The palace of Emperor Galerius.

Felix Romuliana – The Palace of Emperor Galerius (Serbia)

In the far east of Serbia can be found a very special example of ancient Roman culture: a splendid, breathtakingly beautiful palace built under Emperor Galerius Valerius Maximianus within an imposing and architecturally unique fortress.

Emperor Galerius Valerius Maximianus (ruled 293-311) was born in the middle of the 3rd century in the valley of the river Crna Reka, not far from the modern Serbian city of Zaječar, and it was in this valley, protected on all sides, that he erected his residence at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century, calling it Romuliana after his mother, Romula.

Western gate to the old fortified palace.
Western gate to the old fortified palace.

The complex is a special type of monument to Roman court architecture. The palace was built on the instruction of the Emperor as his retirement home and is at the same time the place in which he was buried and deified.

The visible parts of the complex were mentioned by travel writers back in the 19th century. The archaeological excavations which began in 1953 revealed the remains of the older and newer fortified palaces as well as numerous buildings serving public and private purposes.

The two palaces and the other buildings dating from that time were built in a relatively short period of 14 years (from 297 to 311). The single roadway which once linked the east gate (which has been restored and preserved under the Cultural Preservation Programme) with the west gate divides the complex into a north and a south section, each of which was used for different purposes. The northern half was the site of the imperial palace with a small temple and a sacrificial shrine in the courtyard; the southern half held public buildings (a large temple with two crypts and rect angular foundations and thermal baths) and the palace’s ancillary buildings.

An aerial view of the beautiful floor decoration.
An aerial view of the beautiful floor decoration.

The palace is decorated with wonderful mosaic floors with abstract motifs and figures. The most important of the numerous fragments of sculpture found during the excavations is the head of Emperor Galerius from a monumental porphyry sculpture.

In the light of its architectural value, but also because of the beauty and quality of the artworks, especially the mosaics, and as it is still a working archaeological site, Romuliana was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007.

Project: Bora Dimitrijević, Project Director, Director of Zaječar National Museum

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Part of the studio.

Hansen Bahia – Footprints of a German Artist (Brazil)

The German-born artist Hansen Bahia created a unique breadth of expressionist art. His works provide a good example of the influence by German immigrants on, and contribution to, the cultural richness of the South American country.

Nearly four per cent of Brazil’s 190 million inhabitants are of German descent. Most of them live in the south of the country, where their influence on culture and society is most perceptible. However, German immigrants have also left their mark on the northeast of the country. An outstanding example is the German-born artist Karl-Heinz Hansen, known in Brazil as Hansen Bahia, who created numerous impressive works of art in Salvador.

In future Hansen Bahia’s entire oeuvre will be on display here in Cachoeira-São Felix.
In future Hansen Bahia’s entire oeuvre will be on display here in Cachoeira-São Felix.

Hansen Bahia’s works are strongly influenced by his chequered biography. Karl-Heinz Hansen, born in Hamburg in 1915, was a sailor, sculptor, painter and film-maker. However, he devoted most of his artistic career to woodcuts. He produced his first woodcut in 1946, shortly after the end of the Second World War. He took a simple piece of wood and, using the sharpened spokes of an umbrella, scratched into it motifs of Germany in the process of reconstruction. In 1949 he left Germany and, after a short stay in Sweden, emigrated to Brazil. He settled in São Paulo and worked for a big publishing company. During this period he created numerous woodcuts, which were displayed in larger exhibitions and at Biennales.

His move to Salvador de Bahia in 1955 was a turning point in Hansen Bahia’s life. Even though he visited Germany from time to time, Salvador de Bahia became his second home. Here he created numerous works reflecting a symbiotic relationship between traditional German artistic craftsmanship and Brazil’s rich imaginative culture and exuberance. Hansen Bahia owes his name to the famous Brazilian poet Jorge Amado, who bestowed on him the epithet Bahia in honour of his work. Later Hansen Bahia donated his most important works to the town of Cachoeira. He also founded the Hansen Bahia Foundation, which has managed and taken care of his artistic legacy since his death in 1978.

Part of the studio with a restored wooden printing plate on the wall.
Part of the studio with a restored wooden printing plate on the wall.

Over the years Brazil’s tropical climate has damaged the very delicate work of the woodcuts and threatened to destroy them completely. Hansen Bahia’s work was in grave danger of being lost forever. In response, the Federal Foreign Office provided funds under its Cultural Preservation Programme for the restoration of 78 woodcuts, which were then put on display to the public at the Goethe-Institut in Salvador.

Although Hansen Bahia’s art is only one example of the diverse cultural exchange between Germany and Brazil, it is an impressive testament to the imprint left by German immigrants on the South-American country’s heritage.

Project: Martin Mahn, German Consulate-General in Recife

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Restoration of the badly damaged roof of the Church of the Nativity.

Restoration of the Church of the Nativitiy in Bethlehem (Palestinian Territories)

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is a unique architectural ensemble comprising elements from 1700 years of varying cultural influences. The Church, which was declared a World Heritage site in 2002, is probably the oldest sacred building in continuous use in the Holy Land.

“Ubi natus est Dominus Iesus Christus, ibi basilica facta est iusso Constantini.” B. Bagatti, Gli Antichi Edifi ci Sacri di Betlemme, Franciscan Printing Jerusalem (1983)

Built in 339 AD under the auspices of Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, the original structure of the Church of the Nativity was largely destroyed, then rebuilt by Justinian in the mid-6th century and redecorated by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Today the Church is overseen jointly by the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Churches, which means that the daily services and numerous religious festivals of all three have to be taken into account during the restoration work.

Restoration began in 2013. Supported by the international community and the Palestinian Authority, the Italian restoration experts of Piacenti s. p. a. first tackled necessary work on the roof and windows, then on the external walls, nave, plaster and mosaics.

