OWHC Regional Secretariat for Euro-Asia
The resolution on establishment of Euro-Asia Regional Section of OWHC was adopted at the session of OWHC Administrative Council in the city of Toledo (Spain) on April 07, 2003 on the basis of the written applications of Eurasian cities. The cities of Safranbolu and Istanbul were the first to support this initiative.
The headquarters of Regional Secretariat for Euro-Asia is located in Kazan (Russia).
The first international conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities that laid the foundations for an alliance of Eurasian cities took place in Kazan in June, 2004 and gathered over 500 participants from 22 countries of Eurasia.
Subsequently, OWHC Eurasian Conferences were held in Safranbolu, Turkey (2005);
Lijiang, China (2006); Surakarta, Indonesia (October 2008); Istanbul, Turkey (October 2011); Kazan (July 2012) and Aktau, Republic of Kazakhstan (August 2014).
In 2007 Kazan (Russia) having won the competition for holding the IX OWHC World Congress became the first Euro-Asia city to host this world event. A record-breaking number of participants, i.e. 1330 from 196 cities of 70 countries in the world, took part in it.
In 2008 the Conference in Indonesia gathered about 450 participants from 37 countries of the world. For the first time the theme of the Eurasia World Heritage Cities Conference was the preservation of intangible heritage. In particular, the participants discussed how the intangible heritage can contribute to the development of tourism, economy anв sustainable development of cities.
All of the participants were astonished by the intangible heritage carnival that represented a grand theatrical demonstration along the main street of Surakarta. The participants of the parade were the guests of the Conference dressed in national clothes as well as artists in the costumes of Indonesia epic poetry heroes. The event was aimed at showing the potential of intangible heritage of Surakarta and other cities. Mayor of Surakarta Mr.Joko Widodo (since 2014 President of Indonesia) personally led the carnival. The participants got acquainted with culture and traditions of Indonesia, reflected in music, clothes and theatrical rituals.
The 5th International Conference took place in Istanbul (Turkey) on October 27-29, 2011 and was dedicated to the heritage of future generations. This topic was for the first time discussed at the global level and considered a city as a unique historical value regardless of antiquity and recognition of cultural and historical sites contained in it. The Conference encouraged participants to pay attention to the contemporary culture and architecture and to percept it as future heritage. Cities should overcome the “sameness” and have their own unique image distinct from other cities.
The 6th International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities on “Heritage and Innovations” took place on July 05-08, 2012 in Kazan (Russia). The Conference was held at the highest level. Mayors, representatives of local and regional governments, as well as leaders of international organizations and leading experts took part in the work of the Conference. Overall there were 160 participants from 80 cities of 11 countries in the world.
The theme of the Forum “Heritage and Innovations” was of unique nature as it was dedicated both to the past and the future, as well as to the heritage preservation and innovations. During the Forum the following issues were discussed: innovations in public services provision; the role of cultural and historical heritage in increasing of recognition of the city; increase of the international recognition of Eurasian cities’ heritage; increase of tourist attractiveness of Eurasian cities and cultural tourism development.
During the Forum there were held plenary sessions and 4 workshops, at which the participants of the Forum got acquainted with the activities of the city of Kazan related to preservation of World Heritage sites and other cultural, historical and architectural monuments that are of great value at the national and regional levels. The guests of the Forum visited Kazan Kremlin added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, Sviyazhsk claiming to be included to the list of UNESCO heritage, as well as historical city Bolgar that 2 years after the Conference, i.e. in 2014, was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage.
The exhibition “Eurasian section of OWHC – 10 years together”, where the photo report on the work done during 10 years of functioning of the Section was presented, aroused great interest.
As a result of rich program of the Forum its participants worked effectively and gained lots of pleasant impressions and noted warm hospitability of the city of Kazan. The highest level of organization of the event was generally acknowledged.
In the first half of 2014 the Euro-Asia regional section of OWHC implemented the first stage of the project “Eurasia Heritage”. The gist of the project consists in drawing the images of heritage sites of one city on facades of houses of other cities. As a result of the project implementation the image of Derbent (Dagestan, Russia) was drawn on one of the buildings of Safranbolu (Turkey) and the view of historical center of Safranbolu was drawn on one of the buildings of Derbent.
In June 2014 the city of Bolgar (Russia) of Euro-Asia region of OWHC was added to the list of OWHC World Heritage. Aktau (Kazakhstan) also joined the OWHC activities as a member-observer.
The 7th International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities on “Protection and Use of Historical and Cultural Heritage in Eurasia Region” took place in Aktau (Republic of Kazakhstan) on August 24-27, 2014.
Over 275 people from 41 cities of 10 countries of the world took part in the Conference. Participants visited holy places such as Koshkar Ata, Kalipan necropolises, Shakpak Ata Mosque carved in the cliff near the cape. The participants of the excursion were told about other shrines and natural heritage sites located within the territory of the region.
An ethnic village was especially created for the Conference. White yurts (a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads), Altybakan seesaw, folklore, national games and colorful costumes introduced participants to the way of life of Kazakh people. Having put on the rich national costumes presented as a gift by Aktau Administration, participants started to assemble the yurt. Having gathered under a shanyrak (an arched cross-shaped top of the Kazakh yurt) the delegates fixed the poles to the foundation of the dwelling of nomadic people.
An unprecedented event took place during the Conference – a stele dedicated to the 7th International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities was built on the embankment of the Caspian Sea.
“During 20 years of the work of the Organization of World Heritage Cities we have held a great number of conferences in different cities of the world. However there was no city where the sculptures were established on the occasion of the international conferences. We welcome and support this initiative. Aktau has already become a part of the OWHC history”, said OWHC Secretary General Mr. Denis Ricard.
According to Mayor of the city of Aktau Edil Zhanbyrshin, the basis of the stele was an ancient stone with the image of a human face – balbaltas: “The whole territory from Altay to Europe is scattered with balbaltases, ancient stones with images of a human face. Such stone was taken as a basis for our logo. A camel is also depicted on the logo. This animal has already been included into the World Heritage of UNESCO. It is a symbol of nomads, a symbol of Kazakh people”, said the Mayor.