Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz

Uzbekistan
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Financial resources
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Legal framework
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Demolition and re-building of traditional housing areas

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Management systems/management plan (Lack of a comprehensive conservation and management plan)
  • Management activities
  • Housing; Commercial development (Major interventions carried out, including demolition and re-building activities)
  • Legal framework (Need to reinforce the national legal framework)
  • Human resources (inadequate)
  • Financial resources (inadequate)
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Large-scale urban development projects carried out without informing the Committee or commissioning the necessary heritage impact assessments
  • Demolition and rebuilding of traditional housing areas
  • Irreversible changes to the original appearance of a large area within the historic centre
  • Significant alteration of the setting of monuments and the overall historical town planning structure and its archaeological layers
  • Absence of conservation and Management Plan
Corrective Measures for the property

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved : 15,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

October 2002: Monitoring mission by an international expert; March 2006: UNESCO Tashkent/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; June 2014: UNESCO Tashkent fact-finding mission; March 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 3 December 2016, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report. Subsequently, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in December 2016. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/885/documents. The State Party responded to the requests of the Committee at its last session as follows:

  • All work on the “State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city”, which included the demolition of traditional houses and urban structures in the centre of the town, the lowering of ground levels, new large-scale landscaping and the construction of new buildings, has been halted;
  • A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) on the impacts of the demolition/development in the centre of the town on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property has been submitted retrospectively, after the works had been carried out;
  • Management: A Special Commission was created in October 2016 to address the recommendations of the Committee at its 40th session and approve an Action Plan for the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (as well as for the Historic Centre of Bukhara, Itchan Kala and Samarkand- Crossroad of Cultures), which includes the need to:
    • Update the 2001 law on the Protection of Cultural Heritage to include special measures for the preservation of the historical appearance of World Heritage properties,
    • Develop a charter for economic and town-planning activities at cultural World Heritage properties and other historic centres,
    • Make changes to the Shakhrisyabz Master Plan to ensure that it considers the historical environment and traditional houses,
    • Prepare changes to the Criminal and Administrative codes of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in relation to responsibility for damaging World Heritage properties,
    • Accelerate the processes concerning management plans,
    • Establish a special research institute specializing on conservation, restoration, rescue and recovery operations for cultural heritage property in historic cities, based in Tashkent,
    • Develop 1-, 2-, 3- and 5-year development plans for Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Shakhrisyabz and other historic cities;
  • Future Projects: Plans are being drawn up to recreate the historic layout, including the reconstruction of some houses based on the spatial and planning structure of traditional houses in Shakhrisyabz, but using modern materials and services. These projects will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

The mission report documented the damage to the centre of Shakhrisyabz arising from the implementation of the State Programme. Before it was halted, the project had resulted in:

  • The demolition of a 2-km swathe of the Old City, from the Ak-Saray palace in the north to the Dorus-Tilovat Complex in the south, including the whole of the central market area, in all extending to 70 ha;
  • The destruction of almost the entirety one of the historic mahalla districts that covered the core of the earliest, 7th-century-AD part of the town;
  • The obliteration of the traditional layout of the centre of the city, which reflected town planning of the Temurid era and earlier;
  • The relocation of some 2,000 people to a new site, about 4 km away from the historic centre;
  • The removal of 2 to 2.5 m of the archaeological layers from the site;
  • The installation of large drains to lower the water table;
  • The introduction of hard landscaping and non-native trees and shrubs;
  • Extensive conservation works at and around a number of cultural heritage monuments among them the Ak-Saray Palace, the Dorus-Saodat Complex, the Chor-su Bazaar and the Medieval Baths, including some reconstruction.

The mission noted that, had the project not been halted, the demolition of houses would have been extended to other mahalla districts.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

The Reactive Monitoring mission noted that the impact of this work is drastic. Features of the medieval town centre and its evolution through the centuries have been replaced by large-scale modern interventions, which have in effect turned the central area into a “theme park” for visitors. The heart of the town has been torn away and what remains are wide-open areas of landscaping separated from the rest of the town by perimeter walls. Almost nothing remains to reflect the traditional urban structure or the way it has developed over at least two millennia in the central part of the town. Additionally, intensive conservation projects were carried out on most of the major monuments within a short period of time, partly using inappropriate materials and irreversible techniques, have significantly damaged the property’s authenticity. It appears that no detailed systematic documentation exists of the demolished urban areas and buildings, and no rescue archaeology was undertaken. From the information provided during the mission, it appears that the project was approved at the highest level and with support from the National Board of Monuments.

