Should Christchurch rebuild exactly as it was pre-quake? Warsaw, Poland, did.

Christchurch Art Gallery --
Christchurch Art Gallery

As a travel writer, I was puzzled as I walked through the historic centre of Warsaw, Poland just a few weeks ago.  Why? Well, I’d read that during the Warsaw Uprising (August 1944) over 85% of Warsaw’s old centre was destroyed by Nazi troops, but my eyes could only see 13th to 20th century buildings.

The beautiful old town, Warsaw

 

Apparently after the war, a five-year reconstruction campaign began, resulting in the meticulous restoration of the Old Town which is what I could see.

 

According to the United Nations World Heritage website, It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century.”

 

old or rebuilt ?
Another fabulous building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder as one of our clichés say, but for me, the beauty of European market places, churches and palaces is in their age.  I kept looking at buildings wondering is that rebuilt or is it old; five hundred years or fifty?  Actually, what I really was thinking ‘real or fake’; it felt Disney or Vegas-like. In fact, at the top of my mind was, ‘I’m so glad Christchurch is not doing that.’

Born, schooled, and living in Christchurch for most of my life, I have been devastated by the destruction of so many of our buildings, and much of my history. All my family arrived in Otautahi between 1862 and 1873 so our roots are deep in this flat, swampy, shaky region, and although I grieve for what was, I also welcome what will be.

During that fateful first quake (September 2010), lying in bed clutching my mattress so, if my 3rd floor apartment building collapsed I’d land on something soft, I had no idea what was to come. How relieved were my tweets and texts on that first day. It never entered my head we would eventually, like Warsaw, loose most of our inner city, my backyard. But we did – about 80% of our inner city.

And today I see on Facebook, that the beautiful Press building could be rebuilt, a replica on the same spot, for a hotel. That would be an asset to the city; it would give us back the appearance of still having one of our old buildings, but please make sure people know it’s a reproduction of a loved building. Don’t have tourists stand and wonder, real or fake, old or new?

Polish people are proud of how they defied the punishing German bombs by rebuilding exactly as it was, and the historic centre is full of tourists most of who love it as it is. However, for me, I’m just relieved my beloved Christchurch is, apart from key buildings that can thankfully be repaired, is arising as a new Christchurch: honouring the past, while welcoming the future.

(The Kiwi Travel Writer now lives in Wellington, but not as a quake survivor – she had begun apartment hunting some months before the quakes)

Christchurch Bike Tours in quake re-build zone

Now is the time  to visit post-quake Christchurch, New Zealand,  and take a Christchurch Bike Tour in the Rebuild Zone,  This  two-hour, personalised tour of the cordoned-off Rebuild Zone allows you to see the Christchurch CBD rebuild in a safe, personalised and interactive way. It is the first opportunity the public have had to go into the Rebuild Zone on bikes.

You  will enjoy a sensory experience within the cordon as Christchurch Bike Tours guides’ offer information on the new city vision, including the new precincts, community projects and local business stories incorporating the strength and resilience of the people from Christchurch.
Christchurch Bike Tours owner Stephanie Fitts says the tour is designed to give locals and visitors the opportunity to understand the changed nature of the Christchurch CBD and the future of Christchurch as a 21st century city.
Tours are  limited to six people to allow for a personalised and safe experience and you will be required to stay on the bikes throughout the tour and wear closed-in footwear. Of course the route may vary depending on safety conditions.
Tour departures are at 10am and 2pm. Tours are two-hours long, and cost $40 per person, which includes the bike, helmet, hi-visibility safety vest and a local guide.
Bookings are essential by phoning 0800 733 257 or online at www.chchbiketours.co.nz
Christchurch Bike Tours was awarded the contract by CERA to run the tours in the Christchurch Rebuild Zone.

Note: this is New Zealand’s only guided city bike tour.

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