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Ancient City of Nessebar

Bulgaria
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Lack of a Management Plan 
  • Urban development pressure 
  • Lack of an urban master plan and of a conservation master plan of monuments and archaeological sites 
  • Illegal constructions 
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation
  • Management Systems/Management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 3 (from 1991-1995)
Total amount approved : 21,290 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

November 2010, October 2018: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2012: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2017: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/UNESCO Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB - 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage) Advisory mission  

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 26 February 2021, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is accessible at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/217/documents/ and reports on the implementation of Decision 43 COM 7B.81 (Baku, 2019) and other activities in 2019 and 2020, as follows:

  • A revised project for the Severna Buna Fishing port was transmitted: a floating pontoon and piers anchored to the sea-bottom have been chosen to augment the mooring capacity of the port;
  • Monitoring of the urban environment of the property was implemented in 2020: issues, priorities and remedial measures have been identified;
  • Steps to remove illegal constructions and installations continue;
  • The Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the school and sports centre in the area of the Ancient Necropolis of Messembria is being prepared;
  • An Integrated Development Plan for Nessebar Municipality (2021–2027) is being developed to harness EU funds from its regional development and cohesion policy. It was submitted to public consultation and will then be adopted by the Municipal Council;
  • A 5-year General Plan for the Organisation of the Traffic (GPOT) in the Ancient City of Nessebar has been prepared and awaits adoption by the municipality in spring 2021;
  • Geodetic and photogrammetric survey of the churches and streets has been completed;
  • The conservation projects for two windmills have been prepared with financial resources from the municipal fund “Culture”;
  • The repaving of several streets of Ancient Nessebar is ongoing;
  • Funds for restoring cultural properties and creating a “bazaar and park space” to improve the urban environment of the buffer zone are being sought;
  • Underwater archaeological investigations and documentation of the medieval and post-medieval graffiti continues. Reports on the results of the research campaigns and programmes for future research have been transmitted;
  • Educational and awareness raising initiatives and events have been conceived but only partially carried out, due to the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Scientific research conducted by the Centre for Underwater Archaeology between 2017 and 2020, aims at gathering scientific data to justify a potential boundary modification of the property.

On some priority actions, the State Party reports the following:

  • An analysis of the draft Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the property has been carried out and recommendations issued;
  • The draft General Development Master Plan (GDMP) was sent for an Environmental Assessment by a licensed company in January 2021;
  • The preparation of the Detailed Development Plan, based on the adopted Conservation Regimes for the Ancient City of Nessebar (2015), will begin after the adoption of the GDMP.

Other measures discussed in the State Party report were already reported on in 2018 and acknowledged by the World Heritage Committee in 2019.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

Some progress has occurred in implementing the Committee’s decisions, but key steps remain to be addressed, namely the finalization and approval of the updated CMP, that incorporates an updated Sustainable Tourism Management Plan that addresses the pandemic and post- pandemic scenarios, the Detailed Development Plan for the property and its buffer zone and the GDMP, including guidelines for urban design, and the creation of an inter-ministerial committee, supported by a working group, to ensure clear governance and effective management of the property based on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

The analysis of the draft CMP is a useful step but its finalization, approval and entry into force, for which no timeframe has been set out, needs to be achieved urgently as the GDMP is under revision and should incorporate the OUV-based vision for the property on which the CMP should be based.

The State Party has submitted one map of the GDMP. However, a report on the overall principles, strategy and main axes for the future territorial development of the city of Nessebar also needs to be presented, along with the outcomes of the Strategic Impact Assessment, in relation to potential impacts on the OUV of the World Heritage property. No timeframe for the approval and enforcement of the GDMP has been indicated by the State Party.

Following amendments to the Regional Development Act, an Integrated Development Plan for Nessebar has been drafted; however, only a list of projects has been transmitted. No long-term shared vision for the property seems to inform these projects - a vision which is much needed and should be urgently elaborated. For some of the listed projects – the North Coast aestheticization, construction of the Natural History Centre, and completion of the church building in the Black Sea r.a. (see Annex 4. Measure 4.3)– further information and documentation need to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, according to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

It is reported that a Specialized Expert Council on the Conservation of Immovable Cultural Properties operates at the Ministry of Culture; nevertheless, this is an advisory body rather than the interinstitutional decision-making body which is needed to ensure a coherent governance of the property. The reported increased dialogue and cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and other relevant ministries, state agencies and Nessebar municipality should facilitate setting up such a committee. The World Heritage Committee may wish to reiterate its recommendation to the State Party to establish promptly an inter-ministerial steering committee for the property involving all relevant actors, supported by a working group, including the staff of relevant institutions.

The 5-year GPOT envisages measures for regulating access of residents and merchandises to the ancient city and identifies parking spaces outside the old fabric, in areas by the sea. These measures seem appropriate, but their effectiveness is to be assessed over time on the basis of careful monitoring.

Research on underwater archaeology has yielded important findings on submerged ancient defense and port infrastructures. The commitment of the State Party to document and increase the knowledge about the property’s ancient history and its vestiges is to be recognized and the completion of the research encouraged, so that the necessary Minor Boundary Modification can be promptly submitted.

