Ruins (from the Latin "Ruina") are the remains of human-made
architecture: structures that were once intact have fallen, as time
went by, into a state of partial or total disrepair, due to lack of
maintenance or deliberate acts of destruction. Natural disaster, war
and depopulation are the most common root causes, with many structures
becoming progressively derelict over time due to long-term weathering
There are famous ruins all over the world, from ancient sites in
Indus valley and
Zimbabwe in Africa, ancient
Greek, Egyptian and Roman sites in the Mediterranean basin, and Incan
and Mayan sites in the Americas.
Ruins are of great importance to
historians, archaeologists and anthropologists, whether they were once
individual fortifications, places of worship, ancient university,
houses and utility buildings, or entire villages, towns and cities.
Many ruins have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites in recent years, to
identify and preserve them as areas of outstanding value to
2 Deliberate destruction
3 Relics of steel and wooden towers
5 See also
7 External links
San Francisco earthquake of 1906:
Ruins in vicinity of Post and Grant
Ancient cities were often highly militarized and fortified defensive
settlements. In times of war they were the central focus of armed
conflict and would be sacked and ruined in defeat. Although less
central to modern conflict, vast areas of 20th-century cities such as
Warsaw, Dresden, Coventry, London and Berlin were left in ruins
following World War II, and a number of major cities around the world
– such as Beirut, Kabul, Sarajevo,
Baghdad – have been
partially or completely ruined in recent years as a result of more
Entire cities have also been ruined, and some occasionally lost
completely, to natural disasters. The ancient city of
completely lost during a volcanic eruption in the 1st century AD, its
uncovered ruins now preserved as a World Heritage Site. The city of
Lisbon was totally destroyed in 1755 by a massive earthquake and
tsunami, and the
1906 San Francisco earthquake
1906 San Francisco earthquake left the city in almost
Ruins of Whitby Abbey, England
Aberdeenshire ruined by removal of the roof after the
Second World War to avoid taxation.
Mesen Castle, former Residence of the Marquess of Lede, designed by
Giovanni Niccolò Servandoni
Apart from acts of war, some important historic buildings have fallen
victim to deliberate acts of destruction as a consequence of social,
political and economic factors. The spoliation of public monuments in
Rome was under way during the fourth century, when it was covered in
protective legislation in the Theodosian Code and in new
legislation of Majorian. and the dismantling increased once popes
were free of imperial restrictions.
Marble was still being burned
for agricultural lime in the Roman Camapgna into the nineteenth
Winston Churchill visiting the ruins of
Coventry Cathedral after the
Coventry Blitz of World War II
In Europe, many religious buildings suffered as a result of the
politics of the day. In the 16th century, the English monarch Henry
VIII set about confiscating the property of monastic institutions in a
campaign which became known as the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Many abbeys and monasteries fell into ruin when their assets,
including lead roofs, were stripped.
In the 20th century, a number of European historic buildings fell into
ruin as a result of taxation policies, which required all structures
with roofs to pay substantial property tax. The owners of these
Fetteresso Castle (now restored) and Slains Castle in
Scotland, deliberately destroyed their roofs in protest at, and
defiance of, the new taxes. Other decrees of government have had a
more direct result, such as the case of Beverston Castle, in which the
English parliament ordered significant destruction of the castle to
prevent it being used by opposition Royalists. Post-colonial Ireland
has encouraged the ruin of grand Georgian houses, symbols of British
Relics of steel and wooden towers
Ruins made-to-measure: the "Roman Ruin" in the park at Schönbrunn, c
Rust-Belt ruins of former factory, Detroit, Michigan
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 the 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
The basements of large wooden towers such as
Transmitter Ismaning may
also be left behind, because removing them would be difficult.
