The Ukrainian southern sea port of Odesa has applied for inclusion of its historical central part in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The nomination dossier was signed in Kyiv on Oct. 4 by Odesa Mayor Hennadiy Trukhanov, Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, and Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova, who chairs the National Commission for UNESCO Affairs.

“This document has been vetted by the Institute of National Memory and we believe that the dossier is now ready to be submitted to UNESCO, so the center of Odesa is recognized as part of world heritage,” Dzhaparova said.

Odesa has been waiting to apply since 2001, with a tremendous amount of work done involving experts in various fields, repairs and reconstruction of utility facilities and networks, renovation of facades, and comprehensive reconstruction of buildings and other structures in the city’s historical part.


The nomination dossier was completed in late 2018. The dossier and supplementary materials were sent in 2019 to the Ukrainian national committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites for recommendations and to the Ukrainian Culture Ministry for consideration and approval. The materials are now on their way to UNESCO headquarters in Paris for urgent consideration.

The nominated site is 80.3 hectares in area and includes the preserved part of the embankment and buildings of the former Porto Franco. There are also architectural sites like the Prymorskiy Boulevard building ensemble, Dumska Square, Vorontsov Palace, Kateryninska Square, the Potemkin Stairs, and the famous Odesa Opera Theater.

The status of a UNESCO World Heritage site provides for:

  • additional guarantees on the preservation and integrity of unique natural and cultural complexes;
  • greater prestige of the areas and their managing organizations;
  • popularization of the listed sites and facilitation of the development of alternative environmental management (primarily eco-tourism);
  • priority funding for maintenance of world cultural and natural heritage sites, primarily by the World Heritage Fund;
  • facilitation of monitoring and control of natural and cultural sites.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes one natural and seven cultural sites which are situated on Ukrainian territory. The most prominent of them are St. Sophia’s Cathedral and the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra in Kyiv, which are recognized as chefs-d’oeuvre of human genius. Fortunately, as of Oct. 5, 2022 these sites were intact, though hundreds of Ukraine’s remarkable historical, cultural and natural sites have suffered catastrophically from Russia’s invasion since February.


The Ukrainian Culture and Information Policy Ministry had, as of Sep. 5, reported more than 500 cases of either destruction or damage at Ukrainian cultural heritage sites, including 169 churches and other religious buildings, 36 historical buildings, 75 cultural centers, 52 monuments, 45 libraries, 36 museums and dozens of cultural and natural reserves.

Most of the crimes of aggression committed against Ukraine’s cultural heritage have been committed in Donetsk Region (130), Kharkiv Region (108), Kyiv Region ( 80), Luhansk Region (59), Chernihiv Region (38), and Sumy Region (28). Around 100 cultural sites had been completely destroyed as of July 2022.

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