Furthermore, no HIA was undertaken before the works commenced, nor were any details presented to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The HIA submitted retrospectively by the State Party highlights the problems of the current situation. Decisions have been taken purely on the basis of the protection of individual monuments and to enhance the spaces between monuments to allow for better visibility and intercommunication, and not on the basis of the OUV of the property. Shakhrisyabz was inscribed for its combination of monumental Temurid buildings surrounded by traditional dwelling houses, only visible with such clarity in Shakhrisyabz, which together were seen to reflect the coherence and survival of Temurid planning, and to have no analogues in the whole of Central Asia or the Islamic world.

The monumental buildings have now been disengaged from their urban surroundings, the heart of the Temurid planning has been lost, and the traditional dwelling houses at the core of the mediaeval town have been destroyed. What remains is not so much a historic town as an ensemble of monuments surrounded by a park, with beyond the park wall the remaining mahallas.

The mission could only reach the conclusion that the key attributes of the OUV have been damaged to such a degree, and for the most part irreversibly, that the OUV for which the property was inscribed can no longer be conveyed.

The mission concluded that there did not appear to be any possibility to recover sufficient attributes to justify the OUV that existed at the time of inscription. Nevertheless, although recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage, it is recommended that the Committee invite the State Party to provide further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, although there remain concerns as to what parameters might be developed for recovery work. The damage inflicted on Shakhrisyabz was deliberate, which makes it all the more difficult to understand where the momentum for recovery might come from.

It is also recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide the following detailed documentation:

  • The town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
  • The remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
  • The remaining traditional houses,
  • An assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
  • Current plans for further improvements and upgrading work on houses and access routes, such as the widening and re-paving of roads,
  • Documentation on works carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription, and
  • The Current Master Plan for the city.

On the basis of this documentation, an assessment could be made as to whether there is potential for a re-nomination of the property or a significant boundary modification, including some of the monuments and some of the remaining urban areas, or whether the property has deteriorated to the extent that it has irremediably lost its OUV and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the Word Heritage List. As there is a need to reach a resolution on the way forward as quickly as possible, the mission recommended that a decision in this regard be taken by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session.

Finally, the Action Plan submitted by the State Party is welcome, as it reflects an acknowledgement of the need to transform protection, management and decision making not only for Shakhrisyabz but also for other World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.57
Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) (C 885)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the Action Plan submitted by the State Party, which reflects an acknowledgement of the need to transform the protection, management and decision making not only for Shakhrisyabz but also for other World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan;
  4. Notes with extreme concern the findings of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission concerning the drastic and irreversible damage to the Temurid urban planning and to traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town resulting from works undertaken under the ‘State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’;
  5. Also notes with extreme concern the relocation of some 2,000 residents and the extensive conservation work at and around a number of cultural heritage monuments, including the Ak-Saray Palace, the Dorus-Saodat Complex, the Chor-su Bazaar and the Medieval Baths, partly carried out using inappropriate materials and irreversible techniques, including some reconstruction, which caused significant damage to the authenticity of the property;
  6. Greatly regrets that no information was provided to the World Heritage Centre on this major project before irreversible decisions were taken and work commenced, and understands that, had the project not been halted as requested by the Committee in 2016, the demolition would have been extended to other mahalla districts;
  7. Notes that no Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), no detailed systematic documentation, and no rescue archaeology was carried out before the major interventions began;
  8. Takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that, as the monumental buildings have now been disengaged from their urban surroundings, the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost and, as the traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed, the key attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) have been damaged to such an extent, and for the most part irreversibly, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed;
  9. Also takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage, but considers nevertheless that the State Party should explore all possible options for the recovery of attributes and examine whether a significant boundary modification could be envisaged based on any recoverable attributes, in line with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Requests therefore that the State Party halt any further work at Shakhrisyabz and provide to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, for review by ICOMOS, including:
    1. Detailed plans of the town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
    2. Detailed plans of the remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
    3. Inventories of remaining traditional houses,
    4. Assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
    5. Current plans for further improvements and upgrade work on houses and access routes, such as the widening and re-paving of roads,
    6. Documentation on work carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription,
    7. A current Master Plan for the city;
  11. Decides that on the basis of this documentation, a decision will be made at its 42nd session in 2018 on whether there is potential for a re-nomination of the property including only some of the monuments and the remaining urban areas, or whether the property has deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the OUV defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List;
  12. Urges the State Party to address all other recommendations of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission, notably regarding protection, management and tile decay on the façade of Ak-Saray Palace;
  13. Requests the World Heritage Centre to provide to the Committee at its 42nd session a report concerning the clarification of the processes associated with the Periodic Reporting and Reactive Monitoring system with regard to this property;
  14. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
  15. Also decides to retain Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.57

