Rebuilding and restoring historical architecture (Part I) 0

Marius Vyšniauskas, 2016-09-05

In brief: The Venice Charter that supervises the protection of historical monuments defines restoration as a specific operation which aims to preserve and reveal the monument’s aesthetic and historic value; it has to be based on natural material and authentic documents. However, in reality, the work faces many obstacles. In the series of three articles, focusing on royal residences' restoration in Lithuania and the world, we will analyze not only the problems that arise in restoring heritage, but will also discuss the positive examples.


In recent decades the most surprising negligence of restorers comes from Spain, where, in order to attract more tourists, original details are being overshadowed by modernity. For instance, in 2002 a developer in Madrid demolished the city's patron St. Isidore's house. And although the architect Ramon Andrada claimed that the building was in an emergency condition, the municipal government pleaded they did not give the permit for its demolition.

As for the architectural heritage's state in the world, very little attention is paid to Asia, but it is here that the grand projects have been taking place recently. During the Great Leap Forward (1959–1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) in China, countless historical relics were destroyed. This was driven by the new ideology which maintained that everything that came before symbolizes the old feudal thinking. Thus, society not only ravaged the artifacts, but also looted museums and private collections.

In our country, the number of unattended and run-down manors and churches is increasing and their reconstruction plans disappear in the labyrinths of bureaucracy. In addition to that, quite often the restoration of heritage is left to the amateurs' imagination. In general, in any Western country, the questions of historical architecture would be considered a priority, however in Lithuania this receives almost no attention. The last statement is best illustrated by Lentvaris manor. The ministry of Culture does not want to take responsibility for its renovation and encourages to transfer it to the private sector.


On the other hand, Lithuania also has some great examples of old architecture restoration, for example Trakai Island Castle. Although many young people and tourists of today naively imagine that the castle is the original, the photographs of 19th-20th centuries reveal its previous condition. Castle's extensive restoration and conservation began in the Soviet period. Scientific restorative production workshop was established in 1950; it started the examination, restoration and conservation of the castle. After almost a decade, the analysis of more than a 150-year old design was completed and the main building was restored.

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