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Reconstructing the Sacred: The Controversial Process of Bagrati Cathedral’s Full-scale Restoration and Its World Heritage Delisting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2020

Tamar Meladze
Affiliation:
PhD Candidate, World Cultural Heritage Studies, University of Tsukuba, Japan; Email: tmeladze@me.com
Yasufumi Uekita
Affiliation:
Professor, Faculty of Art and Design, University of Tsukuba, Japan; Email: uekita.yasufumi.fb@u.tsukuba.ac.jp

Abstract

This article unfolds around the controversial case of Georgia’s eleventh-century Bagrati Cathedral, which represents the only site to be removed from the World Heritage List as a result of its full-scale reconstruction. After its destruction in armed conflict by the end of the seventeenth century, the first conservation-restoration works on the monument were carried out in the 1950s. In 1994, partially reconstructed but still without a roof, Bagrati Cathedral had no issues in meeting the conditions of authenticity when the nomination was made for inscription in the World Heritage List. The conflict arose further when the conservation experts did not endorse the state party’s intention to fully rebuild the cathedral, notwithstanding the fact it was stated to be crucial for its functional continuity. The International Council on Monuments and Sites and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization took the view that this scale intervention would compromise the cathedral’s outstanding universal value and authenticity. This article offers a closer look at the decision-making process, from the nomination to the delisting of Bagrati Cathedral, and analyzes the factors contributing to the conflicting interpretations of the monument’s fundamental values among stakeholders. It addresses the issues from a broader perspective to include the historical-cultural background of Georgia and local approaches to preserving the religious sites, which tend to be overlooked in the discourse.

Type
Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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References

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