Al Salt Nomination File for the World Heritage- Al Salt “The Place of Tolerance and Urban Hospitality”
Client : Al Salt City Development- Projects Unit
Location : Al Salt- Jordan
Year : 2018- 2021
As-Salt historic urban core represents an exceptional example of a living heritage and of a historic urban landscape with a strong link between its intangible attributes (tolerance and cohabitations among Muslim and Christian communities; urban hospitality; and socio-urban welfare system); and tangible attributes (significant architecture and urban morphology) during a particular period in the development of the city known as the Golden Age ranging from the 1860s to the middle of the 1920s. The local cultural traits and practices represent a way of life that emerged out of a fusion between tribal/rural and migrating bourgeois merchants drawn to As-Salt from nearby Levantine cities of Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon after the Ottomans extended their rule, insured security, and implemented municipal and constitutional reforms in this Ottoman southern frontier city.
The significant architecture within the historic city core emerged as a result of cultural exchange and circulation, by migrating urban bourgeois merchants, of building types of early-modern vernacular architecture (Central Hallway 3-Bay House) and its skilful adaptation to local contexts and urban morphology by exceptional skilful local and migrating master builders producing a mix of vernacular regional and high-class architecture. Another significant attribute of the city is its unique urban typology and morphology with its steep folded topography producing a dense urban fabric where residential neighbourhoods on the city’s slopes are connected to the public spaces and streets on the lower slopes through a web of stairs, alleyways and nodes. This urban reality supports an exceptional socio-urban welfare system facilitated by the dense urban morphology resulting in a high degree of social and religious spatial integration and support between neighbours of different ethnicities and sects. The city of As-Salt most significant attribute is the prevailing of tolerance, cohabitation and support between Muslim and Christian communities of the city transcending religions and ethnicities and producing a sense of community and belonging to a shared space. In addition, the city is unique for offering to the rest of the world a unique system of urban hospitality taking the form of Madafas (places where each family hosts guests and visitors) resulting from the fusion between tribal traditions and urban merchants’ social norms.