1.         Historic Centre of Prague (Czechia) (C 616bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1992

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(vi)

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/616/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2003-2003)
Total amount approved: USD 40,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

27 February – 2 March 2008 : World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party’s report of 1 February 2008 responds to the issues highlighted in the World Heritage Committee’s Decision 31 COM 7B.94, and also provides a comprehensive overview of the history and present status of approaches to the conservation and management of the Historic Centre of Prague.

This overview includes detailed information on current monument care issues identified by state authorities (including basic characteristics and information regarding the property; legislation, urban planning and the management of the protection of the City’s Monument Fund; monument care issues in the Historic Centre of Prague and its buffer zone; city population and environment; institutional cooperation in protecting monuments), and a detailed description of all larger restoration works, changes and new buildings within the preserved area in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, for the period 2004 -2007 (including financial support as well as restorations, renovations, new buildings and planned constructions implemented or in progress). This overview also contains annexes including a study on the visual integrity of the Historic Centre of Prague, a conceptual framework for more efficient conservation, analysis of the urban development project for the Pankrác Plain and impacts on the outstanding universal value and visual integrity, as well as maps of large development areas, analysis of constructions in terms of proportions, capacities and scale against the “historic dominants in the skyline of the Historic Centre of Prague, and comparative photographs. This report is an exemplary model of its kind and the State Party should be commended for the great attention to detail within it.

The State Party report also provided a basis for the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission to the World Heritage property requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session, which was carried out from 27 February to 2 March 2008.

The mission acknowledged the progress made by the authorities involved with the property, noting that the City of Prague has been able to manage successfully an important restoration and conservation programme and that significant improvements have been brought about in the overall legislative, planning and management system related to urban conservation.

The mission specifically covered the issues raised by the World Heritage Committee, in particular the proposal for new high-rise building projects within the Pankrác Plain, and their potential impact on the visual integrity of the Historic Centre of Prague.

Concerning the development of high rise constructions on the Pankrác plain, the State Party report pointed out that this area has long been treated as a “future citywide centre” and that this concept was indicated in the “draft development plan of the City of Prague, confirmed by the comprehensive approval issued by the Prague City Council as of 31.10.1996”. The development plan envisaged development of local and city-wide municipal facilities “to increase the attractiveness of the area and to facilitate reducing the concentration of city-wide functions in the Historic Centre of Prague.” The State Party report notes that the three constructions to date were built in conformity with the development vision of the City at the time, and concerning the present proposal (2004), it notes:

“The presented conception of Pankrác Plain with two high-rise buildings, apartment house and a hotel is in compliance with the applicable development plan of the City of Prague and with the status of the Prague city heritage site. The lot lies outside the area where the Development Plan restricts construction of high-rise buildings.”

Concerning this proposal, the mission takes a more cautious attitude about perpetuating existing negative visual impacts. Its concluded that the solutions to be adopted should at least not extend the visual intrusion on what would be – otherwise – “one of the best preserved European urban historic landscapes”. The mission recommended limiting the height of the new high-rise constructions to a maximum of 60-70 m, to limit the visual impacts on the historic urban landscape of the World Heritage property. This height level has been proposed to mediate between the height of the tallest existing buildings (100 m) and the height of the existing commercial centre (about 35 m). This would require reduction of the height of the two new proposed buildings, planned originally to be 80 m and 104 m. The mission suggested that this height reduction would maintain the viability of the investment, while reducing significantly the visual negative impact on the historic landscape.

The mission also looked into the adequacy of existing planning measures in the face of the ever increasing development pressures confronting the city, now attracting 4 million tourists a year. It has made a number of strategic recommendations, developed in consultations with the State Party aimed to streamline processes and to strengthen the management of the World Heritage property.

These include: