- The City of Bardejov was registred on the World Heritage List in 2000. What has been the impact of this nomination for your city?
The historic center of Bardejov, along with a complex of buildings forming a Jewish suburbium was registred on the World Heritage List of UNESCO following the 24th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in the Australian city of Cairns (November 30, 2000). This registration confirmed the exceptional value of Bardejov and its need to be accessible; it's a manifestation of commonly accepted values by people around the world. Such recognition is an honor for Bardejov.
It is said that outstanding universal value and its associated attributes are, on one hand, a huge potential for the development of the city; it can support the creation of a prosperous environment - a cultural and an economic life - for the residents of the city and the visitors of the site. However, on the other hand, some opinions say that historical protected areas bring a number of limiting factors and constraints that may obstruct the further development of the city.
Based on the information that I have, which is made of objective and verifiable data, the impact of this nomination on Bardejov was very positive. It is reflected by an increased number of foreign and domestic visitors in recent years. A public opinion survey (July 2012) and another one on the opinions of owners and users of buildings on the World Heritage site (August 2012) just confirmed this observation.
- In your opinion, what is the vital role of a mayor when a city has been inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List?
Bardejov is in a legislative area well protected since the early '50s, when it was declared as town preservation reserve. It means that the total area of the site included in the World Heritage List as well as its protection zone is under a national legislation on the protection of monuments.
Bardejov has since 2002 a special law (No .176/2002) about the protection and development of the city's area. The purpose of this law is to create conditions for the implementation of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, especially regarding the protection of the urban central part of Bardejov, the preservation of existing architectural monuments, the monuments of historic art in their original natural environment and the restoration and revival of the medieval old town of Bardejov, while maintaining its originality and integrity. Also, accordingly to the Convention, the city of Bardejov takes care to ensure that any construction and/or economic activity in the defined area does not jeopardize the conservation of the nature of historical monuments inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. The Heritage site is also covered by other regulations, and specific measures. Construction activities are regulated by the zoning plan of the city of Bardejov; as for the area of protection for the cultural heritage, it is covered by the Principles of protection of historic sites. Finally, the city of Bardejov has also prepared a document about a program about its economic and social development. At the same time, Bardejov is also making efforts via its sustainable development strategy (Bardejov 2020 – Integrated program for sustainable urban development for the period 2012-2020).
Besides that, as the mayor of Bardejov, I'm following the Law on Municipalities, according to which the fundamental task of a city during the function of a government is to ensure an all-around development of its territory, to answer the needs of its residents and, among other things, to ensure the protection of cultural monuments.
To sum it up, I consider that the important role of the Mayor is to combine the activities aimed at the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage with the efforts to increase the attractiveness of the city to its residents, visitors and potential investors. Of course, the degree of preservation of historic buildings depends on financial possibilities. Equally important are the public relations with the citizens toward heritage.
These are the challenges of today. I admit that this task is extremely difficult.
- As a representative of the municipality, can you explain how do you stimulate your historic place? "Stimulate" means investing not only money, but also human resources, time, efforts...
- Specifically, what were your actions toward the protection and improvement of your Heritage?
- What are your concerns about the development and animation of your historic place?
- How do you determine that an investment into your historical site becomes greater value for your citizens? How can you show that investment in the field of heritage is actually an investment that covers a much wider area (that includes economics, public services...)? Do you have examples from your city?
The city of Bardejov is currently processing a document entitled Management of World Heritage site plan 2013 - 2017. This strategic document will be completed, including the negotiation and approval of government authorities in the city of Bardejov, in September 2013.
The purpose of this document is not only the fulfillment of the obligations arising from the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO and from the State responsibility for the protection of world heritage, but it is also about the processes which create the conditions for the preservation, the free use and the development of our World Heritage site. It shall provide a framework for an effective management that would preserve and maintain the outstanding universal value of our of World Heritage site untill 2017.
I consider as a major act that our city became last May a full member of the association "Slovak Heritage UNESCO", whose members are municipalities, towns and villages of Slovakia. The purpose of this association is to create the right conditions for coordinating purposeful activities of its members and partner organizations about the development and marketing of Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage.
Every year since 1993, Bardejov is organizing an international conference focusing on the area of conservation and restoration of historical wealth of towns and villages entitled "Problems of urban heritage centers". It is an inseparable part of the "Bardkontakt exposition". The purpose of this professional event in Slovakia is that the representatives of institutions and manufacturers of specialized building materials, together with experts from the field of historic preservation, architects and designers, are all sharing not only theoretical knowledge about the care of historic heritage, but also knowledge about its application in practical use. A few days ago, on August 20th to 21st 2013, this traditional event celebrated its 21st anniversary. Each year, the conference has a designated central theme, which is then divided into several other subthemes. For example, in 2013, the main theme of the conference was "Burghers house - restoration and protection"; in 2012, "Cultural Heritage and Society"; in 2011 "Greenery and water in the historic center of the city"; and in 2010, "Sacred Architecture - Conservation and restoration".
On the territory of Bardejov Town Conservation Reserve are 178 objects, 128 of which are registered in the Central list of monuments of the Slovak Republic. Within the possibilities of our own financial means, grant options at the national level as well as at the level of EU structural funds, Bardejov has implemented 19 projects in historic restoration for a total amount of 1,983,852.38 €. Two of these projects were related to the design of project documentation ("Development of project documentation for the reconstruction of fortifications and its involvement in the infrastructure of the town of Bardejov" and "Development of project documentation for the removal of moisture for the Town Hall in Bardejov"). The other 17 projects were specifically aimed at investment in the restoration and preservation national cultural heritage.
- In your opinion, what makes Bardejov such a special place?
The image of the city is an image of people who are living in it, following the path of their predecessors. The transmission of collective imaginary through generations of people from Bardejov has a particular importance. After all, the glorious history, the unique look of the city with its architecture that wrote the history of artistic creation in Slovakia, is for us an enormous gift. We care for the image of our city; we are trying not only to be responsible, but also to be sensitive at the shaping of the adjacent areas next to the historic center. We're trying to bring quality for our current residents and visitors. The level of preservation of historic buildings in the original urban structure determines Bardejov between the first cities in the evaluation of historical settlements in Slovakia from the point of view of preservation and integrity.
The impression and the "genius loci" of our historic city is unique and special. Bardejov, for now three consecutive years, is proudly holding the title of the most beautiful town in Slovakia.
Linking the past with the present; the conservation and the restoration of rare gems that our ancestors left; these are the basic topics of our current efforts to conserve and restore historic monuments in our city. Bardejov will always be particular, exceptional and unique since there were always and there will always be people that cares about it.
Hard work, skills and wisdom of our ancestors provoked appropriate respect and recognition during the period when there were no radios, TVs, phones or Internet. Our city acquired a significant position and a number of privileges; for example, in 1352, Bardejov acquired the right to organize a fair and this was not just a coincidence. On the contrary, it testifies an image of prosperity and of significant benefit of the town to its progress.
Bardejov as a thriving city with its advantageous geographical position became a part of major trade routes, which also contributed to its development. The past has left us unique attributes that were prepared and made by our ancestors.
Thanks to other generations, despite some difficult years and disasters, they managed to retain most of the authentic image of the medieval town. Surrounding us are famous and anonymus people remembered through our historic area either for their living in it or for their visit in it. They contributed to the writting of the exceptional history of Bardejov which represents a vast value to build on that can be used in the future.
A stroll through historic Bardejov is like browsing in the archive book that people wrote and are still writing. Let’s browse through it together; you are all welcome in Bardejov...