Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1992
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/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 40,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/616/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
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.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.86
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B.Add,
2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.94, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),
3. Commends the State Party for its exemplary report on the state of conservation of the property and acknowledges the ongoing improvements of the overall legislative, planning and management system for urban conservation;
4. Requests the State Party to improve the effectiveness of its existing planning, management and conservation measures for the property, as recommended by the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission, by:
a) strengthening the authority of the National Heritage Institute to enable it to orient the main decisions affecting the integrity of the Historic Centre;
b) clarifying and integrating the rules presently in force to manage processes such as infill, reconstruction, rehabilitation and conservation in a unitary code to improve the ability of the responsible authorities to maintain the integrity of the original fabric of the city;
c) urgently completing and approving the conservation plan for the Historic Centre in order to provide an effective zoning and planning tool for the conservation process in the Historic Centre;
d) completing the management plan of the property within the year 2008 as a comprehensive tool for the coordination of all the different regulatory and policy frameworks existing or foreseen for the Historic Centre, for eventual review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
5. Encourages the State Party to adopt the following measures proposed by the joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS mission to reduce further negative impacts of high rise construction in the property and its buffer zone:
a) complete and adopt the high-rise limitations plan, in order to avoid possible visual intrusion into the historic urban landscape of Prague;
b) conduct an evaluation of the present buffer zones of the Historic Centre in order to assess their effectiveness in protecting the visual integrity of the city and, if needed, extend these and adopt appropriate related zoning regulations;
c) limit, in the case of the Pankrác Plain, the height of the new high-rise constructionsto a maximum of 60-70 m, in order to avoid visual impacts on the historic urban landscape of the property;
d) inform the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any project that could affect the visual integrity of the World Heritage site;
6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a detailed report on the state of conservation of the property, including progress reports on efforts to address the measures proposed above, and in particular concerning the recommendation to curtail heights of planned high rise structures in the Pankrác Plain, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.
Decision Adopted: 32 COM 8B.84
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add,
2. Adopts the following Statement of Significance for the Historic Centre of Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe in terms of its setting on both banks of the Vltava River, its townscape of burger houses and palaces punctuated by towers, and its individual buildings
The Historic Centre represents a supreme manifestation of Medieval urbanism (the New Town of Emperor Charles IV built as the New Jerusalem). The Prague architectural works of the Gothic Period (14th and 15th centuries), of the High Baroque of the 1st half of the 18th century and of the rising modernism after the year 1900, influenced the development of Central Europe, perhaps even all European architecture. Prague represents one of the most prominent world centres of creative life in the field of urbanism and architecture across generations, human mentality and beliefs.
Prague belongs to the group of historic cities which have preserved the structure of their development until the present times. Within the core of Prague, successive stages of growth and changes have respected the original grand-scale urban structure of the Early Middle Ages. This structure was essentially and greatly enlarged with urban activities in the High Gothic period with more additions during the High Baroque period and in the 19th century. It has been saved from any large-scale urban renewal or massive demolitions and thus preserves its overall configuration, pattern and spatial composition.
In the course of the 1100 years of its existence, Prague's development can be documented in the architectural expression of many historical periods and their styles. The city is rich in outstanding monuments from all periods of its history. Of particular importance are Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Hradćany Square in front of the Castle, the Valdgtejn Palace on the left bank of the river, the Gothic Charles Bridge, the Romanesque Rotunda of the Holy Rood, the Gothic arcaded houses round the Old Town Square, the High Gothic Minorite Church of St James in the Stark Mĕsto, the late 19th century buildings and town plan of the Nave Mĕsto.
As early as the Middle Ages, Prague became one of the leading cultural centres of Christian Europe. The Prague University, founded in 1348, is one of the earliest in Europe. The milieu of the University in the last quarter of the 14th century and the first years of the 15th century contributed among other things to the formation of ideas of the Hussite Movement which represented in fact the first steps of the European Reformation. As a metropolis of culture, Prague is connected with prominent names in art, science and politics, such as Charles IV, Petr Parléř, Jan Hus, Johannes Kepler, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Kafka, Antonín Dvořák, Albert Einstein, Edvard Beneš (co-founder of the League of Nations) and Václav Havel.
Criterion (ii): The historic centre of Prague admirably illustrates the process of continuous urban growth from the Middle Ages to the present day. Its important role in the political, economic, social, and cultural evolution of central Europe from the 14th century onwards and the richness of its architectural and artistic traditions meant that it served as a major model for urban development for much of central and eastern Europe.
Criterion (iv): Prague is an urban architectural ensemble of outstanding quality, in terms of both its individual monuments and its townscape, and one that is deservedly world-famous.
Criterion (vi): The role of Prague in the medieval development of Christianity in central Europe was an outstanding one, as was its formative influence in the evolution of towns. By virtue of its political significance in the later Middle Ages and after, it attracted architects and artists from all over Europe, who contributed to its wealth of architectural and artistic treasures. The 15th century foundation of Charles University made Prague a renowned seat of learning, a reputation that it has preserved up to the present day. Since the reign of Charles IV, Prague has also been the intellectual and cultural centre of central Europe, and is indelibly associated with such world-famous names as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Kafka.
3. Recommends that assessment for statements of authenticity and integrity / statements of protection and management should be postponed to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee (2009) awaiting adoption of a methodology and an agreed format for Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for inscribed properties.