Art makes populations immortal.
Art is something that speaks words, by staying silent through the passage of centuries.
The great monuments of all countries are like big and wise men, that perpetuate history thanks to their existence.
They are symbols, priceless masterpieces.
But, despite having the capacity to make things immortal, they are not immortal themselves. Sometimes people of all around the world are forced to see great and important monuments falling apart, due to the wrath of Mother Nature or to the negligence of others.
Taking inspiration from the tragical fire of the Notre-Dame Cathedral, happened on 15 April, this article aims at presenting similar, yet not well known, facts.
In 1997 the Italian regions of Umbria and Marche were hit by a system of earthquakes, which worst shocks occurred on the 26thof September. On the same day, the Basilica of Saint Francesco in Assisi, Umbria, was harshly damaged; in particular the vault of the upper cathedral fell down in two points, shattering more than 130 square metres of medieval frescos, realized by Giotto and Cimabue. The Basilica stayed closed until 1999, but the recovery and the reconstruction processes actually ended only in 2001 when the last pieces of frescos, that right after the earthquake were more than 300.000, were relocated in the right spots.
This shows how fragile is the equilibrium of such centenary constructions, that seem to be as old as the world itself, but also the critical importance of preserving them and prevent similar situations, thanks to periodical checks and works of strengthening of the structures.
Losing a piece of history due to a natural disaster is a tragical event, but when it happens due to a major human fault, it becomes only a source of indescribable shame. National governments and organizations should protect these historical treasures no matter what, but nowadays the endangered sites are far too many.
The program7 Endangered, launched for the first time in 2013 in co-operation with the European Investment Bank, every year creates a list of the most endangered European cultural and historical sites; it is not a funding program, but rather a way to catch and catalyse people’s attention on the matter.
Between the nominations of 2018 there were the Constanza Casinòin Romania and Prehistorical sites of rupestrian art in the Cadice provincein Spain.
The first one is a beautiful and unique example of Art Nouveau architecture, realized by Daniel Renard, and built sheer on the Dead Sea. The building has been completely abandoned and the bad weather has disrupted almost all the windows; being so near to the sea, the greatest risk for it is the rust, that is slowly eating all its metallic structural components.
The second one is an exceptional site that hosts more than 300 caves, containing paintings and engravings from a range of time of almost 20 thousand years; bad maintenance and uncontrolled acts of vandalism are seriously endangering its preservation.
Initiatives like this should be encouraged and spread all over the world, in order to raise awareness and make people react to injustices and crimes of this kind.
Without our past we are no one.
Without our art and history we are no one.