The State Party seeks to secure financial resources for the conservation, enhancement and better presentation of the property, and has deployed human resources to implement monitoring and documentation. These efforts need to be continued to ensure effective management over time.

The State Party proposes to transform the ICOMOS Advisory mission, which had previously been recommended in 2017, into a series of online workshops to held in 2021. The World Heritage Committee may wish to recommend the State Party to implement this proposal.

The progress made by the State Party is acknowledged, but efforts need to increase in order for the threats to the integrity, authenticity and OUV of the property, confirmed by the findings of the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, to be addressed effectively and systemically. The implementation of much-awaited key actions has commenced but they are yet to be accomplished, while others are expected to enter into force soon. It would be important for a Reactive Monitoring mission to visit the property in 2022 to ascertain the condition of the property and to assess the progress made in implementing the measures requested by the Committee and the recommendations of the various missions to remove the identified threats to the property.

Some progress in implementing the last decisions of the Committee by the State Party has been observed but urgent matters still need to be addressed. Therefore, a consideration of the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger is not warrant at this point. However, if the absence of substantial progress in addressing Committee’s decisions and all missions recommendations will persist, this might be warranted.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.154
Ancient City of Nessebar (Bulgaria) (C 217)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Takes note of the progress of the State Party in implementing previous Committee decisions and mission recommendations, but notes with concern that some urgent matters are yet to be addressed as further detailed below;
  4. Urges the State Party to devise a strategy for the future of Nessebar, based on the sustainable, compatible and equitable development of the town and the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to:
    1. establish as a matter of high priority a high-level inter-ministerial or steering committee, supported by a working group and by all relevant institutions, tasked with the development of an OUV-based shared vision for Nessebar to align all present and future decisions, plans and projects for the property’s conservation, enhancement and development,
    2. finalize, adopt and implement the Conservation Management Plan which incorporates an updated Sustainable Tourism Management Plan, the Detailed Development Plan and the General Development Master Plan, including guidelines for urban design, based on the OUV of the property, as well as continue enforcing the existing protection regimes,
    3. continue to allocate financial and human resources required for effective implementation of the updated Conservation Management Plan and updated General Development Master Plan,
    4. continue to implement the recommendations of the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission as well as all previous mission recommendations that are yet to be addressed;
  6. Requests the State Party to promptly finalize, approve and implement the General Plan for the Organisation of the Traffic in the Ancient City of Nessebar and to monitor its application and outcomes;
  7. Takes note with satisfaction of the results of the underwater archaeological investigations and also requests the State Party to promptly finalize the research necessary for a future Minor Boundary Modification request, per Paragraphs 163 and 164 of the Operational Guidelines, to include all underwater archaeological remains of the ancient town;
  8. Also takes note of the proposal of the State Party to convert the recommended ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property into online workshops to be held in 2021, and invites the State Party and ICOMOS to agree on a suitable period for this activity;
  9. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to take place in 2022, or as soon as the sanitary situation allows, to assess its state of conservation and ascertain the progress made by the State Party in implementing the Committee’s decisions and missions’ recommendations;
  10. 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 submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, the Conservation Management Plan, Detailed Development Plan and General Development Master Plan for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.154

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.81, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Takes note of the progress of the State Party in implementing previous Committee decisions and mission recommendations, but notes with concern that some urgent matters are yet to be addressed as further detailed below;
  4. Urges the State Party to devise a strategy for the future of Nessebar, based on the sustainable, compatible and equitable development of the town and the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to:
    1. establish as a matter of high priority a high-level inter-ministerial or steering committee, supported by a working group and by all relevant institutions, tasked with the development of an OUV-based shared vision for Nessebar to align all present and future decisions, plans and projects for the property’s conservation, enhancement and development,
    2. finalize, adopt and implement the Conservation Management Plan which incorporates an updated Sustainable Tourism Management Plan, the Detailed Development Plan and the General Development Master Plan, including guidelines for urban design, based on the OUV of the property, as well as continue enforcing the existing protection regimes,
    3. continue to allocate financial and human resources required for effective implementation of the updated Conservation Management Plan and updated General Development Master Plan,
    4. continue to implement the recommendations of the 2018 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission as well as all previous mission recommendations that are yet to be addressed;
  6. Requests the State Party to promptly finalize, approve and implement the General Plan for the Organisation of the Traffic in the Ancient City of Nessebar and to monitor its application and outcomes;
  7. Takes note with satisfaction of the results of the underwater archaeological investigations and also requests the State Party to promptly finalize the research necessary for a future Minor Boundary Modification request, per Paragraphs 163 and 164 of the Operational Guidelines, to include all underwater archaeological remains of the ancient town;
  8. Also takes note of the proposal of the State Party to convert the recommended ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property into online workshops to be held in 2021, and invites the State Party and ICOMOS to agree on a suitable period for this activity;
  9. Further requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to take place in 2022, or as soon as the sanitary situation allows, to assess its state of conservation and ascertain the progress made by the State Party in implementing the Committee’s decisions and missions’ recommendations;
  10. 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 submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, the Conservation Management Plan, Detailed Development Plan and General Development Master Plan for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2023, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2021
Bulgaria
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2021) .pdf
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.


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