From a platform at the level of the joists, a temporary roof was installed to allow the restoration of the ancient roof system. Decayed sections of the joists were removed and replaced with ancient wood brought from Italy. The prime aim of these restorations was to retain as many of the original materials and elements as possible.

The external walls and internal plasterwork had been badly affected by rain, humidity and some microbiological damage. Restorers specialising in the conservation of stone and plaster therefore first cleaned all the surfaces and removed extraneous materials, filling in cracks with a suitable mortar and consolidating the most badly damaged areas. At the same time, work on the nave began.

View from the nave to the eastern door.
View from the nave to the eastern door.

A considerable amount of German support has been directed towards the restoration of the Church’s eastern door to the nave – a large ancient wooden structure with ornate woodcarvings which will soon again open to one of the most fascinating churches in history.

Project: Christian Schaal, Giammarco Piacenti, German Representative Office Ramallah in cooperation with Piacenti s. p. a.

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The Chinese port city of Qingdao.

Traces of Germany in the Middle Kingdom (China)

From 1898 until 1914 the Chinese port city of Qingdao was a German concession. Even today the face of the city is dominated by old German architecture: Christ Church in particular bears witness to a bygone age.

Christ Church, originally called “New Church”, was built by the Berlin Protestant Church Board between 1908 and 1910 and consecrated on 23 October 1910. Following the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Tse-Tung, the then last service in Christ Church was held on 27 November 1949, the first Sunday of Advent.

In the wake of the reform and opening-up of China, the exercise of religion under state control is again possible. Sunday services have been celebrated in Christ Church again since 1980. Today the church has around 1200 members and is used for baptisms, confirmations and weddings. It has a lively musical life ranging from the church choir to rap.

Christ Church after a well-attended sunday service.
Christ Church after a well-attended sunday service.

The Free State of Bavaria, as part of its twinning link with Shandong Province, has done much to preserve the German cultural heritage in Qingdao. Now the Foundation for the Preservation of German-Style Buildings in China, with a grant from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, has worked with German experts to reconstruct the copper covering on the top of the spire. At the same time, the roof was restored with a weathercock to replace the one which fell in a storm in 1942. The next projects planned are the restoration of the pipe organ and the ornate leaded windows, which were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

The restoration of Christ Church’s capped roof is no mere construction project; it is a highly symbolic project, a special way to approach Sino-German history.

Clock of the Christ Church.
Clock of the Christ Church.

Qingdao, whose economy and population are growing rapidly, is increasingly looking to its German colonial heritage, not so much out of nostalgia but rather in the realization that preserving and restoring its historic architecture will give it a competitive advantage over other cities which are becoming ever more faceless and similar as a result of modernization.

Although other cities, e.g. Weifang, Wohan and Tianjin, have notable German-style buildings too, only Qingdao has an Old Town laid out entirely in the European style. An application has been submitted for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Project: Harm Oltmann, foundation for the Preservation of german-style Buildings in China; Martin Fleischer, German Embassy in Beijing

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Chapel of Hathor (right) and Lion temple (left).

Chapel of Hathor in Naga (Sudan)

The desert expanses of the Sudan still hide countless historical treasures which are only gradually coming to light. The city of Naga was an important place in ancient times, but was forgotten over the millennia. Only now are scientists finding out how much it has to tell us.

In 1995 a team of researchers from the Egyptian Museum Berlin began to excavate the site of the city of Naga in the steppes northeast of Khartoum. The city had lain untouched for two thousand years. Numerous huge heaps of rubble marked the area. Four wellpreserved temples decorated with reliefs and inscriptions showed that, from 300 BC to 200 AD, Naga was a royal city of the Meroitic Kingdom, the powerful southern neighbour of Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt.

Restauration work at the chapel of Hathor.
Restauration work at the chapel of Hathor.

Over ten years of excavations, the Amun Temple was uncovered on its dominant position on a hill above the city. An avenue of twelve monumental ram statues lining the approach to the temple and the columns of the hypostyle discovered under rubble and winddriven sands were restored. Many of the findings in the temple – statues, steles, altars painted and decorated with reliefs, wall paintings – present an extraordinary wealth of new material for research.

A hill south of Amun Temple proved to be a veritable treasuretrove. More than 1500 relief blocks found there could be pieced together to recreate the pictures on the collapsed temple walls. Since October 2009 three wall panels with life-size depictions of Meroitic gods have been on permanent loan from the Republic of the Sudan to the New Museum in Berlin – a remarkable token of cultural cooperation.

The Naga project will end for the time being with the restoration of the Chapel of Hathor with funding from the Federal Foreign Office’s Cultural Preservation Programme. The combination of Pharaonic, Graeco-Roman and Meroitic forms is a reflection of the Meroitic Kingdom’s function as a bridge between Africa and the Mediterranean. State-of-the-art technology was used in the restoration. 3D strip light scanners produced a survey of the architecture accurate to the millimetre. On the basis of these findings, the badly damaged capitals were copied in synthetic stone. The originals are to be exhibited along with other artefacts in a local museum devoted to the excavations; the museum has been designed free of charge by the British architect David Chipperfield. In this way Naga can again become a focal point of the Sudan’s historical and cultural identity.

Project: Prof. Dr. Dietrich Wildung, Project Director, egyptian museum and Papyrus Collection, Berlin

Promoted by:  Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office


Restoration work on the figure of Vishnu.

Angkor Wat (Cambodia)

In south-east Asia, amidst the jungles of Cambodia, lie some of the most impressive cultural sites in the world. The temple complex Angkor, which has been in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, captivates visitors with its majestic dimensions and wide variety of art forms.

