Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania) (C 569bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2005
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/569/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 44,964
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount granted: USD 1,367,014 is provided by the Albanian Government within the framework of the project 933 ALB 4000 “Safeguarding and restoration of selected monuments within the World Heritage site of the Old City of Gjirokaster – Albania”
Previous monitoring missions
November 2012: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Illegal construction dating from the late 1990s
- Lack of specific monitoring indicators
- Lack of programme of archaeological excavations
- Lack of adequate fire fighting arrangements in the historic urban zone
- Lack of detailed tourism development plan
- Management activities
- Management systems/ management plan
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015
On 1 February 2014 and 4 February 2015 respectively, the State Party submitted substantial reports on the state of conservation, which are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/documents/. The reports provide detailed information on a number of conservation, emergency stabilisation and restoration works and addresses the issues identified by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013), as follows:
- Legal framework: The Ministry of Culture has prepared a new draft Law on Cultural Heritage, scheduled for approval by July 2015. Also, a regulation for the protection, integrated conservation and administration of the historic centre, and buffer zone of the city of Berat has been approved in November 2014. A corresponding regulation for Gjirokastra has been drafted for approval by the Council of Ministers in 2015.
- Illegal construction: Owing to the moratorium on construction imposed in Gjirokastra since October 2013, a dramatic decrease in illegal interventions has been reported. Around 13 illegal urban development cases are being dealt with by the responsible authority.
- Management system: The Coordination Committee for the Management of the Historic Centres of Gjirokastra and Berat, established in January 2014, is composed of representatives from national and regional authorities and the Municipalities of Berat and Gjirokastra, thus ensuring coordinated management of the property.
- Development of detailed monitoring indicators related to OUV: The main attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) have been indicated on maps and photographs. The Regional Directorates for Cultural Heritage (RDNC) have updated the report files on the state of conservation of monuments in the property and buffer zone. The RDNC of Gjirokastra will complete the report files for second category monuments in 2015.
- Fire prevention strategy: The need for a risk management plan as part of the integrated management plan has been recognised by the authorities, and assistance has been requested by the State Party. Projects for water supply and fire hydrants are ongoing or in approval process for the two historic centres.
- Training on risk management and sustainable tourism has been provided in November 2014 to two site managers at a regional workshop organised in Sophia, Bulgaria by UNESCO.
- Awareness raising: Several cultural heritage educational and awareness raising activities have been carried out despite financial constraints, to help the local community and private owners understand the importance of the World Heritage values, conservation and maintenance and involving them in the decision-making process.
- Restoration work at Berat Castle: The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) carried out for the project deems the impact as negligible.
- By-pass road project: The State Party reports on a project for a by-pass road in the historic centre of Gjirokastra and the conversion of the bazaar into a pedestrian zone. On 24 February 2015, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to provide additional information on the project.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Noting the efforts undertaken to respond to its recommendations, the Committee may wish to commend the State Party for the preparation of the new draft Law and encourage its timely adoption and implementation. Further noted is the progress made with controlling illegal constructions, the maintenance and conservation works as well as the awareness raising and educational initiatives.
Although steps have been taken to improve procedures on protection and management, the State Party should proceed as a matter of urgency with the adoption and implementation of the Regulation for Gjirokastra. In addition, while the Coordination Committee since January 2014 reviews matters related to management and conservation of both cities, the development of an integrated management plan for the property as a whole remains a priority for 2015.
Concerning the monitoring of current conditions, it is noted that file reports on the state of conservation of monuments in the property and its buffer zone are being completed. However, the State Party reports do not clarify whether the authorities have prepared monitoring indicators in relation to the OUV, as requested by the Committee. Therefore the State Party should continue the processes of monitoring and controlling development, and prepare a focused set of monitoring indicators with a clear articulation of the attributes of OUV.
While the project for risk reduction of fire in the Municipality of Berat responds to the need for risk management, there remains an urgent need to install fire hydrants at Gjirokastra.
The HIA carried out for the restoration work at Berat Castle refers to a second phase. Given the potential impacts some of these interventions could have, e.g. in relation to the location and shaping of the parking area, it is recommended that a HIA, in relation to the OUV, be carried out for the sum of proposed interventions to ensure that no negative impacts occur and to inform potential revisions to foreseen projects.
The by-pass road project seems not to have been based on a thorough review of the infrastructural situation of the historic centre in Gjirokastra. It is suggested that this analysis be carried out prior to any decisions are taken. The results of a thorough study should be provided to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for review. The coordinated Tourism Development Strategy, which was recommended by the mission in 2012, should also provide essential guidance for future infrastructural modifications such as the need for parking areas, information points etc.
The World Heritage Centre has received information about a call for proposals for development projects on the Island of Osumi, located within the buffer zone of the property, and additional information from the State Party was requested by the World Heritage Centre on 9 March 2015. The State Party should be reminded to provide to the World Heritage Centre any development proposals before their official approval in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines for review by the Advisory Bodies.
Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.75
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.70, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
- Welcomes the efforts undertaken by the State Party to respond to the recommendations of the Committee and those of the ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission (2012), and encourages the State Party to proceed with the timely adoption and implementation of the new draft Law on Cultural Heritage as well as the new Regulation on the protection, conservation and management of the historic centre of Gjirokastra and its buffer zone;
- Notes the progress made with controlling illegal constructions, the maintenance and conservation works, as well as the awareness raising and educational initiatives, and requests the State Party to continue to implement the previous recommendations, in particular:
- Develop an overarching integrated management plan, including a risk management component with threat mitigation measures,
- Ensure that the Tourism Development Strategy correlates with the management plan and Urban Developments plans, aiming to strike a balance between the creation of economic activity and the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV),
- Continue the processes of monitoring and controlling development, and prepare a focused set of monitoring indicators with a clear articulation of the attributes of OUV,
- Maintain the moratorium on any new constructions within the World Heritage property and its buffer zone, until the approval of the new Regulation for the protection, conservation and integrated management of the historic centre of Gjirokastra and its buffer zone,
- Continue the efforts to address the need of fire hydrants in both historic centres;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the results of a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) concerning the entirety of the rehabilitation project at Berat Castle, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Further requests the State Party to prepare a thorough study of the infrastructural situation of the historic centre of Gjirokastra prior to any decision is taken concerning the by-pass road and the conversion of the bazaar into a pedestrian area, and provide details of the project and the results of the study to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Also encourages the State Party to continue to provide to the World Heritage Centre any development proposals before their official approval in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2015 and 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.