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Heritage city Seville’s skyscraper irks UNESCO

MADRID (AFP) ― U.N. cultural body UNESCO has warned Seville not to endanger its World Heritage status by building skyscrapers in its historic centre after a controversial tower nearly stripped the Spanish city of its title.

Seville managed to irritate UNESCO by constructing a 178-meter high tower, designed by architect Cesar Pelli, just a few hundred metres from the city’s Giralda, a former minaret converted to a bell tower for the cathedral ― home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus ― and its Alcazar palace.

It was this ensemble that earned Seville its place on the heritage list in 1987.

According to a UNESCO official, the heritage committee “was not happy. It asked Spain to suspend its project and the country did not really react.”

Seville was allowed to keep its status as the site is classed on UNESCO’s list as a “remarkable monumental complex” rather than a landscape.

However, the U.N. body said it would “demand guarantees against any new development” that might damage the site.

A spokesman for Seville City Hall told AFP “there will be no more building to such great hights in the area” and promised to “reduce the visual impact” of the Pelli skyscraper.

UNESCO’s heritage committee, which has been in St. Petersburg to decide which sites make it on to the prestigious heritage list, will wrap up its task on Friday.