Historic Areas of Istanbul (Turkey) (C 356bis)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1985
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/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 452,208
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
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)
Previous monitoring missions
November 1997: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; October 1998: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2000, May 2001, 2002, December 2003, December 2004: World Heritage Centre missions; April 2006, May 2008, April 2009, November 2012: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2016: Reactive Monitoring mission World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Commercial development
- Ground/underground transport infrastructure
- Low impact research/monitoring activities
- Management systems/management plan
- Loss of integrity and authenticity: decay and loss of Ottoman/vernacular architecture
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018
On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/356/documents/, and outlines progress made in relation to the requests of the Committee, and in particular to various projects, as follows:
- The height of the ventilation shaft for the Eurasia tunnel project has been limited to 5 metres in order to avoid impacting adversely on the silhouette of the Historic Peninsula;
- The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the Yenikapi Reclamation Area Activity Tent project will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as completed;
- The Çanakkale 1915 museum project has been cancelled;
- Visualizations and basis descriptions have been provided for the Planetarium project as well as the Istanbul City museum;
- Details are provided of the surveys undertaken for the route for the Vezneciler-Edirnekapı-Eyüp-Gop-Sultangazi ground/underground metrofor which the Tender Process was completed in 2014; the route includes a section in the property near the land walls;
- Detailed information is provided for a project to move the current above ground tram line below ground for a two kilometre section between Seyitnizam and Zeytinburnu on the Kabataş-Bağcılar line; the current Seyitnizam and Mithatpaşa stations will be moved underground; work started in 2017;
- Planning started in March 2017 for a new 40km Kazlıçeşme- Söğütlüçeşme Metro Line connecting the Asian side and European side of Istanbul; there will be two stations in the Historic Peninsula: Kazlıçeşme Station and Topkapı Station, next to the Topkapı Cultural Park;
- A project to document Ottoman timber and stone houses has been initiated as a basis for the development of an immediate action plan to prevent further loss of these structures. The first phase of work will be addressed at houses that can be stabilised by simple maintenance; those that need significant restoration will be part of a second phase. 14 registered buildings in private ownership will be renovated in the first phase;
- The Fatih Municipality has revised its approach to Urban Renewal Areas to implement ‘block-based applications’ that take a holistic approach to larger areas rather than focusing on restoration and conservation works, and also aim to ensure effective participation of relevant stakeholders;
- Large scale restoration projects have been carried out at the Chora Museum, the Land Walls, Molla Zeyrek Mosque, and the Boukoleon Palace and on the Hagia Sophia Medrese following the submission of an HIA to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre ; details have been provided on analysis and work undertaken at the Chora Museum, the Land Walls, and Molla Zeyrek Mosque;
- Two workshops were organized by the Istanbul Municipality on traditional timber and stone-making techniques and conservation especially in relation to the property;
- A pilot project on “Heritage Istanbul and Children” was organized by the Site Management Directorate with the support of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Cultural Properties Directorate to raise awareness of heritage values amongst children, teachers and parents;
- In order to get a constructive and productive approach among all stakeholders for the HIAs, the State Party will organize an international workshop within 2018.
On 30 April 2018, the State Party submitted additional information including a finalized draft of the revised Management Plan, details of a proposed cultural HIA process, the revised structure of the Site Management Directorate as well as further details on the conservation strategies for protected examples of Ottoman structures. These documents outline following progress:
- The Management Plan has been further revised and is in the approval process. Work on defining the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is still in progress;
- The State Party has established a compulsory Cultural HIA process for the property that is included in the revised Management Plan.
Further details of the strategy for the conservation of Ottoman timber and stone buildings will be shared with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The State Party has made visible efforts to streamline various reports on numerous projects in one coherent reporting approach and to respond to the Committee decisions in a proactive manner including through a close and regular dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.
However, the Committee noted in 2017 that the Yenikapi Tent was being constructed and that no HIA had been submitted. The structure has now been completed while the HIA remains to be finalized. Although the Committee requested full details to be provided for review of the already-approved Planetarium and Istanbul City museum projects, only visualizations and limited drawings have been submitted and no HIA. It is merely stated that no effect from the projects on the silhouette of the Land Walls was observed.
Details have been provided of planned infrastructure projects for new and extended metro lines and for a project, which has already started, to move a short section of a tramline underground.
The further revised draft of the Management Plan will be reviewed. It is still recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to determine the attributes that convey the OUV of the property as a matter of priority as these should form the basis for the Management Plan.
The planned workshop on Cultural HIAs is a positive step forward. The detailed information on the geo-radar measurements of the Chora Museum and the restoration of the Zeyrek mosque are welcomed.
The initiation of a project to document Ottoman timber and stone houses is welcomed as is the stabilisation work that is planned as part of this project. Such survey was first requested by the Committee in 1997 and in the meantime a significant proportion of these houses have deteriorated or been lost. No details of the timescale of the various phases of the project have been provided and what has been set out is not quite the emergency plan and long-term strategy for the Ottoman timber buildings that the Committee requested should be put in place by the end of January 2018. The amount of resources being directed at conservation projects remains impressive. Plans have been submitted for the reconstruction of the Hagia Sophia medrese for which an HIA had been prepared. Photographs and descriptive details of the analysis and work undertaken have been provided for the Land Walls, and also for the Bucoleon Palace, the Chora museum and the Molla Zeyrek mosque, although these do not encompass the methodology or justify the approach used.
Further to the 2016 Reactive Monitoring Mission Report, it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to invite an advisory mission to review specifically the restoration and conservation projects, such as the Chora Museum, the Zeyrek Mosque and the Land Walls.
The overall report offers few new insights into conservation, renewal or new developments projects, apart from some infrastructure projects. A large number of renewal projects are still on-going for which no details have been provided that might provide assurances that these projects will not lead to loss of historic fabric.
It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its long-lasting concern that the situation remains highly delicate and strongly request the details of conservation and renewal projects or large-scale projects to be submitted in advance of decisions being taken and on the basis of appropriate HIAs.
It is finally recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to prepare a road-map including short and long-term strategies covering all types of projects (development/renovation/renewal), which may have an impact on the OUV of the property and determines all required details and steps in close cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are taken.
Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.31
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
- Also recalling the long-standing concerns of the Committee on the property,
- Welcomes the efforts made by the State Party of Turkey to streamline the reporting on the numerous projects in a coherent approach and for being engaged in a close dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
- Also welcomes the initiation of a project to document Ottoman timber and stone houses and the associated planned stabilization work, requests the State Party to provide further details on the implementation of the project and how this relates to the long-term strategy requested by the Committee;
- Deeply regrets that, in the past, details and information on development/conservation projects have been submitted after work has been completed and without Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA); consequently, further welcomes the inclusion of a cultural HIA process in the revised Management Plan;
- Reiterates its request to the State Party to define the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property in the Management Plan as a matter of priority and before the Plan is finalized and approved;
- Notes the work proposed for the reconstruction of the Hagia Sophia medrese for which an HIA had been prepared, and the work undertaken on the Land Walls, the Bucoleon Palace, the Chora museum and the Molla Zeyrek mosque;
- Also notes the large number of proposed infrastructure and other projects, and recommends that the State Party develop a progress report on these, together with a road-map including short- and long-term strategies covering all types of projects (development/renovation/renewal) which may have an impact on the OUV of the property, and determine all required details and steps in close cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are taken; and submit this road map to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2019;
- Encourages the State Party to invite an ICCROM/ICOMOS Advisory mission to review the restoration and conservation projects such as the Chora Museum and the Zeyrek Mosque in line with the recommendations of the 2016 Reactive Monitoring Mission report;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.