ICOMOS Statement on Odesa Attacks

On July 23rd, the Historic Centre of Odesa in Ukraine, which is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, was subject to a barrage of missiles, resulting in severe damage to cultural sites in the area such as the Transfiguration Cathedral. 

Transfiguration Cathedral in Odesa after Russian missile attack. Image licensed under the Creative Commons ©Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine  

ICOMOS – as Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee – has made a statement following the attack. The statement notes that ICOMOS joins the Director General of UNESCO in expressing its strongest condemnation at recent repeated attacks on World Heritage areas in Ukraine – Lviv and Odesa – destroying lives and damaging significant cultural sites. 

ICOMOS also reminded Russia of its commitment as a State Party to the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. ICOMOS and UNESCO strongly condemn this incident. For more information, see the full response here.  

About the Historic Centre of Odesa:  

The Historic Centre of Odesa is located within the port city on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine and was originally planned by a military engineer. The success of the Freeport in the 19th century attracted many traders who brought to Odesa a diverse Eastern European culture, which was reflected in Odesa’s architecture in the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, creating a unique cityscape. In 2008, The Historic Centre of Odesa was inscribed on the National Register of Immovable Historic Monuments of Ukraine for its integrity of the historical structure and as a testimony to the prosperity and diversity brought about by the industrial revolution. 

In 2022, The Historic Centre of Odesa was under threat due to the war conflict between Russia and Ukraine. After Ukraine submitted its bid to UNESCO, UNESCO adopted an emergency procedure to review the site and placed it on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2023. In the attack in July of 2023, the Transfiguration Cathedral and other sites of The Historic Centre of Odesa were severely damaged, causing irreparable damage. 

For more information about the Historic Centre of Odesa, see the inscription here.