The contemplation of "rust belt" post-industrial ruins is in its
Hambach Castle during Hambach Festival, lithograph about
The ruins of the
Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Much of the original
marble which formed the roof and frieze now forms a pile of rubble at
In the Middle Ages Roman ruins were inconvenient impediments to modern
life, quarries for pre-shaped blocks for building projects, or marble
to be burnt for agricultural lime, and subjects for satisfying
commentaries on the triumph of Christianity and the general sense of
the world's decay, in what was assumed to be its last age, before the
Second Coming. With the Renaissance, ruins took on new roles among a
cultural elite, as examples for a consciously revived and purified
architecture all' antica, and for a new aesthetic appreciation of
their innate beauty as objects of venerable decay. The chance
discovery of Nero's
Domus Aurea at the turn of the sixteenth century,
and the early excavations at
Pompeii had marked
effects on current architectural styles, in
Raphael's Rooms at the
Vatican and in neoclassical interiors, respectively. The new sense of
historicism that accompanied neoclassicism led some artists and
designers to conceive of the modern classicising monuments of their
own day as they would one day appear as ruins.
In the period of
Romanticism ruins (mostly of castles) were frequent
object for painters, place of meetings of romantic poets, nationalist
students etc. (e.g.
Bezděz Castle in Bohemia,
Hambach Castle in
Devin Castle in Slovakia).
Ruin value (German: Ruinenwert) is the concept that a building be
designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would leave behind
aesthetically pleasing ruins that would last far longer without any
maintenance at all.
Joseph Michael Gandy
Joseph Michael Gandy completed for Sir John Soane
in 1832 an atmospheric watercolor of the architect's vast Bank of
England rotunda as a picturesquely overgrown ruin, that is an icon of
Romanticism. Ruinenwert was popularized in the 20th century by
Albert Speer while planning for the
1936 Summer Olympics
1936 Summer Olympics and published
as Die Ruinenwerttheorie ("The Theory of Ruin Value").
Ruins remain a popular subject for painting and creative
photography and are often romanticized in film and literature,
providing scenic backdrops or used as metaphors for other forms of
decline or decay. For example, the ruins of
Dunstanburgh Castle in
England inspired Turner to create several paintings; in 1989 the
Dunnottar Castle in
Scotland was used for filming of Hamlet.
Dissolution of the Monasteries
Folly, for garden ruins
^ "Nalanda University
Ruins Nalanda Travel Guide Ancient Nalanda
Site". Travel News India. 2016-10-05. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "World Heritage". whc.unesco.org.
Retrieved 19 March 2018.
^ Max weber, The city, 1958
^ http://urban.cccb.org/urbanLibrary/htmlDbDocs/A036-C.html Stephen
Graham, Postmortem City: Towards an Urban Geopolitics
^ Codex Theodosianus, xv.1.14, 1.19, 1.43.
^ Novellae maioriani, iv.1.
^ See Dale Kinney, "Spolia from the Baths of Caracalla in Sta. Maria
in Trastevere", The Art Bulletin 68.3 (September 1986):379-397)
especially "The status of Roman architectural marbles in the Middle
Ages", pp 387-90.
^ A selection chosen for their picturesque value, appear in Simon
Marsden (photos), Duncan McLaren (text), In Ruins: The Once Great
Houses of Ireland, 1980, expanded ed. 1997.
^ But see Tim Edensor, Industrial ruins: spaces, aesthetics and
^ The European career of the pleasure and pathos absorbed from the
European contemplation of ruins has been explored by Christopher
Ruins (Chatto & Windus), 2001.
^ Widely illustrated in this context, including in David Watkin, The
English Vision: the picturesque in architecture, landscape, and garden
^ PERPINYA, Núria. Ruins, Nostalgia and Ugliness. Five Romantic
perceptions of Middle Ages and a spoon of Game of Thrones and
Avant-garde oddity. Berlin: Logos Verlag. 2014
^ Simon O'Corra: France in Ruins, Buildings in Decay, London 2011
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ruins
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ruins.
Robert Ginsberg, The Aesthetics of
Ruins (New York/Amsterdam: Rodopi,
Bibliography: Loss, Decay, Ending of Place
Macaulay, Rose, The Pleasure of Ruins
Ruin Memories Project