1.         Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (Georgia) (C 708bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

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/708/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 70,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/708/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

November 2003 and June 2008: Joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Lack of a management mechanism;

b) Insufficient coordination between the Georgian Church and the national authorities;

c) Lack of definition of property and buffer zones;

d) Privatisation of surrounding land;

e) Natural erosion of stone;

f) Loss of authenticity in recent works carried out by the Church. 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/708/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

The World Heritage Committee, at its 32nd session (Quebec City, July 2008), expressed its serious concern about the privatization processes of land situated in the vicinity of the property, and urged the State Party to immediately halt these before the boundary clarification and the preparation of a "Special Statement on protection of World Heritage properties in Georgia" are completed. The World Heritage Committee reiterated its request to give highest priority to development of an integrated management plan for the property, and invited the State Party to establish a Special State Commission on World Heritage. Expressing its serious concern about the state of conservation of the archaeological components of the property, the World Heritage Committee urged the State Party to develop a special programme on protection of all archaeological components and indicated that, in the absence of substantial progress, it would consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The State Party state of conservation report was received on 29 January 2009 and covered:

a) Conservation

The main Church, the northern small Church, parekklession and southern building of the Jvari Monastery: Damaging impact of aggressive natural conditions on stones is still a problem during 2008. Parts of the bas-reliefs have completely disappeared. Construction issues are still the same: the damaged cupola pillars, threshold stress and cracks in the carrier structures. Some building stones around the eastern arches and around the foundation of the main church are damaged - mould, sooty walls, and cracked building stones are reported. The tiles of cupola’s roofing needs immediate renovation. The small Church remains without roofing. The report underlines that the small Church has partially lost its authenticity due to the use of inappropriate materials during the “restoration” works. The conservation project for the small Jvari Church has been prepared. These existing damages are only planned to be addressed in 2009. The joint ICCROM project on conservation of the Saint Cross Monastery is still under implementation. In 2008, the Small Jvari Church Site Development Plan was completed and works were started to develop a conservation plan.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the Bell Tower, Catholicos-Patriarch Melchisedec Palace, Catholicos-Patriarch Antony Palace, The Defence Wall: The report noted that parts of the Cathedral walls are disintegrating and in a wrecking state, some building stones of the northern façade are partially demolished, the tiles of roof are partially cracked, the increased humidity damaged the frescoes. The state of conservation of wall paintings should be studied. The XVIIth century Bell Tower was demolished; the gates of Catholicos- Patriarch Melchisedec Palace urgently need rehabilitationworks. The State Party is monitoring Svetitskhoveli Cathedral to assess its structural state and develop a detailed plan to ensure conservation of the frescos. The report states that the Palace of Catholicos - Patriarch Anton II in the South-Eastern part of a courtyard, reconstructed between 2001 – 2004 has partially lost its authenticity.

Samtavro Nunnery: The report informed that the problem of roofing of the Cathedral still remains unresolved. The original tiled roofing should be restored. In the Cathedral, archaeological research has not been completed. The northern and southern annexes of the Cathedral need archaeological research, as well as the territory inside the defence wall. The Bell tower significantly bended to the Cathedral needs comprehensive research and conservation works should be implemented on the remains of the King Mirian Palace. In 2008, the restoration works were concluded, which aimed at restoring the bearing wall adjacent to the Tower of Gabriel the Monk and damaged by natural conditions. As the project design had stipulated, a cobble-stone wall with regular sandstone quartz was constructed in front of the concrete wall. In order to prevent accumulation of water in the rear of the wall, drainage of plastic pipe work was arranged in the wall. In order to prepare for conservation of the Samtavro St. Nino Church existing damages were studied and assessed, which led to a plan to construct a new roof to the church.

