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Ancient City of Nessebar

Bulgaria
Factors affecting the property in 2010*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Relative humidity
  • Wind
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2010
Requests approved: 3 (from 1991-1995)
Total amount approved : 21,290 USD
Missions to the property until 2010**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

During recent years, the World Heritage Centre has been informed on different issues concerning new developments in the Ancient City of Nessebar, including inappropriate and illegal demolition and construction, the state of conservation of the historic monuments and various interventions to the urban fabric, as well as on possible threats to this World Heritage property by inappropriate tourism development.

In Section II of the Periodic Report for Europe (Cycle 1) on the state of conservation of the Ancient City of Nessebar 2005, the State Party provided information about the threats to the World Heritage property and its buffer zone, as well as on the measures to be undertaken to address these challenges.

On 4 January 2006, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that a joint committeecomposed of the responsible directors fromthe Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Workshad been set up in December 2005. This committee decided to start the elaboration of a Management Plan, as well as to update existing regulations, including the Development Plan.

On 28 January 2007, the State Party informed the World Heritage Centre that a number of constructions were executed without approval by the National Institute for Cultural Monuments (NICM), a consultative body within the Ministry of Culture. Deviations occurred in the architectural elements, details and materials used, as well as in the dimensional parameters of the buildings. The NICM established several commissions for the prevention and abolition of the illegal constructions.

Furthermore, at its 32nd session, the World Heritage Committee took note of the clarifications of boundaries and size of the Ancient City of Nessebar provided by the State Party in response to the Retrospective Inventory (Decision 32 COM 8D).

Following numerous meetings with the Bulgarian national and local authorities, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party on 27 June 2009 to provide a detailed report on the state of conservation of this property, including the following documents:

  • the Management Plan of the property, including the tourism development programme;
  • the Master Plan of the city, including the regulations for the construction and restoration works;
  • the description of the adopted restrictive measures concerning movable equipment (tourist shops) within the property;
  • all relevant legal documents concerning the property and its land use.
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    On 7 April 2010, the State Party submitted a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property. The following issues have been addressed in the State Party’s report:

    a) State of conservation

    • Archaeological sites: The State Party submitted a report on 18 archaeological sites and remains in Appendix 8. Even though some conservation and restoration workshave been carried out in past years, the State Party underlined several threats due to the bad condition of the remains, a risk of destruction of some sections of the wall, and inappropriate use (e.g. fast-food restaurants are placed on the ruins of Hellenistic houses). Emergency measures should be taken to protect archaeological sites, and an overall project to reinforce, protect, restore and present archaeological sites to the public should be prepared and implemented.
    • Medieval monuments: The State Party submitted a report on 13 churches in Appendix 7. Emergency measures should be taken toconsolidate and restore 6 churches in order to resolve serious structural problems, capillary moisture and partial loss of mural paintings. Among the churches described in the report, the Church of the Assumption is the only one in use. Recent inappropriate works of construction and restoration of mural paintings have been conducted in this church without any agreement with the national authorities. On 19 November 2009, the Municipality of Nessebar informed the national authorities that an inventory of illegal works undertaken in violation of the Cultural Heritage Act has been created. Other churches are used as art galleries or museums. The State Party mentioned the lack of an appropriate approach in organizing exhibitions in those historic monuments. 
    • Urban fabric and 19th century wooden houses: The State Party’s report did not mention the condition of 19th century wooden houses and structures, but included in Appendix 9 a complete description and photos of 132 illegal works carried out in the city despite the Cultural Heritage Act, which illustrate the lack of an appropriate approach to the preservation of authentic urban fabric and to the integrity of the property. The State Party provided a detailed list of proposals to regulate interventions (including urban equipment and commercial activities), as well as measures necessary to preserve the authenticity of the city’s urban fabric and its visual integrity.Situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea, the more than 3,000-year-old site of Nessebar was originally a Thracian settlement (Menebria). At the beginning of the 6th century BC, the city became a Greek colony. The city’s remains, which date mostly from the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and a wall from the Thracian fortifications. Among other monuments, the Stara Mitropolia Basilica and the fortress date from the Middle Ages, when this was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the west coast of the Black Sea. Wooden houses built in the 19th century are typical of the Black Sea architecture of the period.
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      b) Legal documents and management

      The State Party’s report provided detailed information on statutory acts, directives and regulations in force in Appendices 1-5, such as the 2009 Cultural Heritage Act, 2001 Territorial Planning Act, 2008Black Sea Coastline Area Planning Act, 1986 Directive “Plan-Concept” for the monuments, 1981 Building Development and Regulation Plan, and the 1991 Building Development and Regulation Plan of the Archaeological and Architectural Reserve of Nessebar.

