How monuments serve as the core of city development and their importance

Posted by Shubham Aggarwal | Posted on July 14, 2018

Values of monuments and Their Historical Development


This article focuses on the importance of monuments and takes valuable points given by AloisRiegl, an Austrian art historian, and is considered a member of the Vienna School of Art History. He was one of the most influential figures who talked about art history as a self-sufficient academic discipline, and one of the prominent experts of formalism.


A monument in its oldest and most original sense is a work of man erected for the specific purpose of keeping particular human deeds or destinies alive and present in the consciousness of future generations. There have been different form of cities and city structures. Studies of cities have caught attention of many scholars from past century, one of such important city development model is Concentric Zone Model given by Ernest Burgess. The model kept the central business district in center which was the prominent point for an urban area. Similarly there have been other city structures which had founding development around them. One such example is to have cities built around a monument or some other unique structure.  Such “deliberate” monuments which can traced back to the earliest documented periods of human culture, have all come to a halt today. When we speak of the modern cult of monuments or historical preservation, we rarely think of monuments in deliberation, rather we think of “artistic and historic monuments”. The transformation of seeing a monument in deliberation to artistic and historic value is what that interests us when it comes to historical preservation of the monuments. “Historic value” of a monument is the representation of a particular works of art form that have existed during particular periods of human cultures and has no equivalent replacement that can be found in current modern context. When it comes to “artistic values” of a monument it correspond to any tangible, visible or audible work of man. It is essential to differentiate the both since it influences the decisions of historical preservation of monuments in a decisive way. The preservation of monuments must certainly take into account its contemporary value along with the commemorative value. Historical monuments are therefore unintentional in contrast to the deliberative monuments and as we perceive it as a modern viewer, it holds a commemorative value, which we prefer to restore as a part of historic preservation.




The Relationship of commemorative Values to the Cults of Monuments
Commemorative begins with the discussion of Age Value, which largely contributes to the modern cults of monuments.


Age Value
The modern man perceives age Value as the natural cycle of growth and decay of those erected work of man. “Signs of decay disturbs us just as a sign of new products in old works.” Monuments, which exhibit such signs of decay, receive aesthetic satisfaction not from the stasis of preservation but the continuous and unceasing cycle of change in nature. Hence while we consider age value as a commemorative value to the cults of monuments, it condemns human interference with nature’s lawful activity of disintegration on behalf of a monument’s preservation, but in principle, it condemns every effort of conservation, the restoration that is direct opposition to the conservation of monuments.

Age value has one advantage over all other ideal costs of the work of art: It claims to address everyone, to be valid for everyone without exception, addresses the emotions directly; it reveals to the viewers through the most superficial, sensory (visual) perception.


Historic Value
A monument’s historic value increases the more it remains uncorrupted and reveals its original state of creation: distortion and partial disintegration are disturbing, unwelcoming ingredients for historic value. Historic value is not concerned with the preservation of age or other changes caused by nature’s impact since the time the monument was created, rather, historic value is far more concerned with preserving the most genuine document possible for future restoration and historical research. Thus the cults of historic values are aimed at preservation of monuments in its present state.


Monuments as core of city development


Deliberate Commemorative Value

In contrast to age value, which appreciates the past for its own sake, historic value has had the tendency to select a particular moment from the developmental history of the past. And to place it before our eyes as if it were part of the present, the purpose of predetermined commemorative value is to keep a moment from becoming history, to keep it perpetually alive and present in the consciousness of future generations.


Use Value & Present Day Value

A monument in use in the present day receives a completely different treatment for its preservation, i.e., the monument has to be maintained in good condition to put it to use without endangering the lives of people using it.

Most monuments are also able to satisfy those sensory and intellectual desires of man that could as well be met by modern creations; and the potential, for which the monument was erected and on which its commemorative value is derived, is also the basis for its present-day value.


Newness Value

Newness value for a monument is obtained from the restoration of its form or color making it look like a newly created work. It works in complete contradiction to the age value, yet it appeals the majority of the masses. Thus newness value has always been the art value of the mass majority of the less educated or uneducated; whereas relative art value, at least since the beginning of more recent times, could only be evaluated by the aesthetically educated. The masses have always been pleased by everything that appears new; in works of a man, they wished to see only the creativity triumphant effect of human power and not the destructive force of nature’s power, which is hostile to work of man.



Shubham Aggarwal

About the author

Shubham Aggarwal is an Urban Planner from India working to improve the human settlements. PlanningTank is the Urban, Regional, and Rural Planning Knowledgebase which provides insight into urban and rural areas. It focuses on educating, engaging and developing the community. Read more


Please share your feedback about this blog and author