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Historic Areas of Istanbul

Türkiye
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Underground transport infrastructure
  • Other Threats:

    Continued degradation of the vernacular architecture within the protected zones (particularly Ottoman-period timber houses in the Zeyrek and Süleymaniye core areas); Land Reclamation project

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Continued degradation of the vernacular architecture within the protected zones (particularly Ottoman-period timber houses in the Zeyrek and Süleymaniye core areas)
  • Quality of repairs and reconstruction of the Roman and Byzantine Walls and associated palace structures, including Tekfur Saray and the "Anemas Dungeon" (Blachernae Palace)
  • Development and absence of a World Heritage management plan (issue resolved)
  • Lack of coordination between national and municipal authorities and of decision-making bodies for safeguarding World Heritage at the site
  • Impacts of new buildings and new development projects on the World Heritage property, mainly within the framework of Law 5366, and the lack of impact studies before large-scale developments are implemented
  • Potential impacts of the new metro bridge across the Golden Horn as well as of the Bosphorus Transition Tunnel Project for Motor Vehicles
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

Total amount granted: USD 211,900 (Conservation of Hagia Sophia); USD 36,686.30 (Convention France-UNESCO); USD 155,000 (in the framework of the International Safeguarding Campaign for Istanbul and Göreme)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 16 (from 1986-2004)
Total amount approved : 452,208 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

January 2000, May 2001, 2002, December 2003, 2004: World Heritage Centre missions; April 2006, May 2008, April 2009, November 2012: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 30 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/documents/. This addresses conservation issues raised by the Committee. A meeting was held between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS on 6 May 2015 during which the State Party clarified these issues:

  • Golden Horn Metro Crossing Bridge: Refinements are being undertaken to the colour of the bridge, based on the recommendation of the Advisory Bodies, its pylon lighting, landscaping of the entrances and conservation along the approach routes.
  • Eurasia Road Tunnel: A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) was submitted, as requested by the Committee, as well as an evaluation of options for extending the tunnel to the west so that it emerges beyond the Land Walls thus removing the necessity for an eight lane highway and interchanges between the Historic Peninsula’s Sea Walls and the sea.
  • Yenikapi Land Reclamation project: The filling of the land reclamation was completed between February and September 2013. A HIA commissioned in line with the Committee’s recommendation was submitted. The use of the new space has been re-stated as being for the future provision of sewage treatment plants, as well as for green spaces and areas for meetings.
  • Management Plan: Through a series of workshops that started in late 2014, the Management Plan is being reviewed to take into consideration the decisions and recommendations of the Advisory Bodies. Completion is set for June 2015.
  • Ottoman Houses: The term ‘vernacular architecture buildings’ now replace ‘Ottoman timber buildings’ and includes masonry buildings as well as those of Ottoman date or style. A protocol for the Municipality to offer low interest loans to private owners is pending the authorities’ approval. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism continues to work on new legislation for grants to private property owners.

The following details of specific developments are provided:

  • Suleymaniye: Redevelopment is proceeding in accordance with the existing approved plan.
  • Sulukule Renewal Area: The new build elements of the comprehensive redevelopment project are stated to be complete, while the ‘Survey, Restitution and Restoration Projects’ are as ‘approved by the Regional Conservation Council’.
  • Fener-Balat Renewal Areas: This is being revived with the active participation of the stakeholders to be a ‘parcel-based implementation’.
  • Ayvansaray Renewal Area: The comprehensive redevelopment of this area is well advanced, incorporating a few ‘reconstructed’ timber buildings.

The State Party also reported on the following:

  • The Silhouette Master Plan has been extended to the Asian side of Istanbul.
  • Measures are being undertaken to address the quality of repairs and the issue of reconstruction of the Roman and Byzantine Walls and associated palace structures, including Tekfur Saray. Studies regarding the proposed works to the Tekfur Saray are being prepared.
  • A HIA is being prepared for the proposed reconstruction of the Ayasofya Madrasa, in response to concerns raised by the World Heritage Centre in 2014.
  • The Yedikule Restoration Implementation Project (Garden Areas by the Land Walls) has been suspended and the planning and the design works will be revised. The State Party has indicated that an HIA will be prepared in this regard.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

It is noted that the State Party has almost finalised refinements to the Golden Horn Metro Crossing Bridge and that the adopted colour accords with the 2012 Mission Report recommendation.

