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Complete cities?

 
Author Solivagant
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 6 Apr 2009 03:17 | Edited by: Solivagant 
This claim about Bath has been made http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/apr/06/bath-heritage-architecture

"Only two cities on the planet are World Heritage sites. While it's true that parts of other cities have the cherished status, in just two cases does the designation apply to the whole place. One of them is Venice. The other is Bath."

Quite a claim!
My immediate reaction was to disbelieve that it was both "complete" and/or that there could be no other such cities on the List. And of course there is plenty of "wriggle room" in such a claim. For instance - what constitutes a "city" and what boundaries have to be inscribed for it to be a "complete" inscription"? But, looking at the map of Bath's inscribed area on the UNESCO Web site, it certainly looks "complete". http://whc.unesco.org/download.cfm?id_document=101450 . According to the Bath WHS Management Plan the site does indeed follow the municipal boundary of Bath as it was in 1987. This quote from that Plan is interesting in showing the rather vague basis on which sites got inscribed in early years :- "In 1987, when Bath was inscribed on the World Heritage List, the nomination papers did not specify a boundary for the proposed site, either on a map or by description.... There is an ambiguity in the nomination papers as to whether the proposed site was intended as the whole city, or the Conservation Area, which covers approximately two thirds of the city, though the inscription of the site as 'The City of Bath' is widely seen as an indication that it is the entire city that is inscribed." However the following comment about the use of this boundary is also of note :- "this has been the accepted de facto boundary ever since, though it has not been formally approved by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee"!! So what chance do we stand sometimes of knowing what is in and what is out of an inscription! Even when a sites says something is "in" it might not truly/officially be so.

Can anyone identify other inscribed cities which might make a similar claim to that made by Bath! A problem I guess is that most cities of any size will inevitably leave out their more modern parts so Edinburgh, with its inscribed Old and New Towns for instance, will be excluded. If we could find a 3rd we might even have a trivial "Connection" - as well as proving this claim, made on behalf of Bath, to be wrong!

The issue also raises interesting questions about the optimal "size" of inscribed areas. Bath was inscribed in 1987 - would they go for as big an inscribed area now knowing what we all know about the problems it might cause? As far as I can see no "buffer zones" were identified in those far off days and, in its review, ICOMOS were concerned about the apparently uninscribed Prior Park 1.5kms away from the centre so were not exactly pressing for a reduction in size - indeed the Management Plan shows that this Park, designed "with advice from Capability Brown" is now considered to be within the inscribed boundary. Perhaps a smaller core area concentrating on the Roman and main Georgian aspects with less restrictive rules for a surrounding area might have been a "less problematical" approach - but that depends on one's view of the merits of development! Perhaps, like Venice (and others?), some cities can't be divided into areas which are "less important" but stand (or fall) on their entirety? An argument might be that Bath is very much in a valley and that its suburbs tumble down on both sides - so anything untoward "up there" cannot be disassociated from the centre. Also the inscription "case" makes much of the organic whole, "garden city" aspect so it perhaps couldn't easily miss out the surrounding areas.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 6 Apr 2009 07:11 
Quite interesting.

I guess there would be a couple more, like you say especially the early entries to the list.

The one I thought of, is slightly a technicality however, Vatican City. Not only is the whole of the city inscribed but also the whole of the country is in the process.

Also just thought of Valletta, everything outside of the main walls would be Floriana. So I guess that the whole city would also be inscribed.

Like I said I guess there would probably be a fair few.

Just out of interest do you know if this is in today's printed guardian? Or is it just a web article?

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 6 Apr 2009 07:16 
Re your question Meltwaterfalls.
The following is copied from clicking "Article history" on the Web page link above
" About this article. Will Bath lose its World Heritage status, wonders Jonathan Glancey
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk at 00.01 BST on Monday 6 April 2009. It appeared in the Guardian on Monday 6 April 2009 on p19 of the Arts section. It was last updated at 09.47 BST on Monday 6 April 2009"

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 6 Apr 2009 07:26 
ah great thanks for that., should have paid more attention to the article history link.

I guess this was the article i got a google alert about this morning stating that Bath will be de-listed.

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