Inscription ceremony on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Today, a celebration ceremony was held on the inclusion of the city of Zagori in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Zagori is the 19th registration of a Greek monument on the UNESCO List and the first cultural property of Greece. Efforts to compile Zagori’s candidacy file began in 2014 with the Minister of Culture Konstantinos Tasoula and Secretary General Lina Mendoni. From 2015 to 2019, there was no progress. In September 2019, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis from Vitsa initiated the preparation of an application for the registration of Zagori through the Ministry of Culture. The official ceremony was supposed to be held yesterday in the presence of the prime minister. Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Vytsa yesterday, but the event was postponed due to heavy rain.

The inauguration of Zagori’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List was held on Sunday by the Speaker of the Parliament, Konstantinos Tasoulas, and the Minister of Culture, Linas Mendonis, in the presence of the Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center. , Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Regional Governor Epirus Alexandros Kahrimanis, Zagori Mayor Giorgos Soukovelos and many local residents.

Lina Mendoni, Minister of Culture, in her speech, touched on the history of efforts related to the successful completion of the registration of Zagori to the UNESCO World Heritage List and noted: “Yesterday, the Prime Minister wanted to seal the successful first step of the registration of Zagori to the UNESCO World Heritage List with his participation here. That’s what we’re celebrating today. In September 2019, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chose this square in Vitsa in the center of Zagori that his government, through the Ministry of Culture, will make every effort to tell all of you, the people of Zagori. Zagori will be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, the most demanding list of human culture. Zagori is the first cultural property registered as a cultural landscape of our country. Zagori is the first and newest monument of our country among 19 registered monuments. “Zagori is the most advanced spatial registration in Greece, as it covers 46 settlements and occupies the entire territory of the Municipality.”

The nomination file, compiled by the YPPO in collaboration with the Region of Epirus and the Municipality of Zagori, the product of the systematic work of a large multidisciplinary team, highlighted the special architectural physiognomy of the region as a result of human interaction. and the authenticity of nature, place and landscape.

As Lina Mendoni noted, “It took the help and efforts of dozens of people to register in Riyadh last September. The management staff of the Ministry of Culture cooperated closely, closely and methodically with the management staff and employees of the Region, the Municipality, and were in full compliance and communication with the Permanent Mission of Greece to UNESCO. We owe gratitude and rightful praise to dozens of people who worked hard to achieve a happy ending.”

Later, he spoke with the Minister of Culture about how to proceed with Zagori. “It would be a mistake to treat Zagori as a static monument. Zagori, above all, it is its people who must live here to preserve the element that UNESCO values ​​and includes Zagori: Its authenticity is not ensured by the museum approach of the residential area. Authenticity will be ensured from the moment that people will not only want to live in Zagori, but will also try to return to Zagori, work and live based on the principles and values ​​that created it. In addition to the absolute protection of the state, the state, the regional self-government, the local self-government, we all have an obligation to ensure forever to protect the special elements that Zagori has without harm. , prepare a strategic plan for sustainable development. But what is the main feature of sustainable development? At least to pass on what we get to the next generations. This. The strategic plan is the beginning of important work for Zagori. A lot of work is starting now and we all need to realize that. We must prepare a strategic plan that will ensure its sustainable development and, above all, we must implement it. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I think we are all there, we believe that we have no right not to succeed in preserving this hybrid of nature and man without harm.”

Date of compilation of the dossier and submission to UNESCO

The area of ​​Zagori includes excellent traditional architectural settlements connected by a unique network of cobbled roads and bridges, which are in very good condition. Settlements that include large or small mansions, churches decorated with rare frescoes, and schools attended by generations of Zagoris residents took their current special architectural form in the 18th and 19th centuries. The historical prosperity of the villages of Zagori was the result of the mobility of its inhabitants, who had an impressive natural environment almost untouched by the time, gaining economic power that allowed them to invest in their place by trading in the Balkans and Europe. with its forests, rich biodiversity, rivers, lakes and impressive geomorphological formations.

The project of introducing Zagori as a cultural landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage List was complex, because for the first time many different specialties, such as archaeologists, architects, historians, topographers, ecologists, had to cooperate in the preparation of the nomination file. , biologists, foresters. Despite communication difficulties related to the pandemic, it was possible to submit the dossier to the World Heritage Center on time, in January 2021.

This was followed by a lengthy evaluation of the file by UNESCO’s advisory bodies. The final decision on Zagori and the registration of the Zagori Cultural Landscape on the World Heritage List took place on September 19, 2023, in the framework of the 45th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Riyadh. The registration of Zagori is a great success for Greece. For the first time, a wonderful example of modern cultural heritage, cultural wealth resulting from the interaction of man and nature was recorded in the catalog.

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