1.         Ancient City of Aleppo (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 21)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1986

Criteria  (iii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2013-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Destruction as well as ascertained and potential threats consequent to the armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011.

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Not yet drafted

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1986-2023)
Total amount approved: USD 80,250
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided: USD 195,255 by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund 

Total amount provided to the six Syrian World Heritage properties: 200,000 euros by the Italian Government; for built, movable and intangible heritage: 2.46 million euros by the European Union, USD 170,000 by the Flemish Government, 63,000 euros by the Austrian Government, USD 200,000 by the German Government; for cultural heritage under conflict: USD 200,000 by the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Bahrain

Previous monitoring missions

January 2017: UNESCO Rapid Assessment mission, February 2023: UNESCO Rapid Assessment mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Before the conflict:

Since 2013:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 3 January 2022 and 24 January 2023, the State Party submitted state of conservation reports for the six Syrian World Heritage properties, which are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/21/documents/, and include updated information on progress and challenges in a number of conservation issues at the property, as follows:

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck south-eastern Türkiye, near the Syrian border on 6 February 2023, and the subsequent aftershocks, inflicted significant damage to the property, whose historic fabric was already weakened by the impact of the conflict. A UNESCO Rapid Assessment mission took place from 25 to 27 February 2023, which confirmed that the Citadel and its structures, the historic souqs, museums, monuments, residential historic buildings, and many religious buildings suffered various degrees of damage. Damage in residential areas was exacerbated by inappropriate post-conflict stabilization work and repairs. An Emergency Assistance request from the World Heritage Fund was approved on 17 March 2023, which aims at assessing and documenting damage as well as undertaking consolidation and conservation work at the western tower of the city wall.

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

See General Decision 45COM 7A.46 of this Document on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic.

It is extremely unfortunate that the February 2023 earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks have further inflicted significant damage to the property, posing an additional challenge to recovery, where planning, coordination and restoration works were progressing well. It is recommended that the Committee welcome the efforts of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), its partners and the local community, despite the challenges, and encourage the pursuit of activities planned for the recovery of the property.

It is noted that great efforts have been made for the recovery of infrastructure and the revival of economic life in the Old City, as outlined in the State Party report prior to the February 2023 earthquake. Works included restoration and the revitalization of most of its ancient suqs and a number of public squares. The rehabilitation of Suq al-Saqatiyya as a pilot project was showcased as a case study in the joint ICOMOS-ICCROM publication, Analysis of Case Studies in Recovery and Reconstruction, published in 2020 and launched in March 2021, and is a remarkable example of both physical conservation and revitalization. Safety measures were implemented in the Old City to protect inhabitants from risks of collapse of damaged structures, as previously requested by the Committee, but it would be preferable that wherever possible significant fabric and architectural detail are stabilized and consolidated, rather than dismantled. The issue of stabilization and securing monuments and buildings has become even more critical in light of the earthquake damage. It is expected that emergency assistance will contribute to stabilization and consolidation works..

There have been other significant works completed or which are in progress at the property. The numerous images provided in the State Party report and its annex reflect its efforts prior to the earthquake. There are some apparent differences in the stone used and the State Party should be encouraged to undertake repairs and reconstruction works using matching stone, and to ensure authenticity of design and materials when reconstruction is planned. Noting that the State Party has indicated that numerous restoration permits have also been issued in 2021 and 2022, it is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to submit information on any major project to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

The recovery work that has been undertaken seems to have been well coordinated to date. Nonetheless, and in order to plan in the longer term, it is recommended that the State Party be reminded of the Committee’s previous requests to afford priority to a Reconstruction and Recovery Master Plan and the elaboration of an updated Management Plan, to be developed in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

One of the major challenges for recovery of the property is the ongoing lack of available funds. Given the immense challenges of reconstruction and recovery at the property, and considering that it is critical to intervene swiftly to avoid further irreversible loss, the international community is to be encouraged to support the implementation of activities for the stabilization and recovery of the property.

Given the ongoing momentum of recovery projects, and the impact of the February 2023 earthquake, the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission should occur as soon as the security situation allows, in order to proceed with a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property. It is also highly desirable that the required set of corrective measures and the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) be developed as expeditiously as possible.

No information was provided on the previously reported creation of a buffer zone. It is recommended that the Committee recall the need to submit a minor boundary modification to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies, should any buffer zone delineation be agreed upon by stakeholders.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7A.40

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 44 COM 7A.18 and 44 COM 7A.24 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Taking into account Decision 45 COM 7A.46 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic,
  4. Taking note of the UNESCO Rapid Assessment mission carried out to the property in February 2023 following the devastating earthquake, expresses great concerns about the damage inflicted at the property, which poses additional challenges to recovery efforts;
  5. Notes with appreciation that safety measures were implemented in the Old City to protect inhabitants from risks of collapse of damaged structures, as previously requested by the Committee, and encourages the State Party to stabilize and consolidate the original fabric and architectural details, where possible, in preference to dismantling;
  6. Taking note of the continued efforts towards the recovery of the property since December 2016, reiterates its encouragement to all stakeholders to continue their efforts, and requests that repair and reconstruction uses matching stone and that planning for reconstruction ensures the authenticity of design and materials,
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligation to submit information on major projects to the World Heritage Centre, in compliance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Also reminds the State Party of the need to develop a Reconstruction and Recovery Master Plan and an updated Management Plan for the property, and recommends that these plans be developed in line with the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape and in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Calls again on all States Parties to support the emergency safeguarding and recovery measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  10. Reiterates the need for the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to be carried out as soon as the situation allows, in order to proceed with a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property;
  11. Invites the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to facilitate the elaboration of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and a set of corrective measures at the earliest opportunity;
  12. Noting the previously reported issuance of a regulation for the creation of a buffer zone, also reiterates its encouragement to the State Party to submit a proposal for a minor boundary modification to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2024, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines, for review by ICOMOS;
  13. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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;
  14. Decides to retain Ancient City of Aleppo (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/23/45.COM/7A, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.3, WHC/23/45.COM/7A.Add.4),
  2. Having examined the recommendations of the Advisory Bodies, decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
3.    Recalls that the following properties were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 18th extraordinary session (UNESCO, 2023):