From the 9th till the 14th century, Cambodia was the heart of high Khmer culture. The largest and most important temple in the area is Angkor Wat. Its surfaces are decorated with unique stone sculptures, including almost 1850 divinities (known locally as „apsaras“), bas-reliefs up to 100m long in the galleries and richly-decorated tympanums which look as though they have been carved from wood. These latter, however, are in a worrying condition; many have already fallen victim to the weather.

Restoration work at prasat kravan temple.
Restoration work at prasat kravan temple. © Leisen/TH Köln

Since 1995 a team from Cologne University of Applied Sciences has been working to prevent further decay. The restoration and conservation measures are being carried out by lecturers and students from the Institute of Restoration and Conservation Science in cooperation with a team of Cambodian conservators. The project also receives support from external scientists in the fields of geology, geomicrobiology and chemistry.

Every natural stone has its own characteristic properties; each one reacts differently to the effects of the weather. Since 1995, therefore, the sandstone blocks used to build Angkor and the damage already caused have been the subject of detailed investigation so that decisions can be taken on the most suitable conservation methods. Every situation, every temple, is considered individually, and all steps in the process must be documented in detail.

A thorough survey revealed that about 300 apsaras and a large number of reliefs on the pediments of Angkor Wat were so badly damaged that large pieces of stone could fall off at any time. Since 1998 the weather-beaten reliefs have been undergoing painstaking conservation. However, it will not be possible to prevent further damage completely. Continual monitoring and maintenance will be needed.

Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants.
Documentation and conservation of life-size elephants. © Leisen/TH Köln

The German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP) began in 2003 with an examination of further temples in Angkor Park, including the early brick temples with their amazing stucco decorations. On the basis of the findings, conservation measures were successfully carried out. In 2006 work extended also to Koh Ker temple, north-east of Angkor. In 2008 work began on the derelict remains of Preah Khan Kampong Svay.

If the work is to be successful, the workers must undergo constant training. As part of the project, the GACP trained the Cambodian conservators. Students from Cologne University of Applied Sciences and other universities can help with project work during their practical semester or help with dissertations. Playing a part in a major scientific research project on a UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique opportunity for the students.

Project: Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen, Project Director, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted by: Cultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The Ottoman Qaisariyas in the Bazaar in Erbil (Region of Kurdistan-Iraq)

The Ottoman Qaisariyas in the Bazaar in Erbil (Region of Kurdistan-Iraq)

The history of the northern Iraqi city of Erbil spans more than five millennia. The citadel hill, a World Cultural Heritage site since 2014, and two historic commercial buildings at the foot of the citadel – the Ottoman Qaisariyas – bear witness to this history.

The landscape of the capital of Kurdistan Province is chiefly dominated by more recent history. A large amount of historical fabric dating from between the 18th and the 20th centuries has been preserved in the area of the citadel, in the traditional residential districts to the immediate south and in the Bazaar. It is under acute threat from the widespread desire for construction and modernisation in the area.

The historical buildings located in the Bazaar area are two Qaisariyas, separate, roofed commercial buildings which were erected in the late 19th century by a family of wealthy long-distance merchants for the sale and storage of high-quality goods.

In their position at the centre of the Bazaar, embedded between the main north-south traffic arteries, they form architectural points of Reference between the urban landmarks of the citadel and the mosque in the southern area of the Bazaar. Within the structural fabric of the Bazaar district the two-storey buildings, closed to the outside, stand out clearly from the surrounding structures with their identical shop units and barrel-vaulted walkways. This self-contained nature of the buildings is currently barely recognisable due to subsequent installations and structural damage. The Qaisariyas have historical significance as a regional form of commercial building. They reflect the importance of Upper Mesopotamia as a place of interaction between Iran, southern Iraq, Anatolia and Syria. Their conservation will help preserve Erbil’s historical identity as part of this heterogeneous region.

In their current state the Qaisariyas are under acute threat. To save the buildings, which are of great historical and architectural importance, a detailed building survey and damage analysis were performed and a restoration plan complying with preservation standards developed as part of a cooperation project run by the Kurdistan Department of Antiquities together with the TU Berlin and the German Archaeological Institute. In addition, conservation and restoration work was carried out on selected pilot sections of both buildings. Restoration of the entire structure in line with the monument preservation concept is to be implemented by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Project: Dr. Martina Müller-Wiener (TU Berlin), Urban development history, sources; Dr. Anne Mollenhauer (TU Berlin), Architectural history, monument preservation; Dr. Dietmar Kurapkat, (German Archaeological Institute), Building research, monument preservation

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

View of the building site of the Sistani house in the Bam Citadel.

Sistani House in the Bam Citadel (Iran)

The Bam Citadel in south-eastern Iran is the world’s largest clay-built complex, with a history spanning more than 2500 years. On 26 December 2003 the Citadel was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake. Large parts of one of the central buildings in the Citadel, the Sistani House, which dates back to the late 18th century, also collapsed.

Since 2007 the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office has been promoting the project to reconstruct the Sistani House, incorporating the existing ruins to bear witness to its architectural and cultural history, and is thus supporting the efforts of the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) and UNESCO to preserve and maintain the Citadel.

A team from the TU Dresden submitted proposals for restoring and rebuilding the Sistani House which, as well as reconstructing destroyed sections in keeping with the original, placed an emphasis on preserving key parts of the ruins as a testimony to the past and incorporated preventive measures to minimise earthquake damage. Subsequent restoration and reconstruction projects in the Citadel also included subtle but effective improvements in the clay buildings’ earthquake resistance. In the case of the Sistani House, this was achieved by reinforcement of the clay bricks with date palm fibres, vertical anchoring as well as the use of ring anchors and installation of tension elements into the horizontal joints. Comprehensive theoretical investigations and practical experiments formed the basis for the measures, which drew on the latest scientific findings as well as improved technologies adapted to the task in hand.

