Europe is taking a page from the U.S. playbook. “Local governments, desperate to find a way to preserve… (historic) sites before it is too late,” the Washington Post reports, “are making up for budget shortfalls by hanging ads, selling usage rights and, in some cases, putting the structures themselves on the market.”
In France, the caretakers of Versailles have agreed to let two hotels open on the palace grounds. In Spain, planners approved the construction of an office tower in the historic city center of Seville near the Gothic cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried, ignoring threats from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to disqualify the city as a World Heritage site if the project proceeded.
The restoration of the Colosseum in Rome was supposed to start in March but work was stopped after a cultural preservation group revealed that what the owner of luxury handbag maker Tod’s actually came with strings was portraying as a generous gift. He gets exclusive rights to use the image of the Colosseum on his products.
Venice’s postcard-perfect views are being sacrificed to get corporate money. In one case, a mammoth Coca-Cola ad was erected on a historic bridge, obscuring the entire structure.
The Post observes, “On a recent weekday, British tourists David and Janice Barlow were aboard a boat on Venice’s Grand Canal, struggling to take a picture of the Piazza San Marco. They kept angling their cameras this way and that, trying to get a shot that did not include the multi-story Pandora jewelry ad on the building that used to house the old mint. They failed.”