Cultural heritage: Is austerity eating at European history?
6 December 2010
With culture ministries forced to slash spending, one of the victims of pan-European austerity budgets is Europe's cultural heritage. But if we want to save Pompeii and other priceless sites and monuments, then heritage policy, and the way money is spent, might be in need of a shake-up.
The 12th-century arched doorway is about all that remains intact of the church of Saint Peter at Becerril del Campo, in the central Spanish province of Palencia.
The doors themselves are gone. The roof has largely disappeared. Water floods in and the inside is full of rubbish. "Deterioration of its nave increases daily, virtually all the baroque plasterwork and vaults having already been lost," reports the Hispania Nostra conservation group.
Across the Mediterranean on the Greek island of Kea earlier this year, a 4th-century BC tower that had been the subject of repeated warnings from the resident archaeological service partially collapsed right before the eyes of locals.
The disintegration this week of three more walls at Pompeii made news around the world. But the Castilian church and the Aegean tower are reminders that it is not the only place in southern Europe where archaeological, cultural and historical treasures are at risk.
Traditionally, lack of maintenance was the result of an imbalance between southern Europe's vast cultural patrimony and the comparatively limited resources at the disposal of its governments. Italy has more Unesco world heritage sites than any other country and Spain is next on the list. Read full article in the Guardian...