Chersonese added to UNESCO World Heritage List due to EU support

On September 20, Tauric Chersonese was officially certified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient city was granted this status on June 23, 2013 during the 37th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Cambodia.

IMG_5696Chersonese joins the ranks of 1000 sites selected by UNESCO due to their extreme cultural value and is the seventh such site chosen in Ukraine.

The ancient colony of Chersonese, which was founded by the Dorians, retains traces of the Greek colonisation era as well as the Roman and Byzantine empires. Its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list is expected to promote cultural tourism and increase the Ukrainian government’s commitment to the protection of monuments.

Greek soldiers and medieval knights ended the Committee’s solemn ceremony with a theatrical performance, and “Ukrposhta” presented a special “Tauric Chersonese” thematic stamp especially for the occasion. The official ceremony in Chersoneses included guests like Jose Roman Leon Lora, head of sustainable development section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, and Enzo Damiani, coordinator of the joint EU initiatives in Crimea and Sevastopol.

IMG_5915The fact that Chersonese has been included on the World Heritage list means not only that Chersonese now appears on the world map of cultural heritage and related tourism, but it is also a key factor in improving the overall governance of cultural heritage in Ukraine and in Crimea,” noted Jose Roman Leon Lora. “This nomination, actively supported by the EU, is now both an honour and a challenge for the Ukrainian authorities,” he said.

The ‘Tauric Chersonese’ site was included on the provisional list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1989. Its change of status was preceded by extensive campaigning by a local team of experts and several EU projects. It took more than two decades for the city to be fully included on the UNESCO list. The EU-funded projects, “Identification Study for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage in Crimea, Ukraine” and “Crimean Tourism Support and Diversification Project,” helped to advise local experts on all aspects of preparing the Chersonese for World Heritage Site nomination. The projects also contributed to completing the Chersonese nomination dossier and preparing the management plan required for successful application to UNESCO.

Jose Roman Leon Lora, head of sustainable development section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine
Jose Roman Leon Lora, head of sustainable development section of the EU Delegation to Ukraine

The EU has been actively supporting the protection of cultural heritage in Crimea since 2011. Even after the successful induction of Chersonese into the World Heritage Site list, it will continue to support the site. Following the recommendations of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), preparatory work is now being undertaken for the future expansion of the site by adding significant portions of the chora of Tauric Chersonese on the Tarkhankut peninsula. Furthermore, Chersonese’s link to the Greek ruins at Pantikapaion (Kerč) still has to be examined in more detail.

The EU will also continue supporting the nomination dossier for another proposed site: the historic Crimean Khans’ capital in Bakchysarai, which includes the Khans’ Palace. According to the road map EU experts have prepared, there is still substantial work to be done around this site, but they anticipate the nomination may be examined at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in mid-2015.