committee for a demonstration conservation of one Ottoman epoch timber building in Zeyrek to be used as a local community advisory centre (linked to the Fatih Heritage House in Fener managing the € 7 million EC funded project);

4. Review of the draft urban conservation plan at 1/1000 scale of Fatih and Eminonu Districts integrated as part of the urban plan of Greater Istanbul.

The mission expressed great concern that the urban plan abrogated in 1997 has not yet been replaced, despite assurances from the State Party received by letter of 2 August 2000, of the imminent enactment of a new plan. Moreover, noting the continued deterioration of the state of conservation of the Ottoman epoch timber buildings of Zeyrek, the mission recommends that the Committee, at its 28th session in 2004, consider the inscription of the Historic Areas of Istanbul on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.79

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Expresses its appreciation to the State Party for submitting the draft zoning of the Historic Peninsula of Istanbul to the World Heritage Centre for comments;

2. Recalling the repeated concerns expressed by the World Heritage Committee over the delay in the approval of a new urban conservation plan since the abrogation of the previous plan in 1997, and the deterioration of the Ottoman epoch timber buildings in Zeyrek,;

3. Further recalling concerns over the impact of the construction of the subway system on the archaeological deposits in the historic peninsula of Istanbul,;

4. Noting the reports on probable additional disturbances to the archaeological remains and the timber building neighbourhood of Yenikapi which could be caused by the construction of the planned station building for the urban train system, 

5. Requests the State Party to complete and enact the new urban conservation plan without further delay and to make available the technical and financial resources required for emergency measures to prevent the collapse of the timber buildings, particularly in Zeyrek;

6. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS to support the State Party in seeking international support to halt further loss of the historic urban fabric of Istanbul;

7. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 a report on the above to enable the World Heritage Committee, at its 28th session in 2004, to consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in the absence of tangible remedial measures to prevent the loss of World Heritage value of this property.