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Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

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  • Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

    Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

    This thread will document the growing number of historical buildings in Armenia that have been seriously damaged or even destroyed as a result of "restoration", "reconstruction", "renovation" or "redevelopment". I’ll also add reports about out-and-out demolitions.

    The principal culprits seem to be Armenian oligarchs, the Armenian Church (often using oligarch money), and foreign "benefactors" (mainly wealthy diaspora Armenians, but sometimes foreign governments or ngo organisations). The protection of cultural monuments in Armenia has been reduced dramatically since independence. Hundreds of medieval churches and monasteries were given by the State to the Armenian Church, which went on to do whatever it wanted with them. And, if you have the money or the political clout, it seems that anyone can do whatever they want. Armenia is a signatory to various UNESCO and other international treaties intended to protect and conserve cultural monuments, yet Armenia now regularly ignores the requirements of those treaties.

    Restoration versus Conservation

    Restoration is the process of making alterations and repairs to a building with the intention of restoring it to its original form. Restoration is a more drastic intervention than conservation. Outrage at the damage done during ruthless "restorations" in 19th-century Europe created the first codes of conduct to limit such activities. These have progressed to the extent that today the concept of restoration is regarded as a discredited and obsolete practice that has been replaced by that of conservation.

    Conservation is the preservation of an existing building, taking great care not to alter or destroy any aspect of it. Any repairs must be restricted to essential repairs only, and must always respect the existing character of the building. Article 9 of the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (which Armenia is a signatory to) states that "the aim of restoration is to preserve and reveal the aesthetic and the historical value of the monument and is based on respect for the original building and on authentic documents". The fundamental principles of modern conservation are minimal intervention and conserve as found. Conservation methods must retain the authenticity of the monument, use materials sympathetic to the original structure, preserve important original fabric, and apply the least visual change to a structure.
    Last edited by bell-the-cat; 03-25-2013, 07:31 PM.
    Plenipotentiary meow!

  • #2
    Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

    Destruction by restoration - the medieval bridge at Garni



    A crowd of people gathered outside the Ministry of Culture on Friday,
    protesting against the reconstruction of the bridge of Garni.

    The activists claimed that the medieval construction (11th-13th
    centuries) had lost it one time historical-cultural value over
    this period.

    Speaking to, one of the protesters, Argishti Kiviryan,
    they accuse the Ministry of contributing to the cultural monument's

    "The Ministry is trying to justify its unlawfulness, saying that this
    kind of reconstruction is possible. But once you put together an old
    photograph with a picture featuring the [bridge's] present-day image
    it will be enough even for a person with an elementary logic to see
    that the construction has been destroyed," he said.

    Gor Hakobyan, another protester, said new polished stones and tiles
    have caused the bridge to lose its spiritual value.

    "It no longer has any value, or even if it does, it has turned into
    a completely different monument. We demand an open public account,"
    he said, adding that they seek in that way to prevent more such cases
    in future.

    In letter sent to the Ministry on Monday the activist demanded an
    explanation for the existing situation.

    Today they submitted the replies to Vladmir Poghosyan, the head of the
    Historical-Environment and Historical-Cultural Museum-Reserves Service,
    and Dorvard Arushanyan, the head of the Monument Reconstruction
    department. Hakobyan promised to meet relevant officials at the
    ministry after receiving a conclusion and forming an alternative

    Video of the protest
    Plenipotentiary meow!


    • #3
      Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

      Restoration of medieval bridge of Garni causes displeasure of activists

      A group of citizens held a protest action in front of the building of Culture Ministry today demanding explanations concerning recent restoration of the medieval
      Garni bridge.

      As architect Marina Parazyan told ArmInfo correspondent, activists are confident that after restoration the bridge lost its cultural value, and has turned from an ancient construction into a modern bridge. She said that old stones have found themselves "sealed up" in concrete and modern coat. For this reason, an attempt to return an initial image to the bridge may be destructive for it, she said.

      "At present our key task is to draw careful attention to the rest projects on restoration of ancient monuments. As for the Garni bridge, here transparency of the process was not provided. For this reason, we scare repetition of similar scenario when restoring other monuments", - she said.

      To note, Garni bridge was built in XI-XIII centuries.

      The restoration/destruction was paid for by the American Embassy.

      US to fund restoration of Garni Medieval Bridge

      The U.S. Embassy in Armenia marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) on November 2, 2011 at the Aram Khachaturyan House Museum in Yerevan.

      During the celebration, the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern and Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan took part in a ceremonial signing for the restoration of the Garni Medieval Bridge, the 2011 AFCP initiative. The $110,000 U.S.-funded Garni Medieval Bridge project is the largest AFCP project received by Armenia. Guests, government officials, and Armenia's past AFCP project recipients recognized the role of the fund in preserving Armenia's cultural legacy and a shared world heritage.

      Since its approval by the U.S. Congress in the fall of 2000, the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation has funded more than 640 cultural preservation projects in over 100 countries, representing a contribution of nearly $26 million towards the preservation of cultural heritage worldwide.

