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

Colonial City of Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Earthquake
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Storms
  • Underground transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal framework (undefined and unregulated buffer zone leading to urban development pressure and inadequate control of land use)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Vulnerability to earthquakes and hurricanes
  • Deterioration of historic structures derived from natural and social factors (including environmental pollution and lack of sensitization of local residents)
  • Housing - Urban development project (Sansouci)
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Underground transport infrastructure
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 3 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 82,207 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

1993, 1995, 1998: Monitoring missions; August 2001: ICOMOS Monitoring mission; 2002: World Heritage Centre mission; December 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2009: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 30 November 2018, the State Party submitted a report responding to Decision 42 COM 7B.37 for which a Technical Review was issued in September 2019.

On 2 December 2019, a complementary state of conservation report was submitted in response to the previous Committee Decision regarding programmes with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the strategic plan to address the recommendations of the 2014 ICOMOS Advisory mission. This report is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/526/documents/, providing information on the following:

  • A loan agreement with the IDB for the second phase of the Integral Programme for Tourism and Urban Development of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, is still pending approval by the National Congress. This will complement the previous Programme for Tourism Development in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo (PFTCCSD), in implementation since 2017;
  • All projects at the property are being supervised by the Dirección Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM), under the Ministry of Culture. The development of the Comprehensive Revitalisation Strategic Plan of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo is being finalized, and reviewed. Additional normative guidelines are being developed for the sectors of San Carlos and Villa Francisca, located in the buffer zone; the definition and extension of the buffer zone is scheduled for the 2020-2022 period;
  • New legislation, including a draft Law for the Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage, and a Patronage Law to promote public-private partnerships, have been developed;
  • There is now a clear definition of roles of government agencies (Ministry of Culture, City Council of the National District and Ministry of Tourism), through the establishment of a Strategic Committee, composed by the Ministers of Culture and Tourism, the Mayor of the National District and three representatives from each agency. A Consultative Committee has also been created, composed of representatives from civil society, academia, and technical advisory bodies. The members are in the process of defining the operational protocol for the Committee’s functions;
  • Tourism continues to rise in Santo Domingo with an increase of 3% in tourism demand and 11% in hotel occupancy compared to the same period the previous year. A completed analysis on Tourist Carrying Capacity and Reorientation Towards Sustainable Tourism in the Colonial City was submitted in this regard;
  • Restoration, and rehabilitation actions were undertaken in 2018-2019 within the Colonial City, as well as a technical assessment in the aftermath of the collapse of the Hotel Francés, a technical analysis of the ruins of the monastery of San Francisco and a structural analysis of the Church of Santa Bárbara with possible reinforcement proposals;
  • The State Party has undertaken several actions to assess and minimize negative effects of any projects in the property, including the Subway Line 6, which is not foreseen in the next 10 years.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

ICOMOS undertook a Technical Review of the State Party’s November 2018 progress report, which recalled the urgency of implementing actions with regard to institutional and legal frameworks, the approval and implementation of the Master Plan for the Integral Revitalization of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, and particularly the definition and formal submission of the buffer zone.

A number of initiatives have been undertaken by the State Party, including the development of stronger frameworks for the conservation and management of the property, and the proposal for a loan from the IDB to implement the second phase of the Integral Programme for Tourism and Urban Development of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo.

Regarding the legal framework and the management system, specific legislation has been adopted, as well as the definition of roles for the various government agencies involved in the city’s management. A management structure has been defined, with the creation of a Strategic Committee and a Consultative Committee. These bodies are a good start, although there is still need for a clear operational protocol related to decision-making. The effectiveness of these measures will need to be assessed particularly in the framework of the second IDB-funded project.

The impact of tourism on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property is still unclear, and remains a source of concern. The State Party reports an increase in visitor numbers, but there is also mention that the thresholds determined for the property are far from being exceeded. It is unclear how these numbers have been calculated, or what the impact of increasing visitation will have on the property’s protection. A positive initiative related to tourism is the ongoing development of a plan to adopt a certification process to turn Santo Domingo into a sustainable destination; however, more information would be required to understand the implications of this initiative. It is important to bear in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic may change the approach to tourism at the site.

The vulnerability of the property to earthquakes and hurricanes is not addressed by the State Party in its report. Due to the increasing threat of these natural phenomena to the OUV of the property, the development of a Disaster Risk Management Plan will be pertinent.