The project involves a significant degree of knowledge transfer. As well as the technologies, the methods and planning, ranging from the archaeological rubble clearance, through the drafting and approval stages, up to the working drawings and construction supervision, are to serve as a model for how to proceed in the case of valuable cultural structures.

The project was realised through several annual campaigns in which Germany was responsible for the planning and the technical and technological requirements as well as implementation of the injection grouting and anchoring work. The Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation then performed the rest of the reconstruction work, guided and supervised by Germany. Completion and full re-use is scheduled for 2015. Over the course of the project a good working relationship with the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation ICHHTO has been established and maintained, in which both sides have complemented and supported each other. In the past years the project has therefore also shown Iranians that international cooperation is viable and effective.

Project: Prof. Wolfram Jäger, Project Coordinator, Technische Universität Dresden

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The team at work.

Saving The Murals of Vat Sisaket in Vientiane (Laos)

Between 1818 and 1824, King Anouvong had a monastic complex built in Vientiane which has weathered all that history has thrown at it. The oldest construction in the city, it is now a national memorial and museum housing the largest and most significant collection of 15th to 19th-century Buddhist sculpture and what are probably the oldest murals in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Only a few years after the monastic complex was completed, two Siamese invasions left the city of Vientiane almost razed to the ground. Vat Sisaket alone was spared. King Anouvong had attacked Siam in a bid to secure the independence of his kingdom. He and his family were publicly put to death in Bangkok, and the people of Vientiane were deported to Bangkok and neighbouring Siamese regions for forced labour. It was not until the French colonisation of Laos, from 1893 onwards, that the city began to recover. Vat Sisaket, still home to monks while Vientiane had lain deserted around it for nearly 70 years, was restored for the first time in 1896. More restoration work was to follow.

Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right).
Interior of the temple in March 2015 following initial restoration (on the right). © Andrea Teufel/GEKE e.V.


In the sim, the temple and heart of the complex, 400m2 of murals from five different periods can be seen today. They depict adventures from the life of Prince Pookkharabat as told in the Balasankhya Jataka, alongside decorative floral compositions. Created between 1820 and 1960, they are a unique testament to the changing style of Lao Buddhist mural painting. Today, their condition is characterised by earlier structural damage, rising damp and salt deposits in the walls, crumbling plaster, peeling layers of paint and stubborn accumulations of dirt.

There used to be murals in the cloister which surrounds the temple, but they have been almost completely destroyed. Produced in part using unsuitable materials and protected only by a roof, they proved unable to withstand the tropical climate over time.

Work to comprehensively restore the buildings began in 2011. Something urgently needed to be done, but the expertise required for the extremely complicated conservation and restoration of the temple and cloister murals was unavailable in Laos; this prompted Germany’s Federal Foreign Office to release cultural heritage funds for the project. Not only can the murals now be preserved, but Lao artists have an opportunity for further training too. Extensive assessments were carried out and a conservation and restoration plan drawn up in cooperation with the Heritage Department of the Lao Culture Ministry. An international team started putting that plan into practice in 2014. A sample in the cloister shows what the original painted decoration was like. In the temple itself, the many visitors can already marvel at the first results of the mural restoration.

Project: Andrea Teufel, Project Manager

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The Nuri Mosque in Hama and water wheels.

Syrian Heritage Archive Project

The civil war in Syria poses an acute threat to the country’s cultural heritage. Thoughtless and wilful destruction and robberies are documented daily, and it is not rare for World Heritage sites to be affected. The Syrian Heritage Archive Project is designed to counter the loss of these unique historical treasures.                                             

Syria has an outstanding, millennia-old cultural heritage. The country’s social fabric is still characterised by extraordinary ethnic and religious diversity. The cultural archive of collective memory is of vital importance not only for Syria but for the whole of humanity. This is precisely why cultural sites in Syria were among the first to be recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. To counter the risk of losing for ever entire cultural landscapes with their archaeological and historic monuments, the Syrian Heritage Archive Project was launched in 2013 with funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office. Two German academic institutions with many years of experience of research in and into Syria – the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin – are playing their part in the internationally coordinated efforts to preserve Syria’s cultural heritage.

Many institutions around the world hold comprehensive analogue documentation on Syria’s archaeological and historic sites and monuments generated over decades of joint research activity in Syria. However, there is as yet no adequate digital record of this information, which is why the project seeks to compile a digital record of the archaeological research data available in Germany. These include a host of texts, plans and images relating to almost all the country’s major ruins and historic old towns. The aim is to create a solid database for a digital register of cultural sites which will, for instance, be the basis for monitoring with regard to the illegal trade in antiquities, and which will be crucial for the post-war reconstruction of destroyed archaeological sites and historic monuments. Around 127,000 data sets of country-specific material were collated in the 2013 and 2014 project phases. This enormous source of information from very different media is being archived using various iDAI. welt data processing systems, collated in a structured form as a treasure trove of information on Syria’s cultural heritage and prepared for later use.

Project: Dr. Karin Bartl, Dr. Franziska Bloch, German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Orient Department. In cooperation with the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Jemaa El Fna in Marrakech – “Hanged Man’s Square”.

Jemaa El Fna in Marrakech – “Hanged Man’s Square” (Morocco)

Every day, locals and travellers, the curious and the leisurely gather in Jemaa el Fna in Marrakech and let the performing arts of the Hlaiqi, the dancers, singers, acrobats and storytellers, wow them in this thousand-year-old town square.

The richness and diversity of cultures are manifested not just in outstanding writings, images, archaeological sites and architectural spaces but also in much more transient dynamic forms of expression like music, dance, song and oral narrative.

