Wall and Fences in the 21st Century (Part 15 of 18)

Wall and Fences in the 21st Century (Part 15 of 18) April 10, 2019

[For an explanation of these 18 posts, see Part 1 published on 3/27/2019.]

Restoring Ancient Walls Around Cities and Towns

Part of Ireland declared some time ago that its still-standing medieval walls were treasures from the past that should be preserved. So, in April 2005, Ireland’s Heritage Council created the Irish Walled Town Network (IWTN). Its purpose has been to create a network of Irish cities and towns that are committed to preserving their past, especially their old walls surrounding these cities. These walls were built in medieval times mostly as protection from outsiders, especially potentially hostile invaders.

By mid-2006, the IWTN had nineteen cities and towns in Ireland as its members. Alison Harvey was the Planning and Development Officer for the Heritage Council. He explained that the purpose of IWTN was to “join together with the common objective to conserve, restore and appropriately manage Ireland’s walled towns and cities…. The potential to enhance the overall quality of life and civic pride for communities living in walled towns and to build unique and exciting tourism products is enormous.”

In 2009, Wei Ziaoan was one of China’s leading tourism planners and head of the China Alliance of Ancient Cities, Towns and Villages. He announced, “We Chinese used to look down on our own traditional things, but people’s outlooks have broadened now, and we value tradition more. . . . The government is investing more than ever before on restoring traditional cities.” For example, USA Today reported on November 24, 2009, that China was “rebuild[ing] the massive city wall that once encircled Datong, an ancient border town in northern China. Datong—a grimy, industrial city known as China’s coal capital—is undergoing a radical makeover to restore some of its grandeur from centuries past and dynasties long gone. The wall, its watchtowers and gates are rising again—not to repel invading armies as in yesteryear, but to lure an invasion of tourists.”

So, the purpose for preserving these ancient walls of cities and towns in Ireland, China, and other nations is not to provide security for their inhabitants, but to recover their past, enrich their present quality of life, and further attract tourists. But will this be their only purpose in the future if terrorism becomes an increasing problem?

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