      However, the State Party highlighted in the main part of the report, the limited financial and human resources available, as well as the lack of regional structures, appropriate management system and legal framework specifically focused on the protection of the Ancient City of Nessebar as a World Heritage property (such as an updated strategy for protection of the World Heritage property, a programme for tourism development, protection and management plan and detailed protection area regimes for the Ancient City of Nessebar). A final Regulation and Development Plan for the Ancient City of Nessebar has not been adopted so far. The report mentioned that works were undertaken in violation of the Cultural Heritage Act and the Territorial Planning Act and the regulations of the Municipality of Nessebar due to lack of the supervision at local level needed to avoid and prevent illegal interventions. In addition, the report highlights the crucial need to establish a dialogue between the national and local authorities concerned, and hold consultations with the owners and users.

      c) Main factors affecting the property

      The State Party reports that the main factors affecting the property are still:

      • Lack of conservation, restoration and consolidation of monuments and archaeological sites;
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        • Uncontrolled urban development (demolition, reconstruction, illegal construction);
        • Visitor and tourism pressure;
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          • Lack of a legal framework and management system;
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            • Threats related to the environment pressure and climate (marine humidity and salinity, erosion of the coast, wind abrasive impact).
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              d) Activities undertaken by the national authorities for the protection of the property:

              • from 1960s to 1980s: conservation and restoration of the archaeological remains, the medieval churches and most of the 19th century houses;
              • research and periodic monitoring of the churches (control of microclimate; emergency control of humidity; anti-capillary moisture system); 
              • monitoring of main monuments and urban fabric; 
              • research of main archaeological sites;
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                • numerous inspections and meetings identifying illegal interventions in the city;
                • establishment of recommendations to remove all illegal constructions;
                • establishment of an access regime for some churches;
                • regulation of visitors pressure by the Municipality of Nessebar;
                • installation of information panels;
                • analysis aiming to establish criteria for the establishment of protection zones;
                • elaboration of protection regimes for eight city’s zones;
                • analysis of risks related to the climate(1993);
                • study of climatic characteristic of the area.
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                  e) Proposed measures for protection and management:

                  In its report, the State Party proposed main actions to be implemented in order to maintain the World Heritage status of the property, in particular:

                  • Preparation of a strategy for sustainable development of the city;
                  • Preparation and adoption of an Urban Development Plan of the city, including detailed protection regimes and regulations;
                  • Preparation of a project to re-establish the authenticity of the City in line with the protection requirements;
                  • Modification of the boundaries of the World Heritage property;
                  • Removing of all movable facilities and advertisements out of the Ancient City of Nessebar and establishment of an overall concept for necessary facilities; 
                  • Preparation of a specialized cadastral map, including archaeological cadastre; 
                  • Preparation, adoption and implementation of a protection and management plan for the Ancient City of Nessebar;
                  • Preparation of a programme for the development of cultural tourism;
                  • Preparation of an urban design concept ;
                  • Establishment of an inventory and of a heritage information system;
                  • Submission by the Municipality of Nessebar to the national authorities of the sea defense project along the coastline of the peninsula and the architectural project of the sea defense of the coastline of the Ancient City;
                  • Creation of a specialized body within the Municipality of Nessebar for cultural heritage protection;
                  • Creation of a joint body (with the participation of non-governmental organizations and representatives of scientific institutes) to coordinate the activities related to the protection of the World Heritage property.
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                    The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note, with deep concern, serious changes due to inappropriate urban development; the substantial visual impact of some developments; lack of conservation, restoration and consolidation of monuments and archaeological sites; lack of an appropriate management system and legal framework in the urban fabric combined with the lack of coordination among authorities, which is a potential threat to the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property.  

                    The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that a mission be sent to enable the World Heritage Committee to examine the state of conservation of this property, with a view to considering the inscription of the World Heritage property of the Ancient City of Nessebar, Bulgaria, on the List of the World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2010
34 COM 7B.81
Ancient City of Nessebar (Bulgaria) (C 217)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

2. Takes note of the detailed information provided by the State Party on the state of conservation of the property;

3. Expresses its deep concern regarding the overall state of conservation of the property, and in particular, serious changes due to unacceptable development of the urban fabric that are a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property;

4. Urges the State Party to immediately adopt all necessary measures aiming to ensure the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property, monitoring and survey of the urban fabric, preparation, adoption and implementation of a management plan (including tourism strategy and guidelines for the use of historic buildings and monuments), urban master plan and a conservation master plan of monuments and archaeological sites;

5. Also urges the State Party and the Municipality authorities to immediately stop any development projects which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property, and to inform the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, on any intention to undertake or to authorize such projects;

6. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission to the property in 2010 to assess the state of conservation of the property;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2011, a detailed progress report on the state of conservation of the property, including the results of monitoring and survey of the urban fabric, monuments and archaeological sites, the approved management and urban master plans, conservation master plan of monuments and archaeological sites, and a report on the use of the historic buildings and monuments, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011, 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.

