An historic center is a city’s old core. In some cities, it is confined to a handful of monuments; in others, it comprises the entire town.
Historic centers pose several distinct urban planning problems: narrow streets, unusual parceling, the preservation of archaeological sites, and so on.
This old core generally evolves over time. In some instances, a city’s historic center is limited to a few symbolic monuments; in others, it almost completely coincides with the entire agglomeration. It is a recent concept that can refer to very different historical realities.
The spatial demarcation of the historic center is simple in small towns that have changed little and where development is confined to the periphery, as in towns enclosed by walls or natural structures and towns where all constructions were built at the same time according to a single design. Demarcation is more difficult, however, in cities that developed over the course of several historical periods, in which the remains are fragmented, and where nineteenth-century neighborhoods can be legitimately considered historic.
Sources: Definition on the Muleta website + “Dictionnaire de l’urbanisme et de l’aménagement,” edited by Pierre Merlin and Françoise Choay, Presses Universitaires de France, second edition, 1996.
The capital of Estonia,Tallinn, has had its medieval historic centre classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
File translated by Michael C. Behrent – Assistant Professor – Department of History – Appalachian State University – Boone, NC 28608