Time Regained; a Historical Perspective on Cultural Sites and Monuments

By Michell, George | UNESCO Courier, August 1988 | Go to article overview

Time Regained; a Historical Perspective on Cultural Sites and Monuments


Michell, George, UNESCO Courier


WHILE the cultural sites of the World Heritage List may be documented, analysed, catalogued and subjected to the hopefully beneficial processes of restoration, they must never be divorced from the destiny of man. These sites are permanent records of human endeavour, the material artefacts of world history. Here are displayed the deeds of mankind, from the noble and the spiritual to the heroic and the tragic. The cultural sites are visible demonstrations of the survival of the

past into the present era. The World Hertitage Convention is a valid attempt to recognize the unique qualities of this heritage and

safeguard its survival into the future.

Many of the great monuments and cities of the past, whether ruined or still in use today, are inextricably bound up with the careers of powerful individuals. Only emperors and princes, military commanders and generals, and popes and bishops could command the considerable economic and artistic resources that were essential for the erection of large-scale monuments, let alone the laying out of the public spaces and ensembles of buildings required for a city centre. Though many of the cultural sites on the World Heritage List have obviously been identified for the aesthetic quality of their architectural or urban character, their historical dimensions must never be forgotten.

The royal individuals who built splendid residences for themselves were sometimes visionaries. Their architectural legacy is often imposing and inspiring; sometimes it is intended to intimidate. Architecture here is truly in the service of mundane purposes. This is true of many of the palaces identified in the World Heritage List, from those of the Ming emperors in China, and the Mughals at Fatehpur Sikri in India, to the chateaux of the French kings at Chambord, Fontainebleau and Versailles, or the great houses of the English lords as at Blenheim. No less concerned with the expression of power are the ceremonial centres at Persepolis in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Teotihuacin in Mexico and Hampi in India, or the Great Wall of China and the fortifications of King Edward I at Gwynedd in Wales.

Governing nations in almost all periods of world history were concerned to develop an architecture based on power. Their military, administrative, judicial and ceremonial constructions are reminders of past ambitions, sometimes in eras of enlightenment, at other times in eras of oppression, but almost always in periods of intended glory. The ensembles of buildings that form the cores of such historic cities as Istanbul in Turkey, Aleppo in the Syrian Arab Republic and Fez in Morocco, for example, are testaments to continuous state patronage of urban architecture over lmany centuries. The same is true for the European cities of Toledo, Florence, Budapest or Cracow, in addition to Venice with its splendid lagoons which have miraculously isolated the city from the threats of motorized traffic.

Some rulers were of foreign origin and the architecture that they sponsored made intentional reference to other places and periods. The World Heritage List includes sites of colonial splendour such as the cities of Oaxaca in Mexico, Cuzco in Peru, Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, and even Quebec, all of which are distinctively European in style. Other urban examples have until recent years been overlooked by modern development; their buildings are sometimes described as traditional, meaning that they are identified with an unchanging social and cultural environment, even if this is more imagined than historically true. Thus the old walled cities of Shibam in Democratic Yemen, Esfahan in the Islamic Republic of Iran, or Cairo in Egypt are not merely, repositories of domestic and civic monuments of undeniable qualities, they are also testaments to a past way of life that is fast disappearing. Such buildings cannot be di vorced front the lives of their inhabitants, even if these I'ves have inevitably become transformed in the late twentieth century. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Time Regained; a Historical Perspective on Cultural Sites and Monuments
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.