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Cultural Bridge

Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is the historical artifacts/values that have survived from past generations and are preserved and transferred for the benefit of future generations, have universal values, and meet certain conditions (such as witnessing tradition, being the product of creative human genius, representing one or more periods of human history). Cultural heritage includes Tangible Culture, Intangible Culture and Natural Heritage. By its very meaning, cultural heritage reminds societies and their members of a common past, strengthens unity and solidarity and ensures the continuity of traditions and diversity.

Tangible Cultural Heritage: It is divided into two groups as portable and immovable heritage. Monuments, sculptures, archaeological artifacts, paintings, landscapes, inscriptions, etc.

Abstract Cultural Heritage: Folklore, traditions, language, oral history, etc.

Natural Heritage: Culturally significant landscapes and biodiversity.

How is cultural conservation done?

Some of the processes and disciplines involved in the conservation and protection of tangible culture are as follows: 

  • Archival science
  • Museology
  • Restoration and conservation
  • Artistic, archaeological and architectural conservation
  • Preservation of folklore records
  • Preservation and digitalization of the film
  • Digital protection

Some of the processes carried out for the preservation of abstract culture are:

  • Language preservation
  • Oral history
  • Traditions
  • Folklore

Among the actions taken for natural heritage, the protection of biodiversity (plants, animals, endemic species, ancestral seeds, etc.) is particularly important.

Why should cultural heritage be protected?

When we look at the first regulations on the protection of cultural property in the international arena, it is seen that they are related to the damage to cultural property in war and armed conflict. The regulations of the Hague Convention No. 4 of 1907 on the law of war, customary rules and customs prohibit attacks on buildings used for religious, educational, artistic, scientific or charitable purposes, historical monuments and hospitals. According to this regulation, the purpose of protecting cultural heritage and other places of civil character, such as schools or hospitals, is similar. However, given the developments in the field of cultural heritage after 1950, the understanding that cultural heritage should be protected not only because of its artistic or scientific value, but also because it is the “common heritage of mankind”. In the preamble of the Hague Convention (UNESCO, 1954), which regulates the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, it is stated that “Since every nation has contributed something of itself to the world culture, any encroachment on the cultural heritage of any nation shall be deemed to be an encroachment on the cultural heritage of all mankind”. The preamble to the World Heritage Convention recognizes that “the deterioration or destruction of any part of the cultural and natural heritage constitutes a detrimental impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world”, that “parts of the cultural and natural heritage are of exceptional importance and should therefore be preserved as part of the world heritage of all mankind” and that “participation in the protection of the cultural and natural heritage is the duty of the entire international community”. The Council of Europe also adopts a common heritage approach in its documents on culture and cultural heritage. The 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity recognizes cultural heritage as a source of creativity and states that “cultural heritage in all its forms must be preserved, enriched and expanded, and handed down to future generations as a record of human experience and aspirations, so that creativity in all its diversity may be stimulated and an effective dialogue between cultures may be felt”.

The protection of cultural heritage is of the same level of importance as other important shared values, such as environmental protection or human rights.

The 2003 UNESCO Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage explains that intangible cultural heritage, passed down from generation to generation, “is continuously recreated by communities and groups in their interaction with their environment, nature and history, giving them a sense of identity and continuity, thus contributing to respect for cultural diversity and human creativity”. On the other hand, the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro Convention), which the Council of Europe incorporated into its legislation in 2005, defines cultural heritage as “both a resource for human development, enhancing cultural diversity and promoting intercultural dialogue, and part of a model of economic development based on the principle of sustainable use of resources”. The Faro Convention also considers cultural heritage within the scope of human rights and interprets it as an individual right. According to the Convention, everyone has the right to enjoy and contribute to the enrichment of cultural heritage (Article 4) and this right is inherent in the “right to participate in cultural life” defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consequently, the function of cultural heritage has changed over time, and it has evolved from being merely an asset of historical and artistic value subject to scientific study to an element that constitutes the cultural identity of communities and individuals. In short, the protection of cultural heritage as a common value is of the same importance as other important common values such as environmental protection or human rights.

