EAUH Conference 2018


Session M22. Historical Interpretation of the Regimes of Urban Heritage, 1750 -

Coordinators: Jacek Purchla (, Gabor Sonkoly (

The objective of the session is to explore the evolution of urban heritage on the longue durée, from the beginning of its early institutionalisation until its contemporary overarching complexity. This long process is conceived in three successive regimes. Here ‘regime’ is considered to be suitable to frame the periodisation of cultural and social changes in relationship to the levels of the political Establishment from universal to local.
The three heritage regimes are the following:
During the first regime, urban heritage is primarily determined as a cultural property threatened by the effects of modernisation and is defined by ruptures in territory and time. The first regime is determined by national and local heritage conservation regulations and it lasts until the codification of international cultural heritage protection (1780s-1960s). In the urban setting, this period corresponds to the birth of the concept of historical urban centre and to its protection;
The second regime corresponds to the first institutionalisation of Cultural Heritage as an international norm, which leads to imminent criticism (1960s-1990s);
The criticism of the first institutionalisation causes a second one under the banners of intangible heritage, diversity and sustainability, which cannot openly replace the previous paradigm because of the integrative nature of international heritage protection, but inevitably leads to a quest for appropriate operative notions and concepts. We label this current period as the third regime (1990s-). According to the new paradigm of urban heritage protection, the protected heritage unit is defined in a continuous time (sustainability), in a continuous territory (landscape) and by the perception of its local community, which is the custodian of the survival of cultural diversity, and consequently, of human culture.

Paper-givers are called to examine the plausibility of this periodisation through the examples of individual cities/towns/urban areas or through comparative analysis of several cities in order to show the elements of resilience as well as those of renewal in the last centuries of European cities, which were claimed or strived to be historic and protected.
Keywords: urban heritage; cultural heritage regime; historical urban centre