did not conform to the reasons for inscription identified by the World Heritage Committee an achievement of medieval Georgian architecture, in half-ruined condition.
The mission recalled that the 2004 ICOMOS mission stated that “We gained the impression however that the determination to rebuild is so great that it may take place despite the risk of the building being removed from the World Heritage List as a result” and added that “We are of the opinion that ICOMOS and the World Heritage Committee should make use of every form of persuasion to avoid rebuilding.”
The mission also presented to the State Party the document produced by ICOMOS in February 2010 analyzing the proposed reconstruction project for Bagrati Cathedral. Reflecting efforts to build consensus among the ICOMOS professional community, the document provides an in-depth consideration of all factors important in evaluating the reconstruction proposition and should be seen as the definitive assessment of this project within a conservation perspective.
The ICOMOS document presents the following brief conclusions:
What is being proposed could be seen as a repeat of the “Evans case” in Crete Island, Greece one century later. It is not wise to repeat the faults of the past.
The proposed reconstruction project aims to give back to the ruin of Bagrati Cathedral its authentic function as a cathedral and to create a new national symbol through the reconstruction. However, this will destroy much of its existing authentic substance as well as the authentic craftsmanship present in the ruin. This process will also destroy the authentic spirit and the “breath of history”, which future visitors will no longer be able to experience. Therefore, the project must be rejected on the grounds of being a severe threat to the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property and its authenticity.
ICOMOS considers that it should be possible to improve the present project in order to preserve the authenticity of the ruin while at the same time allowing it to be used as a church.
The mission expressed strong opposition to the reconstruction, which does not follow scientific methodologies for stone conservation, or the philosophy of the international conservation. The mission also expressed doubts about the “exceptional circumstances” justifying the reconstruction. While there seems to be a popular and political desire for this reconstruction, the building became a ruin many centuries ago and has already taken on a life and a history after its ruin.
The mission also noted that the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Protection has expressed its reservations regarding the reconstruction project.
Concerning Gelati Monastery, the mission noted that the master plan which was presented to the mission gives adequate answers to problems relating to the future needs of the monastic community, and of the visitors to the monastic complex. There is a proper organization of the functions inside the monastery grounds, taking into consideration the fact that the property is a living monument. There is, also, provision in case of a rising number of the monks, for them to be established in a nearby place, outside of the monastery grounds. The master plan very successfully dissociates the visitors’ facilities from the monks’ life, proposing that the new visitors’ buildings be erected outside the monastery grounds, while the visitors would follow an organized route inside the monastic complex.
The mission underlined that it is absolutely necessary to elaborate and implement the management plan of all components of the property, including a complex programme for the
State of conservation of World Heritage properties inscribed on the World Heritage List
WHC-10/34.COM/7B.Add, p. 151