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UPA-BUA Union Professionnelle d'Architectes
Beroepsunie Van Architecten

ICOMOS Venice Charter 1964


IInd International Congress of Architects and Technicians of Historic Monuments, Venice, 1964.

Adopted by ICOMOS in 1965.

Imbued with a message from the past, the historic monuments of generations of people remain  to  the  present  day  as  living  witnesses  of  their  age-old  traditions.  People  are  becoming  more  and  more  conscious  of  the  unity  of  human  values  and  regard  ancient  monuments as a common heritage. The common responsibility to safeguard them for future generations  is  recognized.  It  is  our  duty  to  hand  them  on  in  the  full  richness  of  their  authenticity.

It  is  essential  that  the  principles  guiding  the  preservation  and  restoration  of  ancient  buildings  should  be  agreed  and  be  laid  down  on  an  international  basis,  with  each  country  being  responsible  for  applying  the  plan  within  the  framework  of  its  own  culture  and  traditions.

By defining these basic principles for the first time, the Athens Charter of 1931 contributed towards  the  development  of  an  extensive  international  movement  which  has  assumed  concrete form in national documents, in the work of ICOM and UNESCO and in the establishment by the latter of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the  Restoration  of  Cultural  Property.  Increasing  awareness  and  critical  study  have  been  brought to bear on problems which have continually become more complex and varied; now the time has come to examine the Charter afresh in order to make a thorough study of the principles involved and to enlarge its scope in a new document.

Accordingly,  the  IInd  International  Congress  of  Architects  and  Technicians  of  Historic  Monuments, which met in Venice from May 25th to 31st 1964, approved the following text:


Article 1.  The  concept  of  a  historic  monument  embraces  not  only  the  single  architectural  work  but  also  the  urban  or  rural  setting  in  which  is  found  the  evidence  of  a  particular  civilization,  a  significant development or a historic event. This applies not only to great works of art but also  to  more  modest  works  of  the  past  which  have  acquired  cultural  significance  with  the  passing of time. 

Article 2.  The conservation and restoration of monuments must have recourse to all the sciences and techniques which can contribute to the study and safeguarding of the architectural heritage. 

Article 3.  The intention in conserving and restoring monuments is to safeguard them no less as works of art than as historical evidence. 



Article 4.  It  is  essential  to  the  conservation  of  monuments  that  they  be  maintained  on  a  permanent  basis. 

Article 5.  The  conservation  of  monuments  is  always  facilitated  by  making  use  of  them  for  some  socially useful purpose. Such use is therefore desirable but it must not change the lay-out or decoration of the building. It is within these limits only that modifications demanded by a change of function should be envisaged and may be permitted. 

Article 6.  The  conservation  of  a  monument  implies  preserving  a  setting  which  is  not  out  of  scale.  Wherever the traditional setting exists, it must be kept. No new construction, demolition or modification which would alter the relations of mass and colour must be allowed. 

Article 7.  A monument is inseparable from the history to which it bears witness and from the setting in which it occurs. The moving of all or part of a monument cannot be allowed except where the  safeguarding  of  that  monument  demands  it  or  where  it  is  justified  by  national  or  international interest of paramount importance. 

Article 8.  Items of sculpture, painting or decoration which form an integral part of a monument may only be removed from it if this is the sole means of ensuring their preservation. 



Article 9.  The process of restoration is a highly specialized operation. Its aim is to preserve and reveal the  aesthetic  and  historic  value  of  the  monument  and  is  based  on  respect  for  original  material and authentic documents. It must stop at the point where conjecture begins, and in  this  case  moreover  any  extra  work  which  is  indispensable  must  be  distinct  from  the  architectural composition and must bear a contemporary stamp. The restoration in any case must be preceded and followed by an archaeological and historical study of the monument. 

Article 10.  Where  traditional  techniques  prove  inadequate,  the  consolidation  of  a  monument  can  be  achieved by the use of any modern technique for conservation and construction, the efficacy of which has been shown by scientific data and proved by experience. 

Article 11.  The  valid  contributions  of  all  periods  to  the  building  of  a  monument  must  be  respected,  since  unity  of  style  is  not  the  aim  of  a  restoration.  When  a  building  includes  the  superimposed  work  of  different  periods,  the  revealing  of  the  underlying  state  can  only  be  justified in exceptional circumstances and when what is removed is of little interest and the material  which  is  brought  to  light  is  of  great  historical,  archaeological  or  aesthetic  value,  and its state of preservation good enough to justify the action. Evaluation of the importance of the elements involved and the decision as to what may be destroyed cannot rest solely on the individual in charge of the work. 

Article 12.  Replacements of missing parts must integrate harmoniously with the whole, but at the same time must be distinguishable from the original so that restoration does not falsify the artistic or historic evidence. 

Article 13.  Additions  cannot  be  allowed  except  in  so  far  as  they  do  not  detract  from  the  interesting  parts  of  the  building,  its  traditional  setting,  the  balance  of  its  composition  and  its  relation  with its surroundings. 



Article 14.  The  sites  of  monuments  must  be  the  object  of  special  care  in  order  to  safeguard  their  integrity and ensure that they are cleared and presented in a seemly manner. The work of conservation and restoration carried out in such places should be inspired by the principles set forth in the foregoing articles.  EXCAVATIONS

Article 15.  Excavations   should   be   carried   out   in   accordance   with   scientific   standards   and   the   recommendation defining international principles to be applied in the case of archaeological excavation adopted by UNESCO in 1956.  Ruins  must  be  maintained  and  measures  necessary  for  the  permanent  conservation  and  protection of architectural features and of objects discovered must be taken. Furthermore, every means must be taken to facilitate the understanding of the monument and to reveal it without ever distorting its meaning.  All reconstruction work should however be ruled out "a priori". Only anastylosis, that is to say,  the  reassembling  of  existing  but  dismembered  parts  can  be  permitted.  The  material  used for integration should always be recognizable and its use should be the least that will ensure the conservation of a monument and the reinstatement of its form.  


Article 16.  In  all  works  of  preservation,  restoration  or  excavation,  there  should  always  be  precise  documentation  in  the  form  of  analytical  and  critical  reports,  illustrated  with  drawings  and  photographs.  Every  stage  of  the  work  of  clearing,  consolidation,  rearrangement  and  integration, as well as technical and formal features identified during the course of the work, should be included. This record should be placed in the archives of a public institution and made available to research workers. It is recommended that the report should be published.


The following persons took part in the work of the Committee for drafting the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments: 

Piero Gazzola (Italy), Chairman
Raymond Lemaire (Belgium), Reporter
José Bassegoda-Nonell (Spain)
Luis Benavente (Portugal)
Djurdje Boskovic (Yugoslavia)
Hiroshi Daifuku (UNESCO)
P.L. de Vrieze (Netherlands)
Harald Langberg (Denmark)
Mario Matteucci (Italy)
Jean Merlet (France)
Carlos Flores Marini (Mexico)
Roberto Pane (Italy)
S.C.J. Pavel (Czechoslovakia)
Paul Philippot (ICCROM)
Victor Pimentel (Peru)
Harold Plenderleith (ICCROM)
Deoclecio Redig de Campos (Vatican)
Jean Sonnier (France)
Francois Sorlin (France)
Eustathios Stikas (Greece)
Gertrud Tripp (Austria)
Jan Zachwatovicz (Poland)
Mustafa S. Zbiss (Tunisia).