Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches

Spain
Factors affecting the property in 2005*
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Project to construct a new bridge over the river Rio Adajo  (issue resolved) 
  • Urban pressure : re-designing of the Plaza Santa Teresa, located between the town walls and the extra-muros Church of San Pedro, including the replacement of traditional buildings with new ones.  
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2005
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2005**

Joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission, 10-12 March 2005

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

On 31 January 2005, the World Heritage Centre received a comprehensive report from the State Party in Spanish.  As requested by the Committee, and based on the State Party report, a joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission took place from 10 to 12 March 2005 to evaluate the impact of the re-designing of the Plaza Santa Teresa, which is located between the circular wall of Avila and the extra-muros Church of San Pedro. 

The overall new urban design project was considered by the mission as necessary, as the  previous state of the Square was very poor, and one that has achieved high quality results.  In fact, the overall organisation of the Square has been significantly improved, with the definition of a new axis that emphasises the position and the architecture of the Church and of the wall’s gate, and with the use of quality materials and urban furniture.

However, the joint UNESCO/ICOMOS mission observed that the new main building facing the portico of the Square is now a predominant feature for volume and height.  The height taken as a reference for the new building was the maximum height of one of the former buildings, and the new construction is thus higher than the previous ones.  The mission therefore regretted the inversion of the dominant architectural values of the square, particularly as the ancient wall and gate have lost their former pre-eminence in favour of the new building.  

Despite its height and volume, this building constitutes a high quality architectural work that it would not be possible to remove or alter. 

With respect to the overall loss of World Heritage values, the mission concluded that they have not been compromised, reasoning that, should the new building have existed at the time of inscription, it would not have prevented the property from being inscribed.

The mission stated that there has been a weakness in the management of the property with regard to the protection of its World Heritage values, and urged the Authorities to strengthen the existing management tools in order to avoid all future risks. 

The mission also noted that the initial nomination proposal of this property did not include a buffer zone or a Management Plan, and therefore recommended that an appropriate buffer zone be established (this would imply an extension of the present limits of the Historico-Artistico ensemble) and indicated the need for an in-depth revision of all the management tools for the core and buffer zones.

At the moment, different planning instruments exist, but their limits do not coincide and are not necessarily coherent with the inscribed property.  The mission noted that the effectivness of the main conservation tool, the “Special Plan for the Protection of the Avila Historico-Artistico Ensemble” (PEPCHA), should be closely examined. 

For instance, the PEPCHA has been revised to allow the development of the project for the Plaza Santa Teresa, thus weakening its overall control and management function.   

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2005
29 COM 7B.69
Old Town of Avila and its Extra-Muros Churches (Spain)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.97, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Thanks the State Party of Spain for having submitted an updated report on the state of conservation of the property;

4. Regrets that the municipality allowed the construction of a building whose height and volume alter the historic architectural values of the square;

5. Recalls the importance of fully respecting paragraph 173 c) of the Operational Guidelines;

6. Also regrets that the concerned authorities did not consult with the World Heritage Centre regarding the project in time so as to avoid the alteration of historic urban fabric at the Plaza Santa Teresa;

7. Acknowledges the importance of the design of the Santa Teresa square and the establishment of a visual axis between the church and the gate;

8. Urges the State Party to improve the reporting mechanism to the Committee according to Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

9. Encourages the State Party together with the local authorities to improve specific legislation so as to ensure appropriate legal protection of the historic urban fabric and structure on a national level;

10. Requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre in the framework of the Periodic Reporting exercise with an updated report designating the buffer zones;

11. Also requests ICOMOS to submit at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) a detailed report on the visual impact of the building to the outstanding universal value of the property;

12. Further requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre by 1February 2006 with a progress report on the legal status and the implementation of the protection zones for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).

 Draft Decision: 29 COM 7B.69

The World Heritage Committee,

1.              Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2.               Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.97, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3.              Thanks the State Party for having submitted an update report on the state of conservation of the property;

4.              Regrets that the municipality allowed the construction of a building whose height and volume alter the historic architectural values of the square;

5.              Also regrets that the concerned authorities did not consult with the World Heritage Centre regarding the project in time so as to avoid the alteration of historic urban fabric at the Plaza Santa Teresa;

6.              Acknowledges the importance of the design of the Santa Teresa square and the establishment of a visual axis between the church and the gate;

7.              Urges the State Party to improve the reporting mechanism to the Committee according to Paragraph 172 of the new Operational Guidelines;

8.              Encourages the State Party together with the local authorities to improve specific legislation so as to ensure appropriate legal protection of the historic urban fabric and structure on a national level;

9.              Requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre in the framework of the Periodic Reporting exercise with an updated report designating the buffer  zones;

10.           Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with a progress report on the legal status and the implementation of the protection zones by 1 February 2007 for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

Report year: 2005
Spain
Date of Inscription: 1985
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 29COM (2005)
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.