Prague may go on World Heritage in Danger list, warns UNESCO

The historic center of Prague has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.


Written by ČTK Published on 24.10.2019 10:48:16 (updated on 24.10.2019) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – The historic centre of Prague may go on the list of World Heritage in Danger as Czech officials do not protect it enough, according to a report written after the UNESCO World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission in Prague in March that CTK received from ICOMOS.

The UNESCO/ICOMOS report has been sent to the Czech Culture Ministry and the City of Prague. Culture Minister Lubomir Zaoralek pointed out that Prague is not on the list of endangered monuments yet. He said negotiations with UNESCO were under way and the Czech Republic.

“UNESCO will be waiting how we are going to react. It depends on how we will cope with their reservations, further assessments will take place,” Zaoralek said.

“The reports from missions are always written diplomatically. If mistakes are mentioned like this and criticised, it is a serious breach of the conditions that the Czech Republic pledged to meet with World Heritage listing of Prague,” Vaclav Girsa, head of the Czech National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), said.

The historic center of Prague has been listed as a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) since 1992.

The Czech capital city may lose its designation as a world heritage site due to existing and planned high-rise buildings.

The report says the city may be listed as an endangered monument also because of the planned new construction law, which does not consider heritage conservation stances obligatory.

UNESCO/ICOMOS experts demand redrafting of the Prague Metropolitan Plan.

The World Heritage Committee will assess the reaction of Czech and Prague authorities to the conclusions of the monitoring mission at its 44th session in China next June and July.

The report has expressed regret that the Czech state reacted neither to concerns, recommendations and requests related to a number of big development projects in Prague nor to the call for setting limits to high-rise construction in order to protect the skyline of the historic centre.

The monitoring mission worked out a series of measures, approved by the World Heritage Committee, in close cooperation with Czech authorities already in 2010.

The monitoring report said planned high-rise buildings at the Pankrac plain would damage the skylines. It points out that UNESCO recommended ten years ago that the maximum height of the buildings be 60 or 70 metres, but that the V Tower skyscraper completed last year is 104 metres high.

The report also says the Drn building in the city centre is two floors higher than it should have been and disturbs the historic roof landscape. It warns that this might be a dangerous precedential case.

The report calls on the Czech Republic to stop the construction of the Kavci hory residential district project. On the contrary, it praises the Smichov City project and its integration into the historic structure of the city. It also appreciated the reconstruction of the National Museum.

There are more than 50 sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger, but they include only three European sites – Vienna, Liverpool and medieval monasteries and churches in Kosovo. The historic centre of Vienna was inscribed on this list in 2017.

Several dozen sites were deleted from the World Heritage List. The Dresden Elbe Valley was removed from the list in 2007 due to the building of a four-lane bridge in the heart of the cultural landscape.

Zaoralek refused to compare the situation in Prague with the developments in Dresden. “Nothing similar to what happened in Dresden is to take place. They had a referendum in Dresden and voted for the bridge, and UNESCO respected that the city decided to take a different path. Such a situation is not in Prague. We in Prague want to reach an agreement,” he said.

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