Kosovo on the UNESCO World Heritage List

The “Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” was adopted on 16 November 1972 within the framework of the 17th General Conference of UNESCO, which met in Paris between 17 October – 21 November 1972, in order to introduce the cultural and natural assets with universal values, which are accepted as the common heritage of mankind, to create awareness in the society to protect the universal heritage in question and to provide the necessary cooperation for the survival of cultural and natural values that are destroyed and destroyed due to various reasons. The Convention was ratified by the Council of Ministers on 23.05.1982 and published in the Official Gazette on 14.02.1983.

Natural structures, monuments and sites of international importance and therefore worthy of appreciation and protection are recognized as “World Heritage”. After a series of procedures that begin with the application to UNESCO by the member states that have ratified the Convention and are completed after the evaluation of the applications by the experts of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), candidate assets are entitled to this status in accordance with the decision of the World Heritage Committee.

As of 2021, there are 1154 cultural and natural assets registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List worldwide, of which 897 are cultural, 218 are natural and 39 are cultural and natural assets. This number is increasing with the World Heritage Committee meetings held every year. Comprehensive information can be found on the official website of the World Heritage Centers at

Kosovo’s assets on the UNESCO World Heritage List are as follows.

Medieval Monuments in Kosovo: Deçan Monastery, Peja Patriarchate, Graçaniça Monastery and the Church of the Virgin Mary in Prizren – (Friday Mosque)

List of Cultural Heritage Properties for Permanent Protection

On 10.10.2016, the Kosovo Cultural Heritage Council approved the List of Cultural Heritage Properties for Permanent Protection, prepared as a result of the consideration of proposals for granting cultural heritage status to certain properties.

The 23 cultural heritage assets included in this approved list are as follows:

1. Church of St. Friday (Levisha Church)

2. Dechan Monastery

3. Graqanica Monastery

4. Silk Pakrikhanesi

5. King Mosque

6. Residential building (former Academy of Science and Arts)

7. Residential building (IMMK)

8. Ethnological Museum Residential Complex (Emin Gjiku)

9. Hadım Aga Mosque Complex

10. Haci Zekë Tower (Yasar Pasha’s Albanian Tower)

11. Sinan Pasha Mosque

12. Hydroelectric Power Plant-Electroeconomy Museum

13. Gazi Mehmet Pasha Hamam

14. Church and Primary School in Albanian language

15. Old Castle

16. Harilaq Fort

17. Municipium Ulpiana-Justinia Secunda

18. “Town” Archaeological Site

19. Prizren Castle

20. “Great Plain and Mound” Archaeological Site

21. Veletin – fortified city in Shashkoc

22. Ruins of Korisha Fortress

23. Late Antiquity Fortress at Keqekolla

Legal Boundaries of Cultural Heritage in Kosovo

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, “ensuring the preservation and protection of cultural and religious heritage” belongs to the institutions in Kosovo. Furthermore, with the approval of the National Cultural Heritage Strategy 2017-2027 in December 2016, the government presented a strategic document for the protection, preservation and promotion of cultural heritage. This strategy has a broad and comprehensive approach to cultural heritage, linking it with the UN’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as taking into account the European Union’s recommendations on the assessment of risk factors for cultural heritage, thereby aligning with UNESCO’s approach.

Through the implementation of this work, the necessary standards for modern heritage management of institutions in Kosovo will be ensured. In this way, this strategy represents the first comprehensive policy document prepared through an extensive consultation process, in line with leading international standards, and serves as a building block for cultural heritage institutions. The strategy, which incorporates relevant international standards and good practices, also envisages the recognition of the rights and privileges granted to the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo.

It also defines cultural heritage as an absolute pillar of sustainable development and envisages its implementation on the basis of five main goals.

National Cultural Heritage Strategy 2017 – 2027

• Objective 1: Improving the legal and institutional framework
• Objective 2: Integrated approach of cultural heritage towards sustainable development
• Objective 3: Inclusion of cultural heritage in development plans
• Objective 4: Promotion of cultural heritage
• Objective 5: Education, training and active participation in the protection of cultural heritage