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Europe is currently one big construction zone

Europe is currently one big construction zone

Old May 31st, 2002, 09:31 AM
  #1  
Steve Mueller
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Europe is currently one big construction zone


My wife and I just returned from Germany, Luxembourg and Alsace and were surprised at just how many historic structures were under renovation. We assumed that, because we are well into 2002, all the millenia-inspired restoration would be complete. In fact, the disruptions, inaccessibility and general unattractiveness associated with such renovation efforts, were noticeably worse than our trips in 1998 and 2000.

The biggest disappointment was the cathedral in Strasbourg, which is still spectacular despite the fact that the entire spire is covered in scaffolding and ugly green netting. Although the viewing platform is still accessible, visitors are restricted to the central portion. The cathedral spire in Frankfurt was also covered with scaffolding and netting.

Two years ago, the town hall spire in Rothenburg o.d.T. was covered with scaffolding and netting - well, it still was as of two weeks ago. Otherwise, Rothenburg's historic structures were relatively accessible and unmarred. Also, the smaller towns along the Romantic Road were not significantly disrupted by renovation activity.

A significant portion of Heidelberg's castle was obscured by scaffolding, and the old bridge is currently being repaved. There are large unsightly piles of concrete slabs scattered around the bridge and chain link fences along both sides.

The ubiquitous construction cranes that have come to represent an inherent part of European skylines continue to multiply. In some places, however, a new twist has been introduced - many of the larger cranes display large signs that are illuminated at night. If you have a passion (as I do) for photographing the often dramatic European skylines at night, these cranes are incredibly frustrating. I have a picture from Luxembourg city that literally has ten cranes evident (I still highly recommend Luxembourg City, however).

If you love Europe for the museums, food, etc., none of this should be a significant deterent. But if you love Europe for its beautiful and historic structures - the castles, cathedrals, bridges, etc. - the renovation projects that, at times at least, seem to be around every corner may be a bit disconcerting.

We still had a great time.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 12:11 PM
  #2  
c
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Steve, one year in Paris it seemed to be the same! The Pompidou was wrapped in scaffolds, closed,Notre Dame had things going on with scaffolds,it just made photo taking more of a challenge!
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 12:29 PM
  #3  
Tony Hughes
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Isn't that how the Pompidou is supposed to look like?
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 12:40 PM
  #4  
Patrick
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Yes, I thought the scaffolds were actually an improvement to the Pompidou. This thread reminds me of my first trip to Europe. When I got home and people asked me how it was, my standard reply was, "well, it will be great when they get it done!"
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 04:26 PM
  #5  
Capo
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Ah yes, renovations and scaffolding. You never know when you're going to run into them. On my one prior trip to Venice, in 1987, either the Basilica of San Marco or the Doge's Palace was covered in scaffolding so it was great to see them "au naturel" on our recent trip.

I'm also a bit disappointed when I'm in a French city/town right after they've drastically pruned the glorious plane trees.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 05:14 PM
  #6  
carly
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In 2000 the Pompidou wasn't wrapped in scaffolds.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 06:04 PM
  #7  
Wayne
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Well, wouldn't we all prefer to see these various buildings restored than torn down or dilapidated? Sure, it's frustrating when you want to visit such a place or take some dramatic pictures, and the construction gets in the way; but what if they were falling apart because no one fixed anything? In more than 20 years of frequent visits to Europe I have always found some places under renovation, and I always comfort myself by knowing that at some time in the future, they will be beautiful again. Yes, we might get frustrated; but would you really want it any other way?
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 07:07 PM
  #8  
Betsy
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Our observation is that the construction crane must be the national bird of Europe!
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 08:24 PM
  #9  
rand
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It has been my observation that most cathedrals in Europe were built in the 12th century and have been under constant renovation since.
 
Old May 31st, 2002, 08:35 PM
  #10  
Shannon
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It gives you a reason to go back. I lived in France in the early '70's when almost every single site in Paris was saturated in black soot, as was most of the sites in London. Paris is gorgeous now -- they were just finishing cleaning up the Notre Dame in 2000. But, geez, you should have seen the other buildings and bridges before they cleaned it up.

When I lived in London in the early '80's, Parliament was undergoing it's first massive restoration since the industrial age, and in '85, they had completely cleaned it up and were just polishing up Big Ben. Look at it now!

In 1990, in Italy, they had turned off the Trevi Fountain in Rome to clean it up. It was my first trip there, and our hotel room looked out on it. I wasn't disappointed. I was in awe that I could see the restoration in process and couldn't wait to return to see the finished product.

Look at all these places now. So much money was spent so you can see these sites in their beautiful, restored condition.

It took a hundred years and a few world wars for these sites to reach their pinnacle of decay. You don't expect them all to be restored in a day. It takes a ton of money, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to bring them back.

How can you complain for being a little bit inconvenienced with this one site or that one site when the end result will last for many years and will benefit so many, including you should you or your children be fortunate enough to return once it's restored?
 
Old Jun 1st, 2002, 07:28 AM
  #11  
Dallas
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Shannon, you go girl!
 
Old Jun 1st, 2002, 07:45 AM
  #12  
Steve Mueller
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In "awe" of a restoration process? I wish we could all be that easily impressed.

I inadvertently omitted an important fact from my initial post. In the vast majority of cases, these structures are not unstable or crumbling - the restoration projects are solely to enhance the visual appeal. Considering the fact that these cathedrals, palaces, etc. were constructed over a span of at least one thousand years, it simply strains credibility to suggest that they all have become in danger of collapse within the past decade.

Although I have no doubt that minor tuckpointing, etc. is being performed, the primary purpose is to improve the appearance of these structures (ask the locals). Of course this concept of "improvement" assumes that one perceives their more natural state as unattractive. In most instances, I don't.

By the way, the cranes are a different issue. While many of us find them annoying, they are a normal part of growth. I just wish they wouldn't light them up at night.
 
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