There was only a structural analysis done of the Hotel Francés that partially collapsed in 2015. Studies were undertaken to document the state of the building, and to assess the requirements for new foundations. The conclusions are, however, not clear for understanding whether the results are based on calculations for modern construction, or for traditional masonry. There is also no description of how the reconstruction is planned.

The State Party mentions that important rehabilitation and maintenance actions have been carried out in 2018-2019, but there are no indications of what these actions were, how they were undertaken, nor were they previously submitted to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies for review in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. Two specific diagnoses are presented for the ruins of San Francisco and for the Santa Bárbara Church. In the first case, although the state of conservation is documented, some of the recommendations made by a foreign consulting firm are worrying, particularly with the proposal to either demolish a damaged wall, or to reinforce it. In the case of Santa Bárbara Church, there is also insufficient information to evaluate the proposed conservation and restoration treatments. Regarding urban development and underground infrastructure projects, it should be acknowledged that the State Party notifies that the Subway Line 6 project is not foreseen in the next 10 years.

It remains of outmost concern that there is no significant progress in the definition of the buffer zone and the formal submission of a Minor Boundary Modification request to the World Heritage Centre, although it is noted that the State Party reports that no further projects have been developed in the Sansouci project in the eastern part of the proposed buffer zone.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.66
Colonial City of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) (C 526)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.37, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Takes note of the progress made by the State Party in responding to requests by the Committee regarding the legal and management framework, particularly by defining clear roles for government agencies, and reinforcing the Dirección Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM);
  4. Also takes note of the completion of the new Comprehensive Revitalisation Strategic Plan of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo and requests the State Party to ensure its approval and submission to the World Heritage Centre for final review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as it is available;
  5. Acknowledges the efforts made by the State Party to obtain a certification for sustainable tourism, and also requests it to continue monitoring the increase in visitation, taking into account the carrying capacity of the property and the protection of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Regrets that the State Party has not yet submitted a Minor Boundary Modification as per Paragraphs 162-164 of the Operational Guidelines for the definition of the buffer zone as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee, and urges the State Party to finalize the proposal as soon as possible;
  7. Further takes note of the photogrammetric survey and topographical studies undertaken in the aftermath of the partial collapse of the Hotel Francés, and further requests the State Party to provide additional clarifications regarding the proposed reconstruction project;
  8. Welcomes the notification by the State Party that the construction of the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen in the next ten years, and reminds it, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to inform and submit the necessary technical information to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before further decisions are taken;
  9. Requests furthermore that additional information regarding the conservation methods used at historic buildings within the property, as well as the project proposals for the Convent of San Francisco and for the Santa Bárbara Church, be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  10. Expresses its concern that no Disaster Risk Management Plan has been developed to address the risks posed by earthquakes and hurricanes, and requests moreover the State Party to develop such plan and submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.66

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.37, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Takes note of the progress made by the State Party in responding to requests by the Committee regarding the legal and management framework, particularly by defining clear roles for government agencies, and reinforcing the Dirección Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM);
  4. Also takes note of the completion of the new Comprehensive Revitalisation Strategic Plan of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo and requests the State Party to ensure its approval and submission to the World Heritage Centre for final review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as it is available;
  5. Acknowledges the efforts made by the State Party to obtain a certification for sustainable tourism, and also requests it to continue monitoring the increase in visitation, taking into account the carrying capacity of the property and the protection of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  6. Regrets that the State Party has not yet submitted a Minor Boundary Modification as per Paragraphs 162-164 of the Operational Guidelines for the definition of the buffer zone as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee, and urges the State Party to finalize the proposal as soon as possible;
  7. Further takes note of the photogrammetric survey and topographical studies undertaken in the aftermath of the partial collapse of the Hotel Francés, and further requests the State Party to provide additional clarifications regarding the proposed reconstruction project;
  8. Welcomes the notification by the State Party that the construction of the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen in the next ten years, and reminds it, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to inform and submit the necessary technical information to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before further decisions are taken;
  9. Requests furthermore that additional information regarding the conservation methods used at historic buildings within the property, as well as the project proposals for the Convent of San Francisco and for the Santa Bárbara Church, be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  10. Expresses its concern that no Disaster Risk Management Plan has been developed to address the risks posed by earthquakes and hurricanes, and requests moreover the State Party to develop such plan and submit it to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Dominican Republic
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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