Halqa around Ulad Hamad u Moussa (acrobats).
Halqa around Ulad Hamad u Moussa (acrobats).© Thomas Ladenburger


A vast range of different strands of vibrant intangible arts (acrobatics, dance, song, recitation, conjuring, fortune-telling) come together in Jemaa el Fna, this large, extremely animated square – “Hanged Man’s Square”; it is a real point of confluence, concentrating the oral and performance traditions that used to be spread throughout Morocco. They have remained in place here longer than anywhere, relatively unbroken. This is a patchwork of living traditions which today are rightly counted among the intangible cultural heritage of humanity as recognised by UNESCO. The spatial distribution of spectators and artists, the ring or circle that the curious and the leisurely join around the nucleus of the performances, is known as the Halqa.

Al Halqa Virtual, the Jemaa el Fna virtual museum, transforms these performances through the medium of film, audio and writing, giving them a more lasting presence and making it possible to experience them in new ways. This online platform gives the performances – and, in a way, the square itself – accessibility beyond the limitations of time and space.

Berber music.
Berber music. © Thomas Ladenburger


At the same time, the virtual museum evokes memories of a circus tradition that used to have its place in a similarly heterogeneous form in central Europe too. The presence of these artists gives an idea of how far our culture has moved away from these arts.

Information about the various Halqas is available via a browser-based platform. Translated extracts from films and audio files create a kind of virtual tour of the square. Visitors are shown a glimpse behind the scenes of the performative experience to highlight the significance of the intangible arts to the culture of Morocco and of humanity.

Project: Thomas Ladenburger, Project manager, Thomas Ladenburger Filmproduktion “Al Halqa Virtual”

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office


Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office 


Golden Letter with hamsa bird and ruby clasp.

The Golden Letter (Myanmar)

On 7 May 1756, King Alaungphaya of Myanmar ordered a letter to be written to the British King (and Hanoverian Elector) George II proposing the establishment of a trading colony in his territory. Alaungphaya was the founder of the Konbaung dynasty, which ruled in Myanmar until 1886. Following a long period of war and division, he united the country, returning it to a position of power in the region.

The letter is engraved on a sheet of pure gold measuring 55 x 12 cm and is adorned with 24 precious rubies. It was contained in the hollow tusk of an Indian elephant. The materials used in and the care taken with its production are a visible demonstration of the importance the author of the letter attached to it.

The Golden Letter.
The Golden Letter. © GWLB


Alaungphaya’s offer was of global significance, as it could have helped Britain in her colonial competition with France. However, after a two year journey to London, the letter was never answered. King George II, tied up with the wars in Europe, sent it home to his library in Hanover. As a result of his offer falling on deaf ears, Alaungphaya had Britain’s only trade settlement in his country destroyed, and relations between the two countries were broken off for centuries.

For 250 years the original letter was believed lost. Although the Golden Letter had always been regarded as a particularly valuable document in the library, little was known of its importance in world history. In 2007, Jacques Leider, carrying out research on behalf of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, shed light on the matter. The first public displays of the Golden Letter in Hanover in 2011 attracted tens of thousands of visitors and sparked global media interest.  

The letter was contained in the hollow tusk of an Asian elephant.
The letter was contained in the hollow tusk of an Asian elephant. © GWLB


On behalf of the Federal Foreign Office and with support from the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, the company Scanbull Software GmbH digitised the Golden Letter in 3D so that with the available data it can be presented in various ways: 3D projections of the digital model in mid air, on a screen, in glass showcases or as facsimiles or print-outs. The valuable data enable the model to be presented in virtually every analogue and digital format, allowing it to be reproduced in freely selected media – from a print-out of a particular detail to a media installation. On the basis of this digitised version, the Government of Myanmar is being provided with a 3D film of the Golden Letter and a 3D monitor for the exhibit in the new national museum in Nay Pyi Taw.

Project: Dr. Georg Ruppelt, Director of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

SourceWorlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Repairing fractures and tears in a manuscript page.

Preserving the manuscripts from Timbuktu (Mali)

The story was in the news for weeks in late 2012, when radical Islamist rebels in Mali were threatening to destroy all the 12th and 13th-century Islamic writings which had until that point been kept in Timbuktu. Around 285,000 of the manuscripts, which are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list, were evacuated to Bamako in a secret rescue operation. Now these historical documents need to be preserved and made permanently accessible for research. 

This rescue operation was the work of librarian Abdel Kader Haidara from Timbuktu. With many brave helpers, he secretly organised the transport of the manuscripts to Bamako, with financial support from the Federal Foreign Office. In this way several hundred thousand documents from the old Ahmed Baba Institute were saved – unnoticed by the Jihadists, who had in the meantime established their headquarters in the modern library building. In the autumn of 2014, Haidara was presented with the German Africa Award by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in recognition of these efforts. 

Financial support from Germany

Germany’s help in saving the Timbuktu manuscripts is also substantial in financial terms. More than half of the international aid given to SAVAMA-DCI, an NGO which represents the overwhelming majority of the manuscript-owning families of Timbuktu, comes from Germany. 

Germany remains the most important bilateral donor in 2015, thanks to the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, the Gerda-Henkel-Foundation and the Jutta-Vogel-Foundation. The “Center for the Study of Manuscript Cultures” of the University of Hamburg coordinates the use of Germany’s contribution under the leadership of Dr. Dmitry Bondarev.

Archiving and digitising the manuscripts

International experts are helping to save and preserve the manuscripts in Bamako. SAVAMA is collaborating with the University of Hamburg to archive the manuscripts and catalogue them. Other donors and technical partners are helping to digitise the manuscripts before they are sent back to where they belong.

Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara standing in front of stacked transport boxes at an interim storage site; manuscripts packed in boxes.
Dr. Abdel Kader Haidara standing in front of stacked transport boxes at an
interim storage site; manuscripts packed in boxes. © Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC), Universität Hamburg


Coordination and collaboration between the partners involved has improved tremendously since the project began. An International Strategy Conference held in the Federal Foreign Office in June 2014 was instrumental in this regard. The Malian Government, civil society, multilateral and bilateral partners, foundations and research institutes have since jointly developed a strategy designed to reconcile the interests of the Malian owners with those of international research. The German Embassy in Bamako coordinates a network to this end and regularly invites all partners to meetings.

