1.         Ancient City of Nessebar (Bulgaria) (C 217)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1983

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/217/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1991-1995)
Total amount approved: USD 21,290
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/217/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

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  

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/217/

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:

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

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 Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

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.

Decision Adopted: 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, 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.