Monuments as memorials

Renaissance protection focused initially on ancient monuments containing Latin inscriptions due to their value as a document; subsequently such documentary value was extended to objects and structures without an inscription considering their component material as document. In Rome, the first 'list of protected monuments' consisted of the publication of the inscribed texts. The principal meaning of such monuments was in their being a memorial that recalled antiquity as a lesson to be learnt from for the sake of humanity and contemporary design. Moreover, monuments were conceived with political-patriotic connections to Christian martyrs and the history of the church, as well as being a 'status symbol' (to use a modern expression). At the same time, there emerged the artistic significance of ancient sculptures or architectural monuments, and the consequent trend to restore the aesthetic integrity, the 'idea' of the work of art, for use as public focal points or as ornaments in private residences.

Figure 10.3 Munich triumphal arch, the Siegestor by Friedrich von Gärtner, where one side was left as a fragment with an inscription about the new meaning

The dialectic between the political and the artistic significance of an ancient monument obtained a new meaning with the historical consciousness of the eighteenth century, and continued to dominate the policies of safeguarding monuments. Later, reading and interpreting the message was associated with the field of philology and linguistics (Boito). In modern practice, this resulted in solutions such as the restoration of the Arch of Titus, where the aesthetic unity of the monument was re-integrated in order to allow the appreciation of the artistic unity, while differentiating new material from old in order to emphasize the historicity of the original document.

Still remaining within the field of a 'memorial', there are cases where the purpose of modern treatment has not been the preservation of the original message, but to redefine an existing monument or building and associating it with a new political or patriotic value. In many cases, such an intent has been reflected in the definition of particular historic buildings as national monuments, and their consequent restoration to represent a significant moment in the nation's history, such as Windsor Castle, Cologne Cathedral, Pierrefonds Castle. Going further, the idea of a national monument can also be associated with the image of a historic structure that has been lost, and is rebuilt with a new signifi cance. It has resulted in full reconstructions, such as the Campanile of San Marco in Venice, as well as several sites destroyed during the Second World War - including the centre of Warsaw, but also the centre of Hildesheim in the 1980s and the Frauenkirche of Dresden in the 1990s. To the same category can be added the ruins of Babylon in Iraq, reconstructed exnovo principally in the 1980s.

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