Project: Prof. Michael Friedrich, Director
CSMC, University of Hamburg
Dr. Dmitry Bondarev, Project leader CSMC, University of Hamburg

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

SourceCultural preservation programme of the Federal Foreign Office

Exterior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.

Restoration of the old town and regional development in Balkh (Afghanistan)

The town of Balkh, which was known as Bactra in ancient times, dates back to 500 B.C. and is situated some 20 kilometres north-west of Mazar‑e‑Sharif in northern Afghanistan, on what was once the Silk Road. It is regarded as the cradle of Iranian civilisation and has been an important pilgrimage site from time immemorial. 

Over the course of its history, Balkh has been a spiritual centre of Zoroastrianism, Buddhism and Islam respectively. It served as one of Alexander the Great’s northernmost bases from 329 to 327 B.C. It was completely destroyed by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220 and only rebuilt in the fifteenth century under Timurid rule. However, the town’s significance continued to decline, not least as a result of the provincial government’s move to Mazar‑e‑Sharif in 1866.

Extensive restoration

In addition to supporting restoration and stabilisation work on important buildings such as the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine, the Dehdadi Mosque, the Sudhan Qoli Madrassa Gate, Abu Zaidan Mosque and minaret, and Mir Rusedar and Khvajeh Nizamuddin shrines, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office is funding the restoration of the buildings’ gardens and public spaces. The aim of this major project is to improve local residents’ living conditions and infrastructure in the long term by constructing infrastructure such as roads, sewage systems and waste disposal systems. 

Interior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.
Interior of the Khvajeh Abu Nasr Parsa shrine.


Close involvement of the population

A further part of the project involves training programmes in traditional crafts such as carpentry, bricklaying and the manufacture of glazed tiles. Involving the local population and administration closely at all levels creates cultural identification with the local historical heritage and increases the sense of responsibility for this identity. The project is a good example of how cultural preservation can be achieved in harmony with economic development, modern urban planning and the needs of the local population.

At the suggestion of the Afghan Government, Balkh old town was added to UNESCO’s Tentative List of World Cultural Heritage in 2004.

Project promoted by / SourceCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Borobudur - A Detail of a Relief

Borobudur – A World Cultural Heritage Site at Risk (Central Java, Indonesia)

On 26 October 2010, Mount Merapi, one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, became active again. It erupted on 5 November, causing extensive damage. Borobudur, which has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1991, was completely covered by a layer of volcanic ash. Cleaning work was undertaken immediately, and also received funding from Germany. However, the question subsequently arose of how harmful the volcanic ash was for the precious reliefs. In order to answer this and other questions, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office has been funding a UNESCO stone conservation research project since 2011, which is being carried out in cooperation with the Borobudur Conservation Office (BCO) and the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.

Borobudur Temple was built under the Sailendra dynasty during the eighth and ninth centuries. Its design and stone reliefs make it one of the most impressive World Heritage sites. Six square terraces with 1460 reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology, niches with countless sculptures of the seated Buddha, a further 72 statues of the Buddha in bell-shaped stupas on circular terraces, and the main temple at the top of the monument were built in the fertile Kedu Plain, the Garden of Java. The foundation, a natural hill formed by aggradation, already proved to be unstable at the beginning of construction work. The volcanic building stones andesite and basalt were not extracted from quarries, but rather from the rivers.

The first large-scale restoration project was carried out between 1907 and 1911 and coordinated by Theodore van Erp. The walls were at risk of collapsing, and water was shooting out of the relief walls. During the restoration, the walls were stabilised and the drainage system was improved. The next major restoration phase took place between 1973 and 1983. This UNESCO project was run by Caesar Voute from the Netherlands. All of the relief walls and galleries were dismantled and rebuilt (anastylosis), while stabilising concrete platforms and an internal drainage system were integrated into the monument.

The complex internal drainage system created new problems. The magnificent reliefs remain exposed to destructive moisture penetration and frequent leaks. Another threat to the reliefs is posed by ongoing crust formation and flaking on the stones, as well as by salts that damage the structure. The great range of features in the building stones mean that the degree of damage varies among the reliefs.

Apart from providing scientific documentation and analysis of the weathering process, experts are developing a wide range of methods and materials to conserve the reliefs. As part of the cooperation, the BCO’s researchers and restorers are receiving further training in modern analysis and conservation techniques.

Project: Prof. Hans Leisen and Dr. Esther von Plehwe-Leisen, Project managers, Cologne University of Applied Sciences

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

The Beth El synagogue in São Paulo

Restoration of a Synagogue (São Paulo, Brazil)

Funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office made it possible to restore the Beth‑El synagogue, built in 1929 and inaugurated in 1932 in the centre of São Paulo, to its former glory.

The biggest city in the southern hemisphere with the longest traffic jams, the greatest number of helicopters, the best restaurants, the biggest German centre of industry in the world – São Paulo is a megalopolis, a city of superlatives. And right at the heart of its once run‑down centre there is yet another superlative, namely the most important Jewish sacred building in Brazil, the former Beth‑El synagogue.

Revival of the centre of São Paulo

Beth‑El was restored with funds from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office and is now an integral part of the first Jewish museum in Brazil currently under construction. The museum complex will, moreover, be part of the work already begun to restore and revive the city centre. 

Amongst other things, the original plaque of architect Samuel Roder has been uncovered, along with a stone model of the building and above all, the original materials and colours, all so that the Synagogue can shine not only with a renewed freshness, but also in its original glory. Along with the façade, the magnificent dome in Byzantine style and the stained glass windows, the wooden altar with its Torah shrine and the original benches dating back to 1932 were restored.

A German-Brazilian symbiosis

“The German restoration of the synagogue is a quantum leap,” commented the museum’s Director, Roberta Sundfeld, and “it has already attracted sponsors to the museum.” In this case, the Cultural Preservation Programme is not just living up to its name, it has provided the impetus for new projects and is thus a beautiful German-Brazilian symbiosis, symbolising the vibrant history of the centre of São Paulo.

Project: Eva Dombo, German Consulate-General in São Paulo

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

SourceWorlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office


The palace’s interior courtyard with the Tusa Hiti fountain.

Restoration of Patan Royal Palace (Patan, Nepal)

The Kathmandu Valley in Nepal boasts no fewer than seven World Heritage sites. One of them is Patan Royal Palace along with the temples in the palace complex. Following the two earthquakes in April and May 2015, the Federal Foreign Office, which has been committed to the preservation of this cultural heritage site for years, joined with the Gerda Henkel Foundation to launch a joint initiative to rebuild damaged cultural property in Nepal.

Since 2008, the Federal Foreign Office has provided a total of 250,000 euros for the preservation of the palace and the temples in the complex. For example, in various stages, the fountain in the south courtyard, Sundari Chowk, and the Bhandarkal water tank were restored, followed by the building’s south wing and the rear section of Sundari Chowk. When Nepal was hit by a severe earthquake in April 2015, the restored wings of the square courtyard stayed standing, but virtually the whole east wing caved in.  

Only the ground-floor arcade remained. But work to rebuild the east wing started quickly, in the autumn of 2015, again with support from the Federal Foreign Office.

Structural elements which were salvaged are being used in the restoration

All the beautifully carved wooden elements rescued from the ruins, as well as the tiles which were recovered, are being used to help rebuild the courtyard’s façade. This is possible thanks to the traditional construction techniques using clay mortar, especially as the masons and carpenters are the descendants of those who created this architecture back in the 17th and 18th centuries. 

The upper storey of the main courtyard building has been home to the “Architecture Galleries” museum of architecture since 2013. This is open to the public as part of Patan Museum, which was established in 1997. When work on the east wing is finished, Sundari Chowk will complete the museum in January 2017. The restoration, reconstruction and conversion work gives an immediate insight into a multifaceted palace complex which contributes hugely to the identity of the Kathmandu-Patan metropolis and is thus a symbol of the area’s rich architectural heritage. 

Responsibility for implementing the work lies with the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, which has saved and restored numerous buildings in Kathmandu and Patan since 1992. Between 2016 and 2018, with help from the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the Krishna temple will be repaired and the collapsed Hari Shankar temple rebuilt. 

Project promoted by / SourceCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office


Master Program “Architectural Conservation” at GJU Amman

The Master Program “Architectural Conservation” is a cooperation program organized by the Department of Historic Building Conservation and Research from the RWTH Aachen University and the Post-graduation Master program
Cultural Heritage at the TU-Berlin in cooperation with the German Jordanian University.

The aim of this cooperation is to revive the Master Program “Architectural Conservation”, originally programmed by GJU by sponsoring 30 Jordanian and refugee students with a full scholarship. The German side is supporting the
program with Visiting Professors experts in the field, while the main bulk of the teaching is provided by the GJU teaching staff and professors.

The Program is sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office as part of the project “Die Stunde Null – Eine Zukunft für die Zeit nach der Krise”.(Literally meaning Zero hour: a future after the crisis).

Moreover, the project is an initiative by the “Archaeological Heritage Network” and under the directorship of the DAI “German ArchaeologicalInstitute” in cooperation with the DAAD ” German Academic Exchange Service”.

We are looking forward for a productive and successful cooperation, especially for all the students.

Source: RWTH Aachen University

Künftig soll es möglich sein, über einen Computer, das Tablet oder Handy auf die digitale Karte der Altstadt zu tippen.

The Memory Bank – A digital Plan for Aleppo

A digital map of Aleppo’s ancient city centre is going to help to rebuild what was once one of the biggest trading hubs in the Middle East.

The pictures of a ruined city that was once one of the Middle East’s major trading hubs have gone around the world. Researchers from BTU Cottbus–Senftenberg are working on concepts for the rebuilding of this city. The potential basis for the future rebuilding plans is a detailed digital map of Aleppo’s ancient city centre.

Civil war has raged in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city and one of the oldest permanently occupied human settlements in the world, for five years. Before the conflict, this was a city of 2.5 million people. Today, more than half of its population has fled. In the course of the civil war, much of the city, especially its ancient city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, has been heavily damaged.

The researchers headed by project manager Christoph Wessling are facing a Sisyphean task. Around 20 gigabytes of data have to be systemised. Until shortly before the civil war broke out, the university’s urban planners and architects were involved in the socially sensitive renovation and revival of the ancient city centre, which was threatened by decay and poverty. In 2004, the German-Syrian project, which was funded by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit with €20 million, won a Harvard University Graduate School of Design urban planning award. The data collected at the time now comes in useful as it will make it possible to reconstruct the city. The researchers are combining roads, pavements, public spaces with fountains, statues or gardens and the floor plans of former buildings from 2011 digitally, which will make a reconstruction possible.

The aim is that in future, a tap on the digital map of the ancient city centre using a tablet computer or a mobile phone will reveal all of the building plans, photographs and descriptions for a particular location. Buildings and other city structures that are currently buried underneath the ruins will become visible. Where piles of rubble are all that is left today, the map shows the foundations, roads, lanes and plot structures that still exist underneath.

