Press Release

Traditional Bukharian Jewish Houses in Uzbekistan: Resilience, Community & Managing Change

The traditional houses are in the heart of the historic center of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a World Heritage listed property since 1993. Despite their outstanding heritage value, these traditional houses are exposed to rapid transformations. Following their inclusion on the 2020 World Monuments Watch, World Monuments Fund and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies launch a two-year project to reduce their risk of deterioration.


New York, NY, December 21, 2020 — Recognizing the significance of vernacular architecture within the World Heritage Historic Centre of Bukhara and its value as a resource for the diverse communities of this city, World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS), in partnership with the Bukhara State University, have launched the Traditional Bukharian Jewish Houses project, aiming to document and develop conservation strategies for these unique historic sites. 

The Traditional Bukharian Jewish Houses appeared on the 2020 World Monuments Watch, a biennial selection of cultural heritage sites that combine great historical significance with opportunity for contemporary social impact. Their inclusion elevates the prominence of historic narratives that have been underrepresented by highlighting the history of Jewish presence in Central Asia following the migration of the community.

IICAS will use historic archival documentation, digital heritage documentation, 3D heritage models, and damage mapping to identify the current condition of the houses and mahalla. Special attention will be given to the dynamic evolution and transformation of the houses. The project will generate jobs for the local team towards the achievement of the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“With an eye towards the cultural diversity of the pearl of the East – Bukhara – and its distinctive, peculiar, memorable patterns, it is impossible to conceive its cultural context without the ancient and large community of Bukharian Jews – Buxoro yahudiylari. In an era of rapid technological change, digital technologies and conservation strategies will support the preservation of the Buxoro yahudiylari heritage,” said Dr. Dmitriy Voyakin,  Director of the International Institute for Central Asian Studies.

The traditional Bukharian Jewish houses are a living exceptional example of vernacular architecture within an urban design of medieval narrow streets and a system of mahallas. They illustrate a close relation with the environment and the use of earthen materials as an answer to the harsh desert climate.

“By documenting and conserving these extraordinary examples of vernacular architecture, we ensure that the memory of Bukhara’s once-vibrant Jewish community is not forgotten,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and Chief Executive Officer of World Monuments Fund. “We are thrilled to partner with the International Institute for Central Asian Studies on this project, which serves as a powerful reminder of the many cultures that have influenced the city’s development.”

The Traditional Bukharian Jewish Houses project will be implemented in collaboration with the UNESCO Office in Tashkent, the Bukhara Branch of the Department of Cultural Heritage, and the City of Bukhara. Generous support was provided by the David Berg Foundation and World Monuments Fund.

To learn more about the project, please visit: 




About World Monuments Fund 

World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s significant cultural places to enrich lives and build mutual understanding. For more than 55 years, working at more than 700 sites in more than 100 countries, its highly skilled experts have applied proven and effective techniques to the preservation of important architectural and cultural heritage sites around the globe. Through the World Monuments Watch—a biennial, nomination-based program—WMF uses cultural heritage conservation to empower communities and improve human well-being. In partnership with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF seeks to inspire an enduring commitment to stewardship for future generations. Headquartered in New York City, the organization has offices and affiliates worldwide.


About the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS)

The International Institute for Central Asian Studies was established in 1995 as a direct outcome of the UNESCO Silk Roads Expedition. The expedition aimed to improve cooperation among researchers of Central Asia with their international colleagues as a part of a multidisciplinary study of the region. For 25 years, IICAS has been implementing research projects in the fields of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, environment, history, arts, religions, ethnography, literature, and social sciences. Located in the vibrant historic city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, IICAS fosters cooperation between its associate and corresponding members worldwide and its member states Azerbaijan, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan.




Press Contacts

Chelsea Beroza, Press & Media Relations Officer, World Monuments Fund, 

Alim Feyzulayev, Project Manager, Secretariat, IICAS,