It is also noted that the design work on the Eurasia tunnel started in 2005, the contract was let in 2008, the detailed design was completed in 2012(although no information on this was provided to the 2012 mission), financing was in place by December 2012, and the works, which started on the Asian side in June 2014, are now about 50% complete. The requested HIA and the Options Appraisal (called the Evaluation of Extension of the Tunnel beyond the Land Walls) were thus carried out after the plans were finalised and while construction was on-going. The State Party therefore could not evaluate options for extending the tunnel beyond the Land Walls or of removing an intersection at Yenikapı, as requested by the Committee, as the length of the tunnel and the final positions of the portals had been agreed and ‘the project has no time and cost flexibilities’. Technical, environmental, social, cultural and economic issues were not sufficiently evaluated.

The current plans are for the western tunnel portal to emerge towards the eastern end of the Historic Peninsula and for the current two-lane boulevard of Kennedy Cadesi to be converted into a six to eight-lane urban motorway approach road, together with a complex interchange. The HIA acknowledges that such an intervention will provide a ‘spatial barrier’ cutting off access from the Historic Peninsula to the sea. 

As a result of the HIA, changes have been made, such as moving the administration building and half the toll gates to the Asian side, changing the configuration at Yenikapi to avoid buried archaeology, re-uniting the Marble Tower with the Land Walls,  and providing extra pedestrian bridges. These will provide mitigation but will do little to remove the major impact of a six- eight-lane highway that will funnel traffic into the Historic Peninsula and disrupt its relationship with the Sea of Marmara, one of the attributes of OUV.

The HIA for the Yenikapi Land Reclamation project was also undertaken after much of the construction work had been completed between February and September 2013.  The objective of this reclamation project has been restated to prioritise the future provision of sewage treatment plants, as well as to increase the amount of green space needed in the Fatih neighbourhood and surroundings. An HIA was commissioned in line with the WHC recommendation but was only undertaken after the work on the land- fill was in progress. The HIA acknowledges the important attribute of the Peninsula’s valuable cityscape to the property’s OUV, but concludes that as the peninsula’s silhouette facing the Sea of Marmara is of significantly lower value than where it faces the Bosphorus and Golden Horn, it will only be compromised if the project is seen from viewpoints located close to the coastline. The impact on the relationship between the Historic Peninsula and the sea is not directly assessed.

In order to address concerns of the Committee that the lack of conservation and rehabilitation of traditional timber buildings was reaching a critical stage, a new Directorate for Restoration and Repair is to be established within the Department of Cultural Properties. A protocol is also in the process of being signed by the relevant authorities to provide long-term low interest loans to private owners of vernacular buildings to help with simple maintenance and repair. A long term strategy to reverse the degradation of Ottoman style vernacular buildings is yet to be put in place.

The development at Suleymaniye is proceeding, although the Mission requested a review.

The Committee may wish to express concern that for the major Eurasia Tunnel and the Yenikapi Land Reclamation project, information was only provided after the designs were complete and work was in progress. As a result, for the Eurasia tunnel, detailed consideration has not been given to the requests of the Committee to consider alternative locations for the western tunnel portal, and only minor modifications are being suggested. Although these modifications are welcome, they do not address the fundamental concerns over the major impact of the proposed six-eight lane tunnel approach road in the buffer zone on the Land Walls and on the overall relationship between the Historic Peninsula and the Sea.

