Reconstruction in Gjirokaster risk UNESCO expelling

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 22, 2019 12:48

Reconstruction in Gjirokaster risk UNESCO expelling

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  • New reconstructions at museal parts of the historic city of Gjirokaster have been called out to harm the historical and cultural values. Critic Sadi Petrela has went so far as to warn that this would impact the expulsion of Gjirokaster from UNESCO.

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TIRANA, March 19- The “Neck of Bazaar” which is the museal complex in Gjirokaster for its historical and cultural values, is undergoing a full rehabilitation. But removing the pavement has brought some negative feedback from cultural heritage specialists who have been demanding no damage, as this would impact on an expulsion from UNESCO.

The Minister of Culture Elva Margariti retaliated that the forgotten splendor to this bazaar with the rehabilitation of facades and roofs has been returned, as a second phase of the project is being initiated. These interventions are necessary as today we have a growing tourism development and Gjirokaster is central to the government’s investments in this sector.

“3.5 million dollars worth of investment, over 5000 square meters of restoration, and revalued properties, returning Gjirokaster its splendor like never before together with our strategic partner AADF,” said Margariti.

67 guest houses are built so far in the historic city and the “Neck of Bazaar” is part of the investments being made in the framework of the project “Integrated Urban and Touristic Development in Albania” in the urban centers of Saranda, Gjirokastra, Berat and Permet, financed by the World Bank at the value of 63.8 million euros. The rehabilitation of the engineering infrastructure, the water supply network, electricity, the anti-fire network, the Lan network and the restoration of pavements and sidewalks are being carried out.

The cobblestone dismantling process has first started with its detailed documentation on the routes in which the interference is being carried out and the respective stones are stored according to the routes where it was dismantled. It is promised that no damages will happen. The cladding layers will be stored and after the completion of the infrastructure works after the completion of the infrastructure works, they will be restored.

The good news is that pieces of cobblestone that were thought to belong to earlier than the 1970s were discovered during the works. The Archeological Service Agency has been notified regarding all this information and the materials on these findings will be reviewed at the National Council of Archeology.

However, in the past years the interventions made by the institutions seem to be very scarce for the historic center of Gjirokaster. Cultural heritage specialists have repeatedly demanded not only emergency interventions when cultural monuments jeopardize, but also a sustained maintenance, and according to them, for years it was not at the right level.

The director of the "Gjirokastra" Foundation Sadi Petrela has also joined the responses of specialists regarding this case. No less critical of the interventions that the Ministry of Culture has done and continues to do, Petrela among others says that the historic center is risked to be expelled by UNESCO in case this situation continues.

One aspect is that some of the restorations are very controversial. Petrela said that it is not the case to say good or bad, because it goes into detail and technical arguments, but there is no kind of strategy and direction, there are no clear rules of play. There are examples of failures or incorrect restorations that indicate that there is much to see and in terms of the effectiveness of these investments with regard to the preservation of cultural heritage.

The second aspect is how effective these investments are to bring economic and social development on the basis of conservation restoration preservation. In fact, it is not thought much about the developmental aspect, we talk a lot about the folkloric asket, our heritage, etc., and how worthwhile it is, how worthwhile, and how much more development can be discussed a bit. Everything remains within the framework of the propaganda and framework of party politics of the day and the monuments that continue to be destroyed.

“Gjirokastra definitely is risked getting out of UNESCO and there  are two dangers. Lack of investment and wrong investment,” said Petrela.

He said that there are 500 illegal buildings in the historic center of Gjirokastra. There are 500 flats  in cultural monuments including the religious ones, and so is the number of illegal constructions. It risks Gjirokastra from mismanagement, illegal construction, lack of investment, lack of plans and projects.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 22, 2019 12:48