Armaztsikhe-Bagineti, The roman-type bathes, the “Column Hall”, Fortification system: The report also noted that the six-Apse Church has lost its authenticity due to the reconstruction works conducted with unacceptable methods. The roman-type bathes andthe ”Column Hall“ need conservation. There is a risk of destruction of the building due to the aggressive influence of climatic conditions. Conservation works on the Fortification systemshould include different construction periods and layers and a conservation and rehabilitation plan should be developed. In September 2008 a competition was announced, aiming at drafting a development concept of Armaztsikhe-Bagineti. Its results are to be announced in spring 2009. Recommendations have been prepared on issues comprising site development, monument conservation and planning of tourist infrastructure.


b) Boundaries

Concerning the boundary issues, the State Party underlined that the Law of Georgia on Cultural Heritage has defined a special protection area for all components of the property of a 1 km radius and that the protection zones such as Construction Regulation Zone, Archaeological Heritage Zone, Landscape Protection Zone are currently being adjusted and expanded based on the requirements. The protection zones also regulate new constructions. As a result, there were no incompliant buildings constructed during 2008.

In 2008, the development plan process aiming at restoring the geographic and historical connection between the Jvari Church and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral started, including the rehabilitation of historic routes.


c) Inventories

The State Party also mentioned that the Ministry of Culture, established a regular monitoring exercise for all World Heritage properties, as well as recorded a full inventory of archaeological and architectural monuments in Mtskheta. The creation of the data base of the Historical Monuments of Mtskheta was initiated by the National Agency. Monitoring missions are regularly visiting all properties and are producing summary state of conservation report every year.


d) Management

The State Party created in 2008 an ad-hoc “Committee of World Cultural Heritage” established under the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation to be in charge to define functions and liabilities of state agencies, regulate national, local and religious rights in order to ensure a protection and management of the World Heritage properties. This ad-hoc Committee shall deal with issues existing in the usage of monuments between private owners, the state and the Patriarchate as well as with privatization-related problems. The Mtskheta Museum-Reserve was reorganized and transformed into the Greater Mtskheta State Archaeological Museum-Reserve and affiliated, in 2008, with the aforementioned National Agency.

The State Party informed that the Mtskheta Heritage and Tourism Master Plan developed in collaboration with UNESCO and UNDP is under examination for formal approval by the Ministry of Culture.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS remain greatly concerned by the state of conservation of this property and that some monuments may no longer be authentic.

The report provides very limited information concerning the preparation of a legal and technical basis to address the threats. The State Party did not provided any detailed responses to the World Heritage Committee’s key requests such as the land privatization issues, development of an integrated management plan for the property, establishment of a Special State Commission on World Heritage issues, development of a special programme on protection of all archaeological components, monitoring of Svetiskhoveli Cathedral. No document clarifying the exact boundaries of protected areas of the property and its buffer zones, or any boundary modification proposal, has been provided by the State Party. The State Party did not provide any comments concerning the eventual inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS consider that the State Party has been unable to take into account the World Heritage Committee’s decisions or to carry out the necessary preparatory activities to address existing and any new potential threats.

Considering Paragraphs 177 – 179 of the Operational Guidelines, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS note the absence of substantial progress, which could lead to the possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger. They furthermore consider that the progress, if exist, cannot be evaluated on the basis of the report submitted by the State Party, and therefore suggest a reactive monitoring mission to the property.


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


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.102

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.90, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Expresses its serious concern about the state of conservation of the different components of the property;

4. Regrets that the State Party report did not adequately address the preparation of legal and technical provisions to address the various threats, the aspect of land privatization, the development of an integrated management plan and the development of a special programme on the protection of all archaeological components;

5. Further regrets that the State Party did not submit documents clarifying the exact boundaries of the protected area of the property and its buffer zone;

6. Notes with regrets that some components have lost their authenticity due to restoration works conducted with unacceptable methods;

7. Decides to inscribe the Historic Monuments of Mtskheta (Georgia) on the List of the World Heritage in Danger;

8. Urges the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value a proposed desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of the World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

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

10. Also requests to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendation contained in Decision 32 COM 7B.90, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 8C.1

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-09/33.COM/7B, WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Add and WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Corr) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-09/33.COM/8B),

2. Decides to inscribe the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: