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Heritage monitoring team records destruction of 55 landmarks in Odesa

Thursday, 3 August 2023, 19:23

The HeMo: Ukrainian Heritage Monitoring Lab has recorded damage to 55 cultural heritage buildings in Odesa following the Russian missile attacks in July. 

Since 28 July, a team from different cities in Ukraine, including Lviv, Drohobych, Kharkiv, Kherson and Kyiv, has been working on documenting the damage caused by Russian missiles in Odesa. 

They inspected almost all the damaged facilities, except for a few that were not accessible. They noted that there were no military facilities among the damaged landmarks.

"International law considers such destruction to be war crimes, and we will continue to work on preparing materials for claims to the International Criminal Court. Numerous buildings have suffered damage that is not visible at first glance. Most of the facilities around the impact sites have deep cracks that can lead to serious consequences in the long term," said Roksolana Makar, a documentation specialist.

The HeMo: Ukrainian Heritage Monitoring Lab has recorded damage to 55 cultural heritage buildings in Odesa. Photo: HeMo

The Transfiguration Cathedral and the historic buildings next to it, the Odesa House of Scientists, the Stoliarskyi Music Lyceum of Odesa and a complex of historic residential buildings on Preobrazhenska Street in the UNESCO-protected area are among the facilities documented by the HeMo team.

Photo: HeMo

"An unfortunate situation occurred with the House of Scientists in Odesa: in the morning after the attack, without the supervision of the monument protection services, utility workers collected many small elements of the unique facade decoration and window fittings in bags along with construction debris... If it is no longer possible to return an element to its place, it is at least important to preserve it and use it as a model for restoration," said Ivan Shchurko, the leader of the expedition, about the difficulties in the work.

A team from different cities worked on documenting everything. Photo: HeMo

How much damage did UNESCO count?

A week after the biggest attack on Odesa, on 31 July, UNESCO released an updated list of cultural landmarks damaged by the Russians in Ukraine. There, the organisation calculated the total number of damaged facilities by destination group (museums, libraries, churches, etc.) and also recorded the landmarks that were damaged by region.

In this list, UNESCO recorded eight damaged cultural sites in Odesa. In particular, these are the Odesa Art Museum, the Odesa Archaeological Museum, the Odesa Maritime Museum, the Odesa Literary Museum, St Nicholas Church, Transfiguration Cathedral, Chyzhevych Residential House and Solomos House.

On 29 July, a UNESCO mission arrived in Odesa. Photo: Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture and Information Policy

UNESCO mission in Odesa

On the day of the biggest attack, 23 July, the organisation issued an official statement condemning Russia's attacks on Odesa. "UNESCO is deeply concerned and condemns in the strongest possible terms the bold attack carried out by Russian forces, which has damaged several cultural sites in the centre of Odesa, where the World Heritage Site of the Historic Centre of Odesa is located," it said.

On 29 July, a UNESCO mission led by coordinator Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi arrived in Odesa. Its task is to conduct a comprehensive assessment and document the damage caused to cultural and religious sites by Russian missile strikes on 19-23 July.

Today, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy shared photos and videos of the work of the UNESCO mission in Odesa and noted that it will continue in the coming days.

Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi. Photo: Hennadii Trukhanov / Facebook

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