34 COM 8E
Adoption of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/8E,

2. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex I of Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8E, WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/8E.Add.2 for the following World Heritage properties: 

  • Algeria: Al Qal'a of Beni Hammad; M'Zab Valley; Djémila; Tipasa; Tassili n'Ajjer; Timgad; Kasbah of Algiers;
  • Austria: Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg; Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn; Hallstatt-Dachstein / Salzkammergut Cultural Landscape;
  • Bulgaria: Boyana Church; Madara Rider; Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak; Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo; Rila Monastery; Ancient City of Nessebar; Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari;
  • Côte d'Ivoire: Comoé National Park;
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo: Okapi Wildlife Reserve;
  • Denmark: Jelling Mounds, Runic Stones and Church; Roskilde Cathedral;
  • Ethiopia: SimienNational Park;
  • Israel: Masada; Old City of Acre; White City of Tel-Aviv - the Modern Movement; Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev; Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba;
  • Jordan: Petra; Quseir Amra; Um er-Rasas (Kastrom Mefa'a);
  • Lebanon: Anjar; Byblos; Baalbek; Tyre; Ouadi Qadisha (the Holy Valley) and the Forest of the Cedars of God (Horsh Arz-el-Rab);
  • Malawi: Lake Malawi National Park;
  • Mauritania: Banc d'Arguin National Park; Ancient Ksour of Ouadane, Chinguetti, Tichitt and Oualata;
  • Morocco: Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou; Historic City of Meknes; Archaeological Site of Volubilis; Medina of Essaouira (formerly Mogador); Medina of Fez; Medina of Marrakesh; Medina of Tétouan (formerly known as Titawin); Portuguese City of Mazagan (El Jadida);
  • Niger: Air and Ténéré Natural Reserves; W National Park of Niger;
  • Oman: Bahla Fort;
  • Portugal: Laurisilva of Madeira;
  • Senegal: Island of Gorée; Niokolo-Koba National Park;
  • Seychelles: Aldabra Atoll; Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve;
  • South Africa: Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs.
  • Spain: Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville ;
  • Sudan: Gebel Barkal and the Sites of the Napatan Region;
  • Syrian Arab Republic: Ancient City of Bosra; Ancient City of Aleppo; Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din; City of Damascus; Site of Palmyra;
  • Tunisia: Archaeological Site of Carthage; Amphitheatre of El Jem; Ichkeul National Park; Medina of Sousse; Kairouan; Medina of Tunis; Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis; Dougga / Thugga;
  • Uganda: Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi;
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: Saltaire; Dorset and East Devon Coast; Derwent Valley Mills; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City; Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape.
  • United Republic of Tanzania: Selous Game Reserve; Kilimanjaro National Park;
  • Yemen: Historic Town of Zabid;

3. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed in priority;

4. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely:

  • World Heritage properties in the Arab States;
  • World Heritage properties in Africa;
  • World Heritage properties in Asia and the Pacific;
  • World Heritage properties in Latin America and the Caribbean;
  • World Heritage properties in Europe and North America.
Draft Decision: 34 COM 7B.81

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add,

2. Takes note of the detailed information provided by the State Party on the state of conservation of the property;

3. Expresses its deep concern regarding the overall state of conservation of the property, and in particular, serious changes due to unacceptable development of the urban fabric that are a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property;

4. Urges the State Party to immediately adopt all necessary measures aiming to ensure the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property, monitoring and survey of the urban fabric, preparation, adoption and implementation of a Management Plan (including tourism strategy and guidelines for the use of historic buildings and monuments), Urban Master Plan and a Conservation Master Plan of monuments and archaeological sites;

5. Also urges the State Party and the Municipality authorities to immediately stop any development projects which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of the property, and to inform the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, on any intention to undertake or to authorize such projects;

6. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission to the property in 2010 to assess the state of conservation of the property;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2011, a detailed progress report on the state of conservation of the property, including the results of monitoring and survey of the urban fabric, monuments and archaeological sites, the approved Management and Urban Master Plans, Conservation Master Plan of monuments and archaeological sites, and a report on the use of the historic buildings and monuments, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011, 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: 2010
Bulgaria
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 34COM (2010)
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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