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Monument protection - concept and history

In many cases, these are historically significant testimonies that play a key role in the development of the entire country or a region. Monument protection thus pursues the dedicated goal of maintaining a vivid image of past eras and architectural styles. Well-preserved monuments show us where and how people used to live.

Legal foundations

The legal framework in Germany is regulated by the law on monuments. This is a matter of federal state sovereignty, so that each federal state has formulated its own legal basis with partly differing details. The paragraphs indicate which buildings are listed and which structural measures are legally permissible in the context of professional restoration. In this respect, the protection of historical monuments is a complex matter that requires sound specialist knowledge. This is the most important reason why only trained restorers should be commissioned with permitted work relating to the protection of monuments. Each country in Europe and worldwide has its own monument law, so cross-border projects should definitely be placed in experienced hands.

Definition of the terms monument protection and monument preservation

Mistakenly, the terms monument protection and monument preservation are considered synonyms, but this does not correspond to reality. The preservation of monuments is outlined in more detail in Section 22 of the Monument Protection Act. Simplified, but quite accurate, it can be stated that monument preservation summarizes advisory and promotional activities of monument authorities. Under discussion are all measures that can serve the preservation of monuments. The protection of monuments represents the legal side of the measures: The legal basis is intended to ensure that monument preservation can be guaranteed. In this respect, supervisory authorities are concerned with monitoring the repair and limited alterability of monuments. Restorers take on the tackling part in the form of measures for the preservation of monuments. In doing so, however, they must consistently adhere to the regulations for the protection of historical monuments. This provides the legal framework for their work.

Brief outline of the historical background

The idea of organized monument preservation is still relatively young. It goes back to Karl Friedrich Schinkel, a Prussian building official. His concept from the early 19th century was directed at medieval buildings such as monasteries, churches and manor houses. However, the dawn of the modern era of historic preservation as we know it today was not until 1975: the 'European Heritage Year' was translated into German as'Jahr des Denkmalschutzes' (Year of Historic Preservation) and duly celebrated. Rapidly advancing urban development, to which many historic buildings/villas fell victim, forced preservation efforts. In order to preserve the historic, one state after another passed a monument protection law. Numerous resolutions were also passed in the GDR. Essentially, regulations were created that are still valid today. The efforts are visibly worthwhile, because Germany can boast a rich architectural heritage. Today, more than 1 million buildings in Germany are listed as historic monuments.

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