The Committee may wish to request the State Party to invite a Reactive Monitoring Mission to consider both these schemes and in particular to assess their actual and potential impact on OUV and all means possible to mitigate negative impacts. The mission could also discuss with the State Party how the revision of the Management plan might address procedures to ensure that Impact Assessments and full consultation for major projects are carried out appropriately and in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, before any irreversible decisions are made.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.83
Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (C 356)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.85, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to review the Management Plan for the property and notes that completion of the review is foreseen for mid-2015.
  4. Also notes of the State Party’s submission of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Eurasia Tunnel and requested Options Appraisal but regrets that the requested HIA and Options Appraisal for the Eurasia Tunnel were only undertaken at a late stage in the project rather than at the design stage, and that as a result few options could be properly assessed;
  5. Reiterates its view that the new six-eight-lane highway would have a highly significant, negative impact on the Sea Walls, the Marble Tower, and the overall relationship between the Historic Peninsula and the sea, one of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Expresses its concern that the HIA for the Yenikapi Land Reclamation Project was also undertaken while work was in progress, and further notes that this project will add cumulatively to the negative impacts of earlier developments along the Marmara Sea side of the Peninsula;
  7. Notes furthermore the urgent need for an integrated plan on the peninsula’s coastlines and the open spaces surrounding the Theodosian Land Walls, in line with the recommendations of the 2012 Mission;
  8. Also welcomes the intention of the State Party to set up a new Directorate for Restoration and Repair within the new Department of Cultural Properties, and the proposed protocol that would enable grants to be offered to private owners for the repair and maintenance of vernacular buildings and reiterates the need for an overall long term conservation strategy to be developed for Ottoman timber buildings;
  9. Also expresses its concern that a number of major projects have been developed without adequate Impact Assessments being undertaken in advance of approval or work commencing, and without formal notification being provided in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and considers that there is a need for progress to be made with the revision of the Management Plan in order that these procedural issues might be addressed in a revised governance structure;
  10. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to consider the impact of the proposed six-eight lane highway on the OUV of the property and all possible ways to mitigate this impact; to consider the impact of the Yenikapi Land Reclamation project on the profile of the Historic Peninsula; and overall to consider the management of the property;
  11. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a progress report on the implementation of the above and, by 1 December 2016, an updated report 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, both reports including a 1-page executive summary.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.83

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.85, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party to review the Management Plan for the property and notes that completion of the review is foreseen for mid-2015.
  4. Also notes of the State Party’s submission of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Eurasia Tunnel and requested Options Appraisal but regrets that the requested HIA and Options Appraisal for the Eurasia Tunnel were only undertaken at a late stage in the project rather than at the design stage, and that as a result few options could be properly assessed;
  5. Reiterates its view that the new six-eight-lane highway would have a highly significant, negative impact on the Sea Walls, the Marble Tower, and the overall relationship between the Historic Peninsula and the sea, one of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Expresses its concern that the HIA for the Yenikapi Land Reclamation Project was also undertaken while work was in progress, and further notes that this project will add cumulatively to the negative impacts of earlier developments along the Marmara Sea side of the Peninsula;
  7. Notes furthermore the urgent need for an integrated plan on the peninsula’s coastlines and the open spaces surrounding the Theodosian Land Walls, in line with the recommendations of the 2012 Mission;
  8. Also welcomes the intention of the State Party to set up a new Directorate for Restoration and Repair within the new Department of Cultural Properties, and the proposed protocol that would enable grants to be offered to private owners for the repair and maintenance of vernacular buildings and reiterates the need for an overall long term conservation strategy to be developed for Ottoman timber buildings;
  9. Also expresses its concern that a number of major projects have been developed without adequate Impact Assessments being undertaken in advance of approval or work commencing, and without formal notification being provided in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and considers that there is a need for progress to be made with the revision of the Management Plan in order that these procedural issues might be addressed in a revised governance structure;
  10. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to consider the impact of the proposed six-eight lane highway on the OUV of the property and all possible ways to mitigate this impact; to consider the impact of the Yenikapi Land Reclamation project on the profile of the Historic Peninsula; and overall to consider the management of the property;
  11. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, a progress report on the implementation of the above and, by 1 December 2016, an updated report 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, both reports including a 1-page executive summary.
Report year: 2015
Türkiye
Date of Inscription: 1985
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
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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