1.         Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania) (C 569bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

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/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2002-2018)
Total amount approved: USD 80,416
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 Gjirokastra – Albania”

Previous monitoring missions

November 2012: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2016: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 28 November 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/569/documents and presents progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions, as follows:

In response to third party information submitted outlining a continual loss of built heritage in the property, further additional information was requested from the State Party. No response had been received at the time of drafting this document.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

The efforts undertaken by the State Party to continue improving the conservation and management of the property, the maintenance and restoration works, carried out during 2017 and 2018, are noted. The approval of the Law “On Cultural Heritage and Museums” and the General Urban Plans (GUP) for both municipalities is welcomed. The active use by site managers of the monitoring indicators related to the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), developed during the workshop held in April 2016, is welcomed. Authorities and stakeholders are encouraged to continue monitoring and controlling development at the property.

The development of an overarching Integrated Management Plan (IMP) is planned for 2019. It is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to indeed develop this IMP as a matter of priority, including a risk management component with threat mitigation measures. In addition, it will be necessary to prepare an integrated urban conservation and development tool, which is to be an integral part of the overarching IMP, based on a detailed survey and documentation of all buildings and environmental features that are located in the urban settlement and within its context, applying the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011). It is noted that the moratorium on new constructions within the property and buffer zones in place since 2013, was lifted following the approval of the GUPs of the respective municipalities. However, it is recommended that the State Party reinstate and maintain the moratorium until approval and full implementation of the above-mentioned tools for protection and management of Berat and Gjirokastra.

The revised project for the reconstruction of the ex Bar-Restaurant “Fantazia” in Gjirokastra has been reviewed by ICOMOS and is deemed to be an improvement over the original design. Some minor recommendations have been provided to the State Party. The proposed Terms of Reference of the PlUTD could be accepted as a good basis for the final project. The State Party should, however, take into consideration the remarks of the ICOMOS technical review, in particular with regards to linking it to the Management Plan of the World Heritage property. ICOMOS considers the draft final report of the Berat Development Vision and IUDC a well-elaborated, valuable document. However, it is recommended that it be complemented by strategic proposals and practical solutions related to the phenomenon of illegal building activities. It is recommended that the State Party be encouraged to consider carefully the ICOMOS technical reviews submitted in 2017 and 2018, and keep the World Heritage Centre informed of ways through which these comments are being taken into account. Additionally, it is recommended that the State Party submit the Terms of Reference of the stabilization study and project for the Castle of Gjirokastra to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, as well as any other development proposals before their approval or implementation.

The state of conservation of the property, loss of important heritage fabric and inappropriate new developments in the property and its buffer zone remain of great concern.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.79

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.40, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Notes the efforts undertaken by the State Party to continue to improve the conservation and management of the property, notably the maintenance and restoration works carried out in 2017 and 2018, and welcomes the adoption of the draft Law “On Cultural Heritage and Museums” and the General Urban Plans for both municipalities and requests their urgent implementation;
  4. Also notes that the Gjirokastra Bypass project has been suspended and also requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on such projects;
  5. Also welcomes the progress made with the implementation of monitoring indicators related to the protection of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and encourages the State Party and stakeholders to continue monitoring and controlling development in order to safeguard the OUV of the property;
  6. Recalls the fundamental and urgent need for an overarching Integrated Management Plan (IMP) and appropriate control mechanisms for the property and its buffer zones and beyond, and noting the approved International Assistance request to develop such a plan, further request the State Party to:
    1. Develop, as a matter of priority and implement after review by the Advisory Bodies an overarching IMP, including a risk management component with threat mitigation measures,
    2. Develop and implement, after review by the Advisory Bodies, an integrated urban conservation and development tool, based on a detailed survey and documentation of all buildings and environmental features in the urban settlement and its wider context applying the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (2011), and ensure strong inter-institutional cooperation in particular with those entities responsible for urban planning,
    3. Reinstate the moratorium on new constructions within the property and buffer zones, and maintain it until approval of the above-mentioned tools for protection and management of Berat and Gjirokastra,
    4. Develop mechanisms and programmes to advance the restoration and conservation of the built fabric of the property;
  7. Requests furthermore the State Party to take into consideration the review and recommendations provided by the Advisory Bodies concerning the Project of Integrated Urban and Tourism Development (PlUTD) and Berat Development Vision and Integrated Urban Development Concept (IUDC), and keep the World Heritage Centre informed of ways through which these comments are being taken into account;
  8. Also encourages the State Party to continue providing 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;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2020, 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 45th session in 2021.