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Cologne Cathedral Listed as World Heritage in Danger

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee decided here Monday to list Cologne Cathedral, one of Germany's 30 world heritage sites, as a World Heritage in Danger.

When reviewing the conservation situation of global heritage sites Monday at the committee's ongoing 28th session, many members of the committee said they were deeply concerned about the planned high-rise building projects in the city of Cologne, which would considerably change the urban scale of the whole city center and destroy the spatial quality of the Cologne Cathedral as a world heritage property, sources with UNESCO told Xinhua.

Construction of the Gothic masterpiece began in 1248 and was not completed until 1880. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1996, with outstanding universal value and exceptional human creativity.

Concerned with the building plans of the city of Cologne, the World Heritage Committee requested Germany last year to define a buffer zone around the cathedral and reconsider its plan of urban development to avoid adverse effects on the visual integrity of the cathedral.

However, so far the local authorities of Cologne have been firmly attached to the high-rise constructions and unwilling to modify the plan, the sources said.

"Heritage preservation sometimes might contradict modern landscaping," said a Dutch expert when asked to comment on the issue outside the meeting hall. "If the Cologne Cathedral was buried among surrounding high-rise buildings, it's outstanding cultural value could no longer exist," a delegate from Lebanon said.

According to Francesco Bandarin, director of the World Heritage Center, or the committee's executive body, an international discussion on modern impact on heritage sites is scheduled to be held in May 2005 in Vienna, Austria.
(Xinhua News Agency July 6, 2004)


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