Peasants with Cattle by a Ruined Aqueduct
Nicolaes Berchem, c. 1658
Oil on wood
47.1 × 38.7 cm, 18.5 × 15.2 in
National Gallery, London

Ury House, Aberdeenshire ruined by the removal the roof after the second world war to avoid taxation.

Ruins is a term used to describe the remains of man-made architecture: structures that were at one time complete but which have either been deliberately destroyed or fallen into a state of disrepair over time due to the action of weathering and lack of maintenance.

There are famous ruins all over the world, from ancient sites in Judea to ancient Greek and Roman sites in the Mediterranean Sea, and Incan sites in Peru. Ruins can be fortifications, places of worship, or remnants of houses, storehouses, or other buildings, or even entire cities and towns. Ruins are important for the studying of the past, in particular history and archaeology. There are also substantial ruins in modern cities such as Rome and Athens.

Ruins often occur as a result of natural disaster, war or other forms of depopulation. Numerous great historic buildings in Europe have fallen into ruin from taxation policies, which required all structures with roofs to pay substantial taxes. This outcome occurred for Fetteresso Castle and Slains Castle in Scotland, although the former is since restored. Ruins can also derive from official decrees of government, such as the case of Beverston Castle, where the English parliament ordered significant destruction of the castle to prevent it being used by the opposition Royalists. European cities were in ruins after World War II, especially Berlin, London, Coventry and Dresden.

Ruins are often romanticized in literature, art and film, and often provide a backdrop for other forms of decline or decay. For example, the ruined Dunnottar Castle in Scotland was used for filming of Hamlet starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close, while the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle in England inspired Turner to create several paintings.

Relics of Steel and Wooden Towers

As a rule, towers built of steel are dismantled, when not used any more, because their construction can be either rebuilt on a new site or if state of construction does not allow a direct reuse, the metal can be recycled economically. However sometimes tower basements remain, because their removal can sometimes be expensive. One example of such a basement is the basement of the former radio mast of Deutschlandsender Herzberg/Elster.

The basements of large wooden towers such as transmitter Ismaning may also be left behind, because removing them would be difficult.

External Links

* Christopher Woodward, In Ruins (London: Vintage, 2002) [1]
* Tim Edensor, Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality (London: Berg, [2005)[2]]
* Robert Ginsberg, The Aesthetics of Ruins (New York/Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004) [3]
* Bibliography: Loss, Decay, Ending of Place [4]

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