I. Introduction

The Management Plan of “The Ancient City of Nessebar” (as referred below as MP) was developed by the National Institute of Immovable Cultural Heritage (NIICH) in 2011, commissioned by the Municipality of Nessebar in accordance with the Cultural Heritage Act (CHA). It was designed for the Ancient City of Nessebar, nominated for World Heritage in 1982 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1983, as “The Ancient City of Nessebar” (as referred below as the property). The Management Plan considers entirely the present Ordinance for the Scope, Structure, Content and Methodology for Development of the Management Plans of Individual or Group Immovable Heritage Sites, Official Gazette, issue 19, 8th March 2011 (referred below as Ordinance). It is the first pilot project of that type in the Bulgarian practice.

The MP is developed in accordance with the decisions of the 34th (2010) and the 35th (2011) sessions of the World Heritage Committee, as well as the recommendations of the Reactive Monitoring Mission of UNESCO/ICOMOS (2010) regarding the conservation of the property and the necessity for development of Plan for its management. During the last years the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention from 1972 (referred below as the Guidelines) approved the Management Plan (or the Strategic Management Plan) as a necessary instrument for the World Heritage sites, that has to determine “how the Outstanding Universal Value of a property should be preserved” and to “incorporate traditional practices, existing urban or regional planning instruments, and other planning control mechanisms, both formal and informal”. In this sense, the Management Plan defines the strategic guidelines for conservation, use and management of the heritage site, which must be followed by the responsible central and local authorities. It is different from the operational instruments for conservation, use and management of lower levels (such as: protection regimes, conservation plans, spatial plans, etc.), which exist outside it and are regulated by the respective national legislations. The Management Plan must comply with them, to ensure their joint action and to propose their improvement. These characteristics correspond to the Bulgarian Ordinance’s requirements for the structure and content of the management plans of individual or group immovable heritage sites.

In the MP are reflected the following, occurred in the last decades exceptional evolutional changes in the present approach to the cultural heritage, its conservation, use and management:

  • The idea for the cultural heritage has been changed – both its content and its territorial and temporal scope have been expanded. More and more the heritage is considered as factor for sustainable development, able to enhance the quality of living and the well-being of the population, especially through the mechanisms of cultural tourism.

  • The methods and instruments for conservation and sustainable use of the heritage are being improved – key role is given to the integrated conservation providing the balance between conservation and development; key importance attain the modern instruments – managements plans, spatial plans, and conservation plans. Grows up the role of the context of the heritage site as an important component of its territorial protection through protection/buffer zones around it.

  • The forms and systems for management of the heritage sites are being developed – more and more it is considered as a collective process with a large number of participants – partners, encouraged by the reasonable balance between stimuli and restrictions; an important role is given to the local population, especially when the site is a living historic town. Regarding the above, tendencies for de-concentration and decentralisation of the management systems are recognised, and new, non-traditional forms of financing are coming forward.

The MP fully complies with the indicated trends for approach to cultural heritage. As far as “The Ancient City of Nessebar” is a living and dynamic historic town, for the needs of the Plan it is of particular use to take into account the evolution of the approach to the historic town in the last decades, outlined by the following key international documents:

  • Recommendations Concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas (UNESCO, 1976);

  • International Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Urban Areas – Washington Charter (ICOMOS, 1987);

  • The Valletta Principles for Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns and Urban Areas (ICOMOS, 2011);

  • Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, including a glossary of definitions (UNESCO, 2011), further – Recommendation of UNESCO.

The documents mark the growing role of the integrated approach to the heritage in the historic town, which is considered not a mechanical sum of heritage sites, but a complex system of historically formed interactions connected with the overall natural, geographical, social and economic context. There is consolidation of the belief, that the effective conservation, use and management of the living historic town is possible only if it is regarded namely in this light.

Among the cited documents, of particular relevance for the MP of “The Ancient City of Nessebar” is the Recommendation of UNESCO from 2011, which synthesizes the essence of the indicated trends. It considers the historic town as a “historic urban landscape” – ‘result of a historic layering of cultural and natural values and attributes, extending beyond the notion of “historic centre” or “ensemble” to include the broader urban context and its geographical setting’. Its contribution is that it provides a basis for ‘comprehensive and integrated approach for the identification, assessment, conservation and management of historic urban landscapes’. Thus, the strategy for conservation of urban heritage fits within the framework of the broader aims for overall sustainable development; it also integrates in the national policies and programmes for development and in the urban spatial plans. This allows to preserve ‘the quality of human environment’ and to enhance ‘the productive and sustainable use of urban spaces, while recognizing their dynamic character, and promoting social and functional diversity’.

The approach to the historic urban landscape, as defined in the Recommendation of UNESCO, is an important part of the conceptual frame of the present MP and is consistently followed in all parts of the Plan.

