Iranian journalists call on UNESCO for enlightenment on Isfahani monuments

February 2, 2010

TEHRAN -- A number of Iranian journalists have recently sent a letter to Tehran’s UNESCO Office, asking them to hold a press conference to resolve the ambiguities about the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and other monuments being threatened in Isfahan.

The letter, signed by over 100 journalists across Iran, was published Monday by the Persian service of CHN.
Iran has missed UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee’s February 1 deadline for modifying the Jahan-Nama Tower, which spoils the horizontal panorama of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a complex of monuments registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
The deadline was extended several times following requests by Iranian cultural officials. However, the modification has not been completed.
UNESCO threatened to place the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger if Iran fails to fulfill its obligation to modify the tower.
The clash between the modernism and tradition has continued as a tunnel boring project for the Isfahan Metro deviated from its proper route last November and bumped into a ramp and a lower part of the historical bridge of Si-o-Se Pol.
Other metro lines under construction are also threatening monuments located on Chahar-Bagh Street as well as in Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
Journalists believe the reports published by the Isfahani officials on the Naqsh-e Jahan Square and other historical sites are ambivalent.
They asked the office to assign a team to visit the sites and to inform people about true status of the monuments by a press conference.
The Isfahan Municipality began construction of the Jahan-Nama Tower in early 1996.
The municipality flattened a historical caravanserai and a green area to build the 56-meter tower, which covers an area of 16,000 square meters.
Everything went well for the construction of the tower, though it aroused desultory opposition by Iranian cultural heritage enthusiasts and institutions.
However, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee called for the modification of Jahan-Nama during its 28th session on July 1, 2004.
UNESCO determined that the height of the tower on its eastern side should be reduced by 12 meters and the height of its western side by 24.48 meters.
Although modification began in 2005, the Isfahan Municipality has neglected to complete it so far.
Photo: The Jahan-Nama Tower is seen at the right side of the Aali-Qapu Place on the horizon from the Naqsh-e Jahan Square in a photo taken on January 24, 2010. (Mehr/Ehsan Khosravi)