İstanbul, home to many landmarks on the coveted United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites list, will this week host the next meeting to designate new heritage sites for protection. The 40th session of the UNESCO committee opened on Sunday at Istanbul's Congress Center. The 10-day summit will see an examination of proposals to add 26 more sites to the list, enabling their permanent conservation. The delegates from UNESCO-member countries will also discuss the state of conservation at 156 sites from around the world.
This year's nominees makes up a diverse list ranging from the Lut Desert in Iran to Mistaken Point, an ecological reserve in Canada; Ennedi Massif in Chad to a naval dockyard in Antigua and Barbuda. Although most are archeological sites from ancient times, nominees also include more contemporary works such as buildings by renowned Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier in Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, India, Japan and Switzerland. Le Corbusier, who died in 1965, was a pioneer of modern architecture and responsible for a wide array of architectural works, from residences in Europe and South America to a government building in Russia. He also worked as a consultant in the design of the U.N. headquarters in New York. For Turkey, the meeting will decide whether Ani, an archaeological site in the eastern city of Kars, will be designated as a World Heritage Site. Ani hosted empires and kingdoms throughout its history, from the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenians to Byzantine, before it fell into the hands of Turks after the conquest of Seljuk Sultan Alparslan in 1064. Ani is touted as the first city conquered Turks within the borders of present-day Turkey. Earthquakes and a Mongol invasion decreased Ani's population in the 13th and 14th centuries, and it was reduced to a small village, currently uninhabited. Located near the Turkish-Armenian border in the Turkish province of Kars, Ani is home to Seljuk mosques and churches built by Armenians, only a few of which have survived to the present day.