On this basis emerge the three strategic goals of the modern policy regarding historic towns:

  • Conservation of the integral urban cultural heritage in the broadened scope of its content, territorial and temporal scope – as part of the ‘overall urban setting’;

  • Sustainable use of urban heritage in its whole social and functional diversity, recognizing the dynamic character of the living historic town;

  • Effective management of urban heritage in a manner that contributes to the quality of life and well-being of the citizens; that preserves and enhances the urban identity and that ensures sustainable urban development,

The territorial scope of the MP is determined corresponding to the active Ordinance – by the boundaries of the immovable heritage site “The Ancient City of Nessebar“ and its protection zone, regulated according to the active legislation.

The prognosticated period of the MP, according to the Ordinance, is 20 years and includes five-year programmes for implementation and one-year working programmes. As basic year is accepted 2011, when were executed the analysis and evaluation of the present state of the property. The period of action of the Plan is from 2012 until 2032, the year 2012 is set as year for urgent actions.

The process of elaboration of the MP in the period 2011-2012 includes the following phases executed in accordance with the Ordinance:

1. Elaboration of the MP

After the assignment of the Plan in 2010, NIICH formed a poly-disciplinary team of specialists from the Institute and external experts in the field of conservation and restoration of immovable heritage sites, archaeology, urbanism, spatial planning, landscape architecture, art studies, history, engineering geology and geodesy, tourism, management, museology, law, cartography, etc. – about 60 experts in all the fields covered in the content and structure of the Plan.

In the period 2011-2012 a permanent on-site monitoring in Nessebar has been executed; considerable information for the property from various sources has been provided (the Municipality of Nessebar, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Ministry of Culture, the Scientific-documentary Archive of NIICH, etc.); an actual map base for the needs of MP has been developed; a number of meetings have been held with representatives of the central bodies, the local authorities, citizens of Nessebar, the results of which were taken in consideration. Thanks to the introduced strict organisation of the work the MP was finished and submitted to the Commissioner – Municipality of Nessebar.

2. Public discussion of the MP

According to the Ordinance (Part II, Public Discussion) the MP, prior to be submitted for authorisation and adoption, is subject to public discussion by the interested institutions, public organisations and citizens (art. 12, par. 1).

Aiming at facilitating the discussion process there was developed a web page containing the Summary of the MP with options for easy access to tables, schemes, photographs and annexes to the Plan. The module is linked to the websites of the Municipality of Nessebar and the Ministry of Culture.

The Public Discussion itself was organised by the Commissioner – Municipality of Nessebar, strictly adhering to the Ordinance (art. 13, par. 1) and was held on 24 July 2012 in Nessebar, with a great public interest. The Commissioner documented the discussion by a written protocol, a copy of which was submitted to the Executor for inclusion of the remarks and the recommendations from the Discussion in the Plan. To the Protocol are attached additionally received opinions and recommendations. NIICH prepared a paper with the remarks and recommendations from the Public Discussion, which was submitted in the Ministry of Culture within the period of one month from the date of the Discussion.

3. Inclusion of remarks and recommendations from the Public Discussion in the MP

All useful remarks and recommendations, resulting from the various manners of participation of the public and the interested state and municipal bodies, as well as those from the Public Discussion with participation of citizens of Nessebar, are accepted by the NIICH and included in the MP. At some places in the Plan it is explicitly noted that the amendments are result of the Public Discussion and in certain cases the concrete remarks and recommendations are duly cited. This approach legitimates the MP as an open document – result of a dialogue between the parties concerned.

In its present form, the structure of the MP, considering the Ordinance, includes three volumes:

VOLUME 1. MAIN TEXT (total volume of 410 pages)

  • Part І. Introduction

  • Part ІІ. General description

  • Part ІІІ. Importance of the property

  • Part ІV. Analysis and evaluation of the state

  • Part V. Strategic objectives and specific tasks of the Management Plan

  • Part VІ. Strategic guidelines for conservation and management

  • Part VІІ. Implementation of the Management Plan (programmes, plans, projects)

  • Part VІІІ. Bibliography of the Management Plan

  • Electronic version of the MP


  • Part І. Graphic illustrations (46 schemes)

  • Part ІІ. Photographic documentation (247 selected photographs)


  • Part І. Pilot products of the MP (152 pages)

  • Part ІІ: Documents concerning the MP (261 pages)

The present summary presents the MP in abbreviated form in order to facilitate its introduction to the public and to the specialists, as well as to be published on the Internet ( In this case this is extremely useful, considering the large size of the plan, exceeding 1000 pages of text, illustrations and annexes. The ambition is to range equally over all its most important aspects, as well as illustrate them with the key schemes, photos, tables and other materials, providing references in the Internet. Of course, the responsible professional analysis and assessment of the MP require complete acquaintance with the full range of materials included in the three volumes.