1.         Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (Russian Federation) (C 632)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1992

Criteria  (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/632/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

August 2013: joint UNESCO/ICCROM/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission; April 2018: joint UNESCO/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 1 December 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, an executive summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/documents. Progress on a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in this report, as follows:

On 12 May 2022, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party requesting comments on third-party information in relation to reported changes to the legal status of some elements of the property. At the time of preparation of this report, no reply has been received from the State Party.

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

Progress towards the designation of the property as a religious-historical site is welcomed. This approach was supported by ICOMOS missions to reinforce the conservation of the archipelago as a living sacred cultural landscape with intertwined culture/nature/people processes. The detailed landscape inventories that have been undertaken are also welcomed, including studies of ‘lost’ monastic sites and areas related to former economic activities. The proposed reconstruction (restoration) concept for these sites should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The Master Plan for the settlement part of the archipelago is nearing completion. As the State Party finds the term Master Plan difficult to translate, it would prefer the term Development Strategy, as this implies a strategy for spatial development whereas Master Plan translates as a General Plan for planning and development. To ensure equivalence with other properties, it is suggested that ‘Master Plan (Development Strategy)’ be used in state of conservation reports and ‘Development Strategy’, locally.

The Master Plan (Development Strategy) will define an integrated approach to preserving and reviving the key historical spatial elements of the cultural landscape, including the network of monastic roads, dikes, lake and canal systems and agricultural landscapes. Once finalised and approved, a management plan will be developed.

All restoration projects are now supported by the Ministry of Culture, the Solovetsky Museum, Solovetsky Monastery and the Russian Orthodox Church, and are undertaken by contractors who are licensed by the Ministry. This approach is welcomed.

The extensive list of projects undertaken over the past two years includes routine conservation work, emergency repairs and large-scale projects such as the extensive restoration of the Cathedral Bell Tower, adaptation projects for the 19th century monastic power plant, the seaplane hangar and an airport development project. For all these large projects, the State Party has been in dialogue with ICOMOS, and technical reviews have been provided. In 2022, ICOMOS provided technical reviews on the possible reconstruction of St. Onuphrius’ Church and a new waste management facility, and in 2023 on the conversion of the Soviet-era vegetable storehouse and the redesign of the museum building.

At its 40th session in 2016, the Committee requested the State Party to halt work on the construction of a major museum building in light of the adverse impact this project would have on the OUV of the property, to demolish what had already been built and to submit new proposals. Under the current plans, the existing half-built structure will be reduced to one storey, covered with a grass roof and screened by new trees planted to minimise light pollution. This creative approach is commendable and results in an acceptable, if not ideal, building that does not impact adversely on the OUV. The solution should be seen as a one-off solution, appropriate to these circumstances.

A start on the scientific documentation necessary to support the restoration of those parts of the main island’s hydrological systems that present serious problems is welcome. Covering some 52 lakes and several kilometres of canals, this single system dating mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries underpins the cultural landscape of the main island, supplies water for the monastery from the Sacred Lake and once provided power for mills.

It is noted that HIAs have been introduced for all new constructions. These should also apply to major restoration projects and, when submitted, should include proposed plans.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.197

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.159 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Welcomes progress towards the designation of the property as a religious-historical site, to reinforce conservation of the archipelago as a living, sacred, cultural landscape with intertwined culture, nature, people and process and strong intangible associations; and requests the State Party to clarify that this designation will protect all the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Appreciates concerns over the translation of the term ‘Master Plan’ and agrees that in future, this will be referred to as ‘Master Plan (Development Strategy)’ in state of conservation documents and as ‘Development Strategy’ locally;
  5. Notes that the Master Plan (Development Strategy) is nearing completion for the settlement part of the main island, reiterates its request for this to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before final approval, and further notes that a Management Plan will be developed once the Master Plan (Development Strategy) has been approved;
  6. Also welcomes the process that is now in place for major restoration projects which involves support from the Ministry of Culture, Solovetsky Museum, Solovetsky Monastery and the Russian Orthodox Church and the use of contractors licensed by the Ministry, and requests the State Party to submit details of major conservation projects to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies in advance of work commencing;
  7. Notes the extensive list of projects that have been undertaken over the past two years, including routine conservation work, emergency repairs and large-scale projects, welcomes the dialogue between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, as well as the ICOMOS technical reviews, which have been provided, and encourages the State Party to take into account their recommendations;
  8. Commends the creative proposals to re-shape the half-built museum building, in response to the Committee’s request at its 40th session to halt work, demolish what had already been built, and submit new proposals, and considers that the submitted plans, which reduce the existing half-built structure to one storey, cover it with a grass roof and screen it with planted trees, result in an acceptable, if not ideal, building that does not impact adversely on the property’s OUV, but recalls that this is an appropriate solution in these circumstances;
  9. Further welcomes the collection of scientific documentation for the restoration of parts of the main island’s hydrological systems which present serious problems, underlines the crucial impact of this single system of 52 lakes and several kilometres of canals, dating mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries, on the cultural landscape of the main island and on the supply of water to the monastery from the Sacred Lake, and welcomes the commitment of the State Party to take into account the recommendations of the missions and the advice of ICOMOS experts as this project develops;
  10. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies the proposed reconstruction (restoration) concept for the ‘lost’ monastic sites and areas related to former economic activities, once it has been developed and before its implementation;
  11. Further notes that Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been introduced for all new construction, encourages the State Party to extend this measure to major conservation projects, appreciates the detailed HIAs which have already been provided, and requests that in future such assessments for major restoration projects as well as for new construction be submitted to the World Heritage Centre, accompanied by copies of the proposed plans, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  12. Reiterates its request that details of the repair and restoration project of the largely destroyed, early-19th-century Preobrazhenskaya Hotel be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies at the earliest stage possible, considering its prominence near the Monastery;
  13. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 47th session.