In 1983 UNESCO launched an international campaign for the safeguarding of the historic quarters of Istanbul and the Göreme valley in Cappadocia. Istanbul is strategically located between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and has been associated with major political, religious and artistic events for more than 2,000 years. Its architectural masterpieces were under threat from population pressure, industrial pollution and uncontrolled urbanization.


The Göreme valley in western Turkey is famous for its spectacular landscape entirely sculpted by erosion and its rock-hewn sanctuaries providing unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. Dwellings, troglodyte villages and underground towns – the remains of a traditional human habitat dating back to the fourth century – can also be seen there.

UNESCO minted the medal in 1984 from a design by Turkish artist Handan Borutegene. The obverse features the Suleimaniye mosque in Istanbul. The reverse shows a view of Göreme’s uniquely-shaped rock outcrops underneath a Virgin and Child from one of the churches hewn out of the living rock. Istanbul and Göreme were added to the World Heritage List in 1985.

Available in gold, silver and bronze

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