UNESCO Restoration at Bassae: ugly and costly

A GdA reader reports a UNESCO fiasco in a place as poetic as Arcadia:

bassae Dario Del Bufalo

Dear Mr Del Bufalo,                

I fully agree with you about damage done by UNESCO. The fiasco that they are carrying out with the “restoration” work on the Temple of Bassae in Arcadia has left me bewildered. A circensian shelter in the Arcadian mountains (and I painfully remember the shelters in Lalibela, Ethiopia), with enormous concrete plinths so close to the ancient (and delicate) base (just imagine the drilling vibrations to build the casting), the criminal reintegration both for the visual aspect and for the methods used (in image no. 3012, one can clearly see the hammering of the original block to adapt it to the reintegration) and the squalid, peripheral-type warehouses situated only 50 mt. from the temple, etc. etc. Of course, they then say that it’s all temporary and will be removed once the restoration has been completed, when they’ll have discovered how to conserve the monument differently.

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,

Piervaleriano Angelini.


Dear Mr Angelini,

Thank you for the wonderful photographic contribution in your report on another UNESCO fiasco that I didn’t know about… Indeed, at Bassae they are rebuilding using blocks that have been “polluted” by poorly cut pieces of modern limestone and which have an unpatinated colour, disturbing the whole monument and the poetic landscape of Arcadia..!

Why is it necessary to rebuild in this senseless and mistaken way..? They could have used the original blocks and those that were too broken up, could have been left on site. But the worst thing is that in such a poetic place – as it was before the UNESCO intervention (see the above b/w photo) – they have built these ugly warehouses (and we know that they will remain there..!) and that huge tent, with reinforced concrete foundations that no one will remove..! Spending a lot of our money, in vain and causing serious damage..!

They have even mechanically chiselled and scraped away at an original block (see the last photo below) so that it adheres better to the ugly modern block in the recovery. This erroneous interpretation of the theory of restoration is an international slippery slope that is impossible to stop, because in doing such a reintegration and in rebuilding, more money is spent and thus there are more interests at stake and therefore more corruption. Instead, if a restoration had been carried out that respected the materials, styles and colours, less money would have been spent and therefore less bribes. What a pity…

Thank you.

Dario Del Bufalo

Il Giornale dell’Arte
bassae 2 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3009
bassae 1 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3018bassae 3 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3014bassae 4 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3015
bassae 7 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3003
bassae 6 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3002
bassae 8 Dario Del Bufalo UNESCO IMG_3012

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