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
      2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
      3. Welcomes the Action Plan submitted by the State Party, which reflects an acknowledgement of the need to transform the protection, management and decision making not only for Shakhrisyabz but also for other World Heritage properties in Uzbekistan;
      4. Notes with extreme concern the findings of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission concerning the drastic and irreversible damage to the Temurid urban planning and to traditional dwelling houses in the core of the mediaeval town resulting from works undertaken under the ‘State Programme for complex measures for building and reconstruction of Shakhrisyabz city’;
      5. Also notes with extreme concern the relocation of some 2,000 residents and the extensive conservation work at and around a number of cultural heritage monuments, including the Ak-Saray Palace, the Dorus-Saodat Complex, the Chor-su Bazaar and the Medieval Baths, partly carried out using inappropriate materials and irreversible techniques, including some reconstruction, which caused significant damage to the authenticity of the property;
      6. Greatly regrets that no information was provided to the World Heritage Centre on this major project before irreversible decisions were taken and work commenced, and understands that, had the project not been halted as requested by the Committee in 2016, the demolition would have been extended to other mahalla districts;
      7. Notes that no Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), no detailed systematic documentation, and no rescue archaeology was carried out before the major interventions began;
      8. Takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that, as the monumental buildings have now been disengaged from their urban surroundings, the heart of the Temurid town planning has been lost and, as the traditional dwelling houses in the core of the medieval town have been destroyed, the key attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) have been damaged to such an extent, and for the most part irreversibly, that the property can no longer convey the OUV for which it was inscribed;
      9. Also takes note with concern of the Reactive Monitoring mission’s conclusion that recovering sufficient attributes to justify the OUV identified at the time of inscription seems impossible at this stage, but considers nevertheless that the State Party should explore all possible options for the recovery of attributes and examine whether a significant boundary modification could be envisaged based on any recoverable attributes, in line with Paragraph 165 of the Operational Guidelines;
      10. Requests therefore that the State Party halt any further work at Shakhrisyabz and provide to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, further details and documentation to allow an assessment of what, if anything, could be recovered, for review by ICOMOS, including:
        1. Detailed plans of the town centre showing the layout and buildings before and after demolition,
        2. Detailed plans of the remaining mahalla areas and descriptions of their characteristics,
        3. Inventories of remaining traditional houses,
        4. Assessment of changes to houses and streets since inscription, including comparisons with the 1983 drawings of selected houses,
        5. Current plans for further improvements and upgrade work on houses and access routes, such as the widening and re-paving of roads,
        6. Documentation on work carried out on the monuments and their settings since inscription,
        7. A current Master Plan for the city;
      11. Decides that on the basis of this documentation, a decision will be made at its 42nd session in 2018 on whether there is potential for a re-nomination of the property including only some of the monuments and the remaining urban areas, or whether the property has deteriorated to such an extent that it has lost the attributes of the OUV defined at the time of inscription and should therefore, in accordance with Paragraph 192 of the Operational Guidelines, be deleted from the World Heritage List;
      12. Urges the State Party to address all other recommendations of the December 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission, notably regarding protection, management and tile decay on the façade of Ak-Saray Palace;
      13. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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 42nd session in 2018;
      14. Also decides to retain Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Uzbekistan) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2017
      Uzbekistan
      Date of Inscription: 2000
      Category: Cultural
      Criteria: (iii)(iv)
      Danger List (dates): 2016-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      SOC Report by the State Party
      Report (2016) .pdf
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
      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.


      top