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Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Sri Lanka
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of maintenance of historic buildings
  • Lack of control on building activities within the World Heritage historic centre
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 1 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved : 3,334 USD
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2001

Previous deliberations:
Twenty-third session of the World Heritage Bureau (IV.80)

Main Issues:

Lack of maintenance of historic buildings and lack of control on building activities within the World Heritage historic centre, resulting in serious deterioration and deformation of the existing cultural-historic fabric.

New information:

During a mission to the Ancient City of Sigiriya in central Sri Lanka in April 2001, the Deputy-Director of the Centre undertook a short visit to examine the state of conservation of Galle. The main historic building, the Dutch Reformed Church dating from the 17th century, is in a very poor state of conservation requiring urgent action, notably in the reparation of the roof and stain glass windows to prevent rainwater infiltration. Moreover, the extent of deformation to the urban historic fabric caused by uncontrolled building activities is undermining the authenticity of this town characterized by the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese and Indian building traditions.

Action Required

The Bureau requests the Sri Lankan authorities to strengthen control on building permits and activities in the city and allocate funds for the maintenance of the historic monuments. The Bureau invites the State Party to submit an international assistance request to elaborate a programme of corrective measures.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001
25 BUR V.241-243
Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (Sri Lanka)

V.241     The Bureau was informed that the Deputy Director of the Centre, who visited the site in April 2001, observed the urgently required conservation needs of the main historic building, the 17th century Dutch Reformed Church, notably the need to repair the roof and stain-glass windows to prevent rainwater infiltration. Moreover, the Bureau took note with concern, of the extent of deformation to the urban historic fabric which undermines the authenticity of this town, characterized by the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese and Indian building traditions. ICOMOS expressed its full agreement with the observations of the Deputy Director of the Centre. It added that there was now a Centre for urban studies in Galle directed by the President of ICOMOS Sri Lanka which was addressing the problems of Galle as a matter of urgency.

V.242     The Bureau examined the state of conservation of the site, noting that the historic centre suffered serious deterioration and deformation of the existing cultural-historic fabric due to lack of maintenance of the historic buildings and lack of control on building activities. The Bureau requested the Sri Lankan authorities to strengthen control on building permits and activities in the City and allocate funds for the maintenance of the historic monuments. The Bureau invited the State Party to submit an international assistance request to elaborate a programme of corrective measures.

V.243     The Observer of Sri Lanka, drawing the attention of the Bureau to the challenges facing the authorities in conserving and managing changes within a "living" City of Galle, underscored the importance of elaborating a specific conservation and development plan for this World Heritage site. 

Report year: 2001
Sri Lanka
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 25COM (2001)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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