We’ve all seen pictures or at least heard about the incredible historic buildings that placed a structure for modern architecture and building hundreds and even thousands of year ago. Often we wonder at skyscrapers and avant-garde buildings, but these impressive structures set the way for such feats of design, which wouldn’t have been possible without the knowledge developed from pre-historic experimentation. Many of these buildings have been restored over the years to keep them at their best, and for good reason. So how much do you know about these famous buildings of history and their restoration?
Built between 3000 and 2000 BC in the middle of a complex system of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments, Stonehenge is thought to have been built using animal bones as a burial site. According to a recent article by The Telegraph, although Stonehenge is undeniably impressive as one of the world’s most well known prehistoric man-made structures, it was not all impressive craftsmanship as we might expect.
Historian Professor Ronard Hutton says that the site could in fact be interpreted as “a unique and possibly failed experiment” where a group of individuals used huge stones as though they were wood and gave up halfway after a stone broke and they simply placed the two halves back on top of two vertical stones with a lintel in the middle. Inevitably, it soon fell off and was left as it was. In 1901, the first restoration of Stonehenge begun with rectifying a sloping rock and scientific digs showing how the structure worked. Stonehenge remains one of the most important heritage sites in the world and laid the foundation for human building.
Click here to read a Telegraph article about stonehenge was the work of cowboys.
The Great Sphinx
One of the most impressive sights of the ancient Egyptian cities, The Great Sphinx is a stunning structure with a length of 240 feet. This limestone statue in Giza was first built to join pyramids in the fourth dynasty about 4,500 years ago. The feature was allegedly created for the pharaoh Khafra out of 200-tonne stone blocks quarried from the enclosure of the sphinx in around 2,500 BC. From 1988 to 1998, a restoration project was put underway to restore the Sphinx to its former greatness costing $2.5 million. Now it stands among the pyramids as a marker of the amazing ancient civilisations of history preceding and often proving as impressive as modern infrastructure.
The Greek Parthenon
Possibly the most significant monument of ancient Greece, the Parthenon is situated on the Acropolis in Athens. Local Builders began work in 447 BC when Athens was at the peak of its power, and was completed by 438 BC, with decorations been added until 432 BC. It was originally built as a temple for the goddess Athena, who was believed to look over the people of Athens every day. The temple remained at its best until the 5th century AD. Although now the Parthenon is partially in ruins, it is undergoing selective restorations to maintain the hugely culturally important structure in its intended form. The monument remains a symbol of ancient Athenian democracy, ingenuity and modern western civilisation.
A favourite of tourists across the world, Rome’s Colosseum has incontrovertible importance in the modern world. This Flavian Amphitheater is the largest Roman amphitheater and was opened initially in 80 AD under the rule of emperor Vespasian’s successor, Titus. It consists of three levels and an upper gallery for Roman nobility, and was first used to display gladiatorial combat to the people of the city. The venue seated up to 80,000 spectators in the centre of Rome. Many other social spectacles were hosted in the Colosseum, such as animal hunts, mock sea battles, and classical mythological theatre. By the early medieval period, this iconic Roman structure was instead used for housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and even a Christian shrine! Italian authorities have recently given the go-ahead for an exciting restoration to prevent the building from decay.
Notre-Dame de Paris
This stunning building is one of the world’s first and greatest examples of Gothic architecture. The cathedral, begun in 1163, is a twin-towered church with huge flying buttresses supporting masonry and a steeple over the crossing. The name derives for the French for “our lady of Paris”, and the structure itself contrasts the earlier Romanesque style of Europe with features inspired by nature. In the 1790s, during the French revolution, Notre-Dame experienced desecration, suffering the destruction of much of its religious imagery. This site received two extensive restorations – one in 1845 and another in 1991, and is now at its immense splendour once again.
These amazing historic structures just show that regular and responsive maintenance is absolutely essential, alongside great design, to create buildings that will last the test of time. You may not live in the Parthenon, but your home can remain at its most beautiful with the right knowledge and experience today.