Chinese government officials criticised over Great Wall cement “pavement” over history repairs

  • 22 September 2016

BBC News

A long, cement-like path tops the stretch of the Great Wall after repairs

The controversial repairs only came to light from photos posted on Chinese social media sites. Photo by ZHONGANZU37

Chinese officials have come under fire after repairs to the Great Wall left part of the ancient structure smoothed and resembling a concrete path.

A five-mile (8km) stretch of the Unesco world heritage site was repaired to protect it from exposure to the elements.

The ancient stone wall was repaired with materials reported to include sand and concrete.

“It really was an ugly repair job,” a local official admitted.

A photo showing the original brickwork path of the Great Wall

The original stone surface was uneven brickwork. ZHONGANZU37

Ding Hui, the head of the Liaoning Provincial Antiquities Bureau, said the repairs to the 635-year-old structure took place in 2014.

He said the repairs filled broken gaps, and added an additional protective layer on the top surface “like a hat”, but admitted “the surface does not look ideal”.

The repairs have only now come to light from photos posted to Chinese social media platform Weibo, where thousands of users criticised the renovation work.

A villager walks along the long, smooth path of the repaired section

A range of materials, from sand to concrete, are reported to have been used. AP photo

However, an official survey said the stretch of wall was in danger of falling apart and being washed away by the rain.

The affected section of the Great Wall lies in Suizhong county, along the border with Hebei province.

Local news outlets reported a wide variety of materials had been used, including sand, lime and cement. The work was labelled “basic and crude” by Dong Yaohui, vice-chairman of the Great Wall Studies Society.

A villager look at the old brickwork of the Great Wall

The repair work is widely seen as being out of character with the original design. AP photo

The Chinese government has specific regulations on the preservation of the Great Wall, which is crumbling in many remote locations. Some stretches have been damaged or demolished over the years.

The law for damaging a cultural relic is strict, with those found guilty facing up to 10 years in prison.

The Great Wall, a Unesco world heritage site since 1987, was built and rebuilt on a continual basis from around 220 BC until the Ming Dynasty in the 1600s, when it was the world’s largest military structure.

Designed to protect the Chinese empire from northern invasions, it once stretched 20,000km (12,400 miles).

Great botched repairs of our time

Several museum employees in Egypt endure a hairy time after the beard on the burial mask of the pharaoh, Tutankhamun, comes unstuck and is rather too hastily glued back on. The authorities are not amused.

Cecilia Gimenez: “Everybody who came into the church could see I was painting”

Media captionCecilia Gimenez: “Everybody who came into the church could see I was painting”

An elderly parishioner carries out an alarming restoration of a prized Jesus Christ fresco in a church near Zaragoza in Spain. Bizarrely, the monkey-like do-over has brought in tens of thousands of admiring pilgrims since its creation in 2012, helping to ease the town’s recession. It’s a miracle.

Ecce Homo (Martínez and Giménez, Borja),_Borja)

Not so botched, perhaps. Although some criticised the repair of Spain’s 9th Century Matrera Castle, saying it had been turned into a 1960s multi-storey car park, the architect had the last laugh as he walked off with the architecture and preservation prize at the Architizer A+ awards.

Then there are these embarrassing miscalculations through the ages, from Sweden’s Vasa warship to London’s Millennium Bridge.

Great miscalculations: The French railway error and 10 others


Hilarious botched fresco is helping a town survive a recession

Zachary Kussin
New York Post

IT WAS an unholy mistake — that became one town’s miracle.

In 2012, an amateur art restorer in the small village of Borja, Spain, turned her attention to a fresco of Jesus Christ called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”).

Alas, Cecilia Giménez’s “fix” rendered the face of Jesus — painted in 1930 by Elías García Martínez — wholly unrecognisable. Ecce Homo 2.0 became a global laughing-stock, compared to a blurry potato and a monkey.

More than 160,000 visitors have flocked to the Sanctuary of Mercy church since the botched restoration, scooping up “Ecce Homo” souvenirs from pens ($AU3) to mugs ($AU9) to wine featuring Jesus’ tragically altered face on the label (approximately $AU5 to $14 a bottle).

The global curiosity has led to a boom in tourism that’s allowed restaurants and museums in Borja, population 5000, to remain stable during Spain’s crippling recession.

“The level of these numbers (of tourists) … has never happened before,” says Elena Aznar Martinez, who handles marketing for “Ecce Homo”.

“The visitors recognise me,” Giménez, 85, an amateur painter who had performed multiple church-sanctioned renovations of “Ecce Homo” over the years, tells The Post.


The original Ecce Homo artwork from 1930 by Elías García Martínez on the left, and Cecilia Giménez’s globally mocked restoration on the right. Picture: AP Photo/Centro de Estudios Borjanos, File

The original Ecce Homo artwork from 1930 by Elías García Martínez on the left, and Cecilia Giménez’s globally mocked restoration on the right. Picture: AP Photo/Centro de Estudios Borjanos, FileSource:AP

“They take photos with (the painting) and with me … even though I tell them, ‘My children, I’m not an important person’.”

Visitors are charged 1 euro ($AU1.50) per person to enter the church for viewing, and all proceeds go to a church-affiliated nursing home.


Fifty-one per cent of the proceeds from souvenir sales go to the nursing home, while 49 per cent go to Giménez, who uses the money to care for her 56-year-old son, José Antonio, who has cerebral palsy.

“When news broke (of “Ecce Homo”), I felt humiliated,” says Giménez.

She claims she had only begun a part of the restoration before leaving on a vacation and intended to finish it upon her return, but was stopped by the church.

The painting’s since been found impossible to restore from its current state. At one point, García Martínez’s horrified heirs had threatened to sue Giménez for destroying the painting, but that never happened.

On Wednesday, a museum dedicated to the fresco will open. And in August, a comic opera entitled “Behold the Man” will debut in Borja, and its creators — Americans Andrew Flack and Paul Fowler — hope it becomes an annual event.

“When I saw this photograph of (Giménez) in the paper, I felt so bad for her,” says Flack, who’s travelled twice to Borja and seen the painting.

“I thought this had all the operatic qualities: faith, redemption and revenge.”

All the attention has even changed Giménez’s outlook.

“I’ve gone to a psychiatrist and I take medication to feel a bit better,” she says. “Now, I look (at the painting and think,) ‘It’s OK, you’re not that ugly’,” Giménez says.

“I hold it so dear — to the point that I see him as handsome!”



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One Response to “Chinese government officials criticised over Great Wall cement “pavement” over history repairs”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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