Bratislava stresses the need for tools for protecting cultural heritage against climate change
9 June 2020
The Devin Castle, before the recent reconstruction of the upper castle. Photo: P. Chromek, Foundation for Culture
The City of Bratislava invited ARCH partners and local stakeholders to a match-making meeting on 25 and 28 of May. Following a virtual visit to the cultural monuments of Bratislava most threatened by climate change, participants explored how to match the city's needs with expertise and tools that are offered by ARCH to help cities better preserve their cultural heritage.
In May 2020, heavy precipitation has been recorded in Bratislava, and it exceeds the limits of long-term normal at some monitoring stations in western Slovakia. Due to climate change, the city is experiencing rather dry spring and hot summer weather in recent years. Therefore, the humid end of this spring has been very welcome. However, from the perspective of monument protection, intense and prolonged rainfalls can pose a challenge. That is particularly the case of monuments located in situ - at Bratislava Castle or in the underground of the historic city centre. The latter are particularly sensitive. More than two thousand years ago, these monuments were part of the urban-type Celtic settlement, so-called "oppida", with many craft workshops for metal processing, pottery production or coin production.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ARCH visit to Bratislava took place online. "That's why we had to introduce archaeological monuments – such as the Celtic kiln, the Celtic mint, the St. Jacob's Chapel, the Foregate of the Fisherman's Gate, the Celtic-Roman structures at Bratislava Castle and Devín Castle – to the meeting participants through videos", explains Margaréta Musilová, an archaeologist from the Municipal Monument Preservation Institute in Bratislava. The City's chief architect Ingrid Konrad can see the benefits of the meeting mainly in approaching the actual problems of Bratislava, among which is the increased humidity of the below-ground areas of the current historic city, caused by changes in groundwater levels and more intense precipitation. Considering climate change scenarios, Bratislava needs specific measures that must be anchored in various areas of the city planning, incorporated into adaptation policy, as well as into the cultural monument protection. "In the scope of the ARCH project, experts are creating tools that should make it easier for cities to work on the protection of cultural monuments under difficult conditions caused by climate change. Bratislava will test these tools in cooperation with the Municipal Monument Preservation Institute and the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University that we have had long-term cooperation with", the chief architect specifies.
Associate Professor Eva Pauditšová from the Department of Landscape Ecology, Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Comenius University explains: "We are very pleased that in cooperation with Bratislava, the ARCH project has opened up the opportunities for close cooperation with experts in the field of monument protection and adaptation of the city to the climate change. We have started building a systematic network of measuring stations for monitoring and collecting climate data in the capital. We have also placed sensors for measuring humidity and temperature parameters in the locality of Ápponyi and Pálffy Palace, at Bratislava Castle, near the masonry in the underground of the Fisherman's Gate, and in the St. Jacob's Chapel."
Participants of the two-day virtual meeting were not only ARCH project partners, but also experts from the Bratislava City's departments, Metropolitan Institute of Bratislava, Slovak National Museum, Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, and civic organisations. The city's need for suitable tools to protect tangible cultural heritage in urban structures in the context of climate change has echoed in the discussion. "It will be crucial to set these tools well and adapt them to the real needs of users represented by cities, boroughs and partner organisations, such as museums, galleries and others that will have to make a greater effort to protect cultural heritage against the changing climate", adds Eva Streberová, a representative of the Department of the Chief Architect and the ARCH manager for Bratislava.
Bratislava: Fisherman’s Gate. Source: www.visitbratislava.com
Bratislava: St. Jacob´s Chapel and Charnel house. Source: www.visitbratislava.com
Bratislava Castle: Celto-roman structures. Source: www.culturalheritage.sk