Rebuilding and restoring historical architecture (Part III) 171

Marius Vyšniauskas, 2016-11-04

In brief: The last part of the series on rebuilding and restoring historical architecture deals with the problems of rebuilding Western and Eastern European architectural heritage in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Nothing cripples architecture more than political upheaval. The Paris received the biggest blow during the Commune period (18th of March - 28th of May, 1871) when the Tuileries Palace was burned. After the commune's collapse, the leadership was flooded with petitions demanding to restore the complex, but, in spite the 1876 reconstruction plans nothing was happening. Finally, after much hesitation the Chamber of Deputies decided to demolish the ruins of Tuileries Palace in 1879 (it was completed in 1883).

Warsaw King's Palace had a darker fate. In 1939, Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) gave the order to blow the building up. Foreseeing the disaster, Polish museologists secretly smuggled many decor elements of the palace. After the war, these saved valuables became the basis for reconstruction and now form a part of castle's interior.

The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania was demolished under the order of the tsarist government in 1799–1801 (it has been a den of beggars since the 18th century). The idea of restoring the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, for the first time was expressed in 1983. Then, a competition was announced to design the National gallery building in the Old Town area.

Comparing the project of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania in Vilnius with the Western Europe we are faced with a serious issue, because we cannot call this building "the nation's palace." Rather, it is a one man's ambition (Algirdas Brazauskas 1932–2010) to leave his artificial mark in history, for example, it was suggested to exhibit his hunting trophies, amber collections and etc. in the palace.

The only original objects in the palace are the ground floor basement ruins, realistically restored wall of palace’s facade that was immortalized in the 18th century sketches and St. Casimir’s Chapel balcony floor that led to the Palace. Everything else is an interpretation and that is recognized by the researchers themselves.

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