Cultural Heritage

© Alessio Romenzi / UNESCO Photo Archive, 2010
Emergency protection at Tell Umm Amer in Gaza

Cultural Heritage constitutes the core of activities, projects and programmes of the Culture Unit of the UNESCO Office in Ramallah. The portfolio of projects includes conservation, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of historic buildings, conservation and management plans for historic towns and villages as well as cultural landscapes. The rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the Khan al Wakala in Nablus, the elaboration of master plans for the archaeological parks of Hisham’s Palace in Jericho (including the concept design of the protective shelters of the mosaics of the Great Bath Hall by world-renowned architect Peter Zumthor) and the ongoing project of safeguarding from further deterioration and management of Tell Balata archeological park in Nablus and make the park visitor-friendly ,, the emergency conservation activities of Tell Umm Amer/Saint Hilarion Monastery in the Gaza Strip, the Conservation and Management Plan of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour including the development and endorsement of the Bethlehem Charter, the Integrated Plan for the safeguarding of Sabastiya and the Landscape Protection Plan of Battir are examples of interventions aimed at the holistic preservation of Palestinian Cultural Heritage. The Battir Landscape Plan was awarded the Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes in May 2011. In 2009, UNESCO Ramallah Office commissioned a photographic research on Palestinian cultural landscapes to the Italian photographer Federico Busonero. Before travelling throughout the West Bank and Gaza, the exhibition The Land That Remains was on display at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in February 2010.

On 30 April 2012 UNESCO signed an important agreement with the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Cooperation Development Agency (Sida) to implement the project “Local Development through the Rehabilitation and Revitalization of the Historic Built Environment in Palestine” which aims at safeguarding cultural heritage in Palestinian cities and localities as a means for local development. The project is implemented through partnerships with Palestinian Civil Society Organizations specialized in cultural heritage preservation which are: Riwaq, Centre for Architectural Conservation, the Centre for Cultural Heritage Preservation (CCHP), the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) and the Old City of Jerusalem Revitalization Programme (OCJRP).

The project mainly targets renovation of historic buildings and sites in historic centers for public use while building local capacities in cultural heritage preservation. It contributes to enhancing conservation skills and knowledge of architects and workers (with emphasis on young professionals), promoting cultural tourism, raising public awareness on the values of cultural heritage and highlighting the socioeconomic aspect of cultural heritage preservation through generating job opportunities as well as providing facilities for public use

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