      The Fund supports a wide range of projects that work to preserve cultural heritage including the restoration of historic buildings, assessment and conservation of museum collections, archaeological site preservation, documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques, improved storage conditions for archives and manuscripts, and documentation of indigenous languages.

      Medieval bridge of Garni will be put in operation in autumn

      YEREVAN, AUGUST 10, ARMENPRESS: The bridge of Garni built in the 11th century will be put in operation in autumn. The restoration works have started since July 2 and the first stage will be finished on August 15. The responsible persons of Construction Company assure that it will be fully ready even earlier of planned term, earlier than November. The basis of reconstruction of this historical and cultural monument was put in September of last year by the memorandum “Keeping cultural values by ambassadors” signed by Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan and ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of USA to Armenia John Heffern. American embassy for that purpose provided 110 000 US dollars. Armenpress was informed that representatives of US embassy in Armenia and ministry of culture visited Garni, got acquainted in place with the reconstruction works.

      Attache of the department of public relations of US embassy in Armenia Sean O’Harra assured that Armenia is a blessed country as it has many historical and cultural values which must be kept. “The monument which exists for already 800 years will be steady at least for 800 more years. This monument from one side is a bridge between Armenia and USA and from the other side between the past and future of Armenia” he mentioned. The representative of the embassy considered the process of the works satisfactory

      And here is Ambassador Heffern boasting of "Loving that cultural work"
      Last edited by bell-the-cat; 03-25-2013, 07:28 PM.
      Plenipotentiary meow!


      • #4
        Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

        One that got away (for now)

        But best see it soon, before it too is destroyed.

        Derelict Tziranavor Church Not Slated for Renovation
        Plenipotentiary meow!


        • #5
          Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

          Destruction by "restoration" - the famous Ozdun basilica

          Undertaken by the fascistic "Hovhannes Imastaser Catholicos Odznetsi" foundation

          Monastery in Odzun to be restored

          According to an agreement signed between the RA Ministry of Culture, the Armenian Apostolic Church and the “Hovhannes Imastaser Catholicos Odznetsi” Benevolent Foundation, a contest has been declared for the restoration of the St. Mary Church in Odzun village.

          As reported by the RA Ministry of Culture, the applications will be accepted until April 17. The order is from the “Hovhannes Imastaser Catholicos Odznetsi” Benevolent Foundation.

          It was initially envisaged to provide funding for the restoration with the state budget, but those supporting the preservation of historical and cultural heritage expressed commitment to solve the issue and established the “Hovhannes Imastaser Catholicos Odznetsi” Benevolent Foundation.

          The project includes the restoration of the church, even though there are also issues related to renovating the surrounding area and restoring highly valuable monuments near the church. Based on preliminary evaluation, it will take up to 3-4 years to restore the church, but there are also unpredictable issues. The monastery in Odzun has existed for nearly 1,500 years and may have various surprises in store for restorers.

          The main goal of the project is not to keep up with the schedule, but provide high-quality restoration of the monastery.
          Experts say such activities don’t envisage freedom to create. The restorers must act in accordance with scientifically substantiated projects.
          Last edited by bell-the-cat; 04-10-2013, 08:17 PM.
          Plenipotentiary meow!


          • #6
            Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

            Originally posted by bell-the-cat View Post
            Destruction by restoration - the medieval bridge at Garni


            Article with pictures of the "before" and "after".

            Plenipotentiary meow!


            • #7
              Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

              When does a construction that is now 99% modern cease being a "7th-12th century" church?

              Plenipotentiary meow!


              • #8
                Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

                Massive destruction at the famous Haghartsin monastery. This one was apparently paid for by Islamists!


                The halls have lost their original stone roofing and they have been replaced by factory-made tiles. The original roofing on the domes of the smaller churches also seems to have gone. Some sort of large new structure appears to be being constructed.

                And the priestly parasites must need powerful air conditioning really badly based on the size of those metal ducts (they must sweat a lot in those black robes). Of course, blocking the original roof openings with sheets of plate glass doesn't help with ventilation.
                Last edited by bell-the-cat; 05-29-2013, 01:54 PM. Reason: Edited to remove links to photos with fake copyright claim - alternative links added
                Plenipotentiary meow!


                • #9
                  Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

                  What a shame... Initially I was angry that our historical structures in other present day countries were being destroyed either outright or under the guise of "restoration", but it's far more sad that it's happening at the hands of the Armenian government too.

                  What's at the root here? Ignorance? Cost? Why are they projects being bungled?
                  Is safety a concern in some cases? For instance, with the Garni bridge? Did they make that case at all about it being a functional bridge?
                  [COLOR=#4b0082][B][SIZE=4][FONT=trebuchet ms]“If you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.”
                  -Henry Ford[/FONT][/SIZE][/B][/COLOR]


                  • #10
                    Re: Destruction by "Restoration" – Armenia's Ancient Monuments in Peril

                    Originally posted by bell-the-cat View Post
                    Massive destruction at the famous Haghartsin monastery. This one was apparently paid for by Islamists!
                    Why is the "ruler" of Sharjah paying for this anyway?

                    (Also, the redesigned Flickr is unsightly).