ICOMOS expresses concern about the protection of architectural heritage in Sozopol


Source: ИКОМОС е обезпокоен за опазването на архитектурата в Созопол

Translation by Madlen Nikolova

Citizens have sent a letter to the Bulgarian National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites(ICOMOS). In the letter they have asked about the current state of the archaeological and architectural heritage of Sozopol. Experts in the Bulgarian branch of ICOMOS have found rather disturbing problems during their fieldwork in the city. The situation of the protection of authentic local heritage is troubling. The norms and principles, that guide the work of ICOMOS, are breached in the following sites

·      Late ancient and medieval fortress wall

·      The Revival church of “Saints Cyril and Methodius”

·      Ancient necropolis of Apolonia nar Kalafata

·      Medieval church complex near Budzhaka ( Sulinaria)

·      Medieval monastery “St. Ivan” on the “St Ivan” island

·      Medieval church near Skamni

·      Medieval church near “St. Georgi” church in the center of the historical part of the town.

Тhe infringements can be grouped in the following four major categories:

1. Substitution of architectural authenticity via rebuilding from scratch. This is violation of the Venice Charter (preamble, article 6, 9, 12 and 13), the Nara Document on Authenticity (article 3, 10, Appendix I, article 1 and 2) and the International Cultural Tourism Charter (article 2.4 and article 6.2)
Examples: The fortress wall, the church “Saint Cyril and Methodius”, the church next to “St. Georgi” church, as well as the new projects near “Sveti Ivan Monastery” and Skamni.

2. The context of the monuments is also substituted, the original environment is being substantially changed and integrated within contemporary structures. This violates with Venice Charter (article 7) and The Charter for the Preservation and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (article 6).

Examples: architectural details from the monastery on “Sveti Ivan” island are integrated in the walls of the estate on “Milev” str. number 50.
3. A disproportionate focus on certain monuments (fortress wall) at the expense of others. What this creates is that some sites are being converted to landfills (e.g. the Ancient necropolis and the complex in the Budzhaka region).  This contradicts the Charter for the Preservation of the Archaeological Heritage (article 6) as well as the national legislation.

4. The seacoast is being destroyed by:

·      construction of concrete platforms on the shores beneath the Fortress wall;

·      stones from the beaches are being used in the reconstruction of the Fortress wall;

·      sand from the beaches is used in the reconstruction of the Fortress wall and in some of the infrastructural projects.

This contradicts the International Cultural Tourism Charter (article 1.3), according to which all programs for cultural tourism have to be subjected to the principle of the long-term preservation of both the cultural and the natural heritage, respecting its ecological features.

The conclusion of the National Committee in ICOMOS is that in Sozopol there are severe legal violations that lead to the substitution of the authenticity of the cultural heritage and lead to defacement of the cultural landscape of the town. Due to the fact of their concern, they have sent two letters to the Ministry of Culture, to the director of the National Institute for Immovable Cultural Heritage and other relevant institutions. They have been informed about the listed issues.

What this campaign aims is to prevent the worst effects of the mismanagement of the cultural heritage of the town, as well as to prevent the future repetition of identical mistakes. Moreover, a hope has been expressed that these concerns will be taken into account and the the rules will be followed better in the sites that are still being renovated.