From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Hail, solitary ruins! holy sepulchres, and silent walls! you I invoke; to you I address my prayer. While your aspect averts, with secret terror, the vulgar regard, it excites in my heart the charm of delicious sentiments--sublime contemplations."--The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature (1791) by Volney
Ruins is a term used to describe the remains of man-made architecture: structures that were at one time complete but which have either been deliberately destroyed or fallen into a state of disrepair over time due to the action of weathering and lack of maintenance.
There are famous ruins all over the world, from ancient sites in Judea to ancient Greek and Roman sites in the Mediterranean Sea, and Incan sites in Peru. Ruins can be fortifications, places of worship, or remnants of houses, storehouses, or other buildings, or even entire cities and towns. Ruins are important for the studying of the past, in particular history and archaeology. There are also substantial ruins in modern cities such as Rome and Athens.
In the Middle Ages Roman ruins were inconvenient impediments to modern life, quarries for pre-shaped blocks for building projects, or of 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 Herculaneum and 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.
Ruin value 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. Ruinenwert was popularized in the 20th century by Albert Speer while planning for the 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.
The ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle in England inspired Turner to create several paintings. 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[JM Gandy's aerial view of Sir John Soane's Bank of England in ruins. 1830. , that is an icon of Romanticism.
- Ancient Rome by Pannini
- A capriccio of classical ruins with figures  by Leonardo Coccorante (1680–1750)
- Classical Ruins (Hubert Robert) (1798) is a painting by French artist Hubert Robert, in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
- see also
- Italianate landscape
- Imaginary landscape
- Capriccio (art)
- Neoclassical landscape painting
Film and video games
In 1989 the ruined Dunnottar Castle in Scotland was used for filming of Hamlet. The Civilization series of turn-based strategy computer games features ruins as special tiles which may provide the player with a bonus when explored.
Follies and fake ruins
Ruins are frequently present in architectural follies. The canonical examples pretend to be the remains of an old building but were in fact constructed in that state. Many of the great estates of the late 16th century and early 17th century had ruins of monastic houses (in England) and Roman villas (in Italy). See Ruinenberg at Sanssouci. A contemporary example is Piazza d'Italia, which has been called the first "postmodern ruin".
Relics of steel and wooden towers
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 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 Deutschlandsender Herzberg/Elster.
The basements of large wooden towers such as transmitter Ismaning may also be left behind, because removing them would be difficult.
- Capriccio (art)
- List of vedutisti
- Folly (architecture)
- Dissolution of the monasteries
- Modern ruins