Should UNESCO fund the conservation of Dubrovnik

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Should UNESCO fund the conservation of Dubrovnik

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Should UNESCO fund the conservation of Dubrovnik

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Feb 06, 2003 4:37 pm

After being heavily shelled during the 1990s conflict that split the former Yugoslavia, Croatia's historic Adriatic town of Dubrovnik is under threat again - this time by the decay of its cultural heritage.

Croatian historians and students have taken up the cause to save their town, urging the UN to come to the rescue of its rotten palaces, ports and cathedrals. The threat was underlined last month when a large storm caused extensive damage to the town's old port.

One of the oldest pillars in the city, dating back to 15th Century, is cracking up from corrosion. Historians, supported by hundreds of students across the country, accuse both the Croatian Government and local authorities of doing too little to safeguard the city's heritage.

They say their appeal to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is Dubrovnik's only chance of survival. During the war, Unesco urged the Yugoslav authorities to stop the shelling of the town. The UN's International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague later included the destruction of historic monuments in its 16-count indictment relating to attacks on Dubrovnik. The problem now is partly the result of political wrangling, the historians say, which results in neglect.

Dubrovnik became an important Mediterranean sea power in the 13th Century. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, it managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.

One of Croatia's main sources of income is tourism, in which Dubrovnik, with its famous historic white-stone architecture, plays a key role. But decay and erosion could jeopardise Dubrovnik's reputation as first-class tourist destination and - experts say - even its place on Unesco's list of World Heritage Sites.
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Paul Clerkin
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