“These structures are the basis for the UNESCO World Heritage Site classification. With this project, we want to raise the general awareness of the rebuilding work that will be needed once the conflict is over, and prevent undesirable urban development that may ignore these important basic structures,” says Prof. Heinz Nagler, the head of the Urban Planning and Design department. “Our aim is to create a qualified planning basis for the rebuilding of the city. Future individual construction projects can be integrated into this overall picture to then be evaluated accordingly. We are thereby making a major contribution towards preventing the potentially insensitive large-scale renovation of Aleppo’s ancient city centre after the civil war, and are making a critical reconstruction process possible that also takes the interests of the city’s inhabitants into account”, summarises Prof. Dr. Klaus Rheidt, the head of the Building History department.

The researchers hope that this map will be completed by the end of the year, and can then be made available to the Syrian Heritage Archive at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). However, the map could also be used by Aleppo’s city council, the city’s future urban development planners, potential investors, decision-makers and urban designers, researchers, journalists, writers and the interested public as a basis for the classification and evaluation of future projects.

The project is part of a pilot project entitled “Stunde Null: A Future for the Time after the Crisis”, which addresses the issue of the rebuilding of Syria after the war. It will be the first project to be carried out within the scope of the Archaeological Heritage Network, which focuses on the conservation of cultural heritage. The network and the project receive funding from the German Federal Foreign Office. The BTU subproject will receive funding amounting to €75,000 until December 2016. An extension is planned.  

Project and Source: BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg

The Great Hall of Karakorum (Mongolia)

By reconstructing and safeguarding elements of a monumental Buddhist temple dating from the 13th century, research findings can now be presented for the first time on the site of the former Mon- golian capital of Karakorum, where they were discovered.

Karakorum is located around 300 kilometres west of Ulan Bator in the Central Mongolian grass steppe. For a short time during the 13th century, the city was the capital of the Mongol Empire. It served as a hub for the Mongol Empire’s tribes and a cosmopolitan meeting place for people from a very wide range of nations and religions. Mongolians still regard Karakorum as a key site for the country’s history and identity, as well as the nucleus and birthplace of the Mongolian nation.

Restoration work.
Restoration work. © DAI


It is almost impossible for contemporary visitors to the city founded under Genghis Khan to imagine the dramatic history that played out beneath the uneven terrain to the north of the Erdene Zuu monastery, which dates from the Modern era.

Since 2000, German and Mongolian archaeologists have been working together to research the history of the city of Karakorum. In addition to excavations in the city centre, they primarily concentrated on a detailed examination of the Great Hall in south-west Karakorum.

As the extensive excavations revealed, this was a square Buddhist temple whose walls were around 40 metres long. The magnificent hall designed in the Chinese style rose up from a two-metre-high, artificially stacked platform and was supported by 64 wooden columns on plinths in eight rows of eight. A stupa building in the centre and the division of the interior space into coloured flooring segments clearly demonstrate the mandala concept. The lotus thrones with the remains of large Buddhist sculptures lend weight to this interpretation.

The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction.
The Great Hall of Karakorum; detail of the digital reconstruction. © artefacts Berlin


Although large parts of the building’s architecture have not survived, the high platform made of artificial layers of earth, on which the temple originally rested, is still recognisable today.

In order to counteract the constant threat of erosion and the prevailing adverse weather conditions in Mongolia, extensive protection measures have been in place since 2013 as part of a conservation project. These include rebuilding the wall that originally surrounded the platform, extensively safeguarding the platform surface, uncovering the remaining plinths, and erecting staircases that give visitors access to the platform.

Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site
Erdene Zuu monastery close to the excavation site.


By protecting and partially reconstructing the monumental temple, episodes from the past which had a significant impact on modern Mongolia can be made accessible to a broad audience for the first time as part of the German-Mongolian research project.

Project: Dr. Christina Franken, Project Manager, German Archaeological Institute

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office

Mughal Tomb Chaunsath Khamba (New Delhi, India)

The restoration of Chaunsath Khambha, a Mughal mausoleum dating back to the early 17th century, was carried out between 2010 and 2014. The project was part of the Urban Renewal project run by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in the historic Nizamuddin quarter, where Humayun’s Tomb – a World Heritage site – is also to be found. For this unique project, the 25 marble domes in the tomb were removed and put back together by hand to replace centuries-old damaged iron dowels.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

Chaunsath Khambha was built in 1623–4 to serve as a tomb for Mirza Aziz Koka, foster brother of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The name reflects the tomb’s architecture: chaunsath (64) stands for the tomb’s 64 marble pillars (khambha). The mausoleum is unique on account of it being built entirely out of marble, with 25 marble domes supporting the flat roof of the structure.

The marble blocks of the 25 domes are linked to one another and embedded in the brick masonry above the domes with iron dowels. The rain water that had collected on the roof over the centuries had severely corroded the iron dowels. This led to them bursting through the masonry in all parts of the mausoleum – domes, arches, façade and even the columns. The mausoleum’s entire structure was thus in jeopardy.

unique architectural design and construction of Chaunsath Khambha as well as the fact that each stone was unique in shape and size, it was agreed that all original stones would be retained. To this end, each of the 25 domes had to be dismantled in order to remove the damaged iron dowels. Such an effort had never been undertaken before anywhere in the world.

Once each stone had been numbered and catalogued, the individual marble blocks were dismantled and reassembled on the floor. The iron dowels were removed and cracks were filled using precisely-fitting stones. It took the stonecutters eight months to successfully repair the first dome using traditional building techniques – thus establishing the methodology for repairing the rest of the mausoleum. This allowed urgently needed repairs to the roof to be taken in hand.

The repairs to the domes were coupled with repairs to the 35cm thick arch stones and the severely damaged diamond-shaped pendentives which support the marble domes. All in all, the repair of the 25 domes has taken almost four years, which amounted to more than 25,000 days of work for the stone craftsmen.

Project: Ratish Nanda, Programme Director at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture

Promoted byCultural Preservation Programme of The Federal Foreign Office

Source: Worlds of Culture, Ed. Federal Foreign Office