Written by Aleksandra Kozieł
As Young Experts we had an amazing opportunity to experience Volunteering in UNESCO World Heritage Site. All four groups had a chance to contribute, in a minor level, to maintenance of an extraordinary site - Upper Middle Rhine Valley. During hands on work, we had a chance to deal with only a few of the many struggles the site managers have to solve in their daily work.
My group was assigned to help with construction research at the remains of a Gothic chapel from 14th century in Bacharach. The remains of St. Werner’s chapel are visible from a distance and dominate the view on the Bacharach. The chapel itself, built in 14th century, was left abandoned for years and re-discovered in 19th century, during Romanticism period. The Gothic monument is still missing proper documentation. That’s why eight of YEF participants joined forces with eight students of architecture and eight history of art students from Univeristy of Applied Science and Gutenberg University in Mainz, and with the help of their professors worked on proper documentation.
For three days we measured each and every stone and brick in the remains of St. Werner’s chapel with the use of tachymeters, then carefully drew the bricks, grout, stones, all defects, changes in the structure of the walls, statifications and marked all the elements that are originally from 14th century. What seemed to be quite an easy task, was however very precise work, that demanded our focus and full attention. In the groups of three, so one YEF participant, one student of architecture and one student of art history, we prepared proper drawings and descriptions of our sectors.
The weather wasn’t helping though. It was cold, windy with rain showers, so it was difficult to draw. But the effects were worth it. We also had an exceptional opportunity to meet with the mayor of Bacharach, and with the site managers. Together we tried to discuss threads, solutions to the gradual destruction of the form of the monuments, our ideas how to stress out the remarkable substance of the chapel and figure out how to improve tourist infrastructure and highlight the meaning of the chapel in historical landscape of Bacharach. It gave us a possibility to present different perception of monuments and methods of preservation used in our countries.
I personally enjoyed every second of that experience. Having some background in this field I was able to learn many practical things, like how to use tachymeters and I could discuss the problems that every site manager has to struggle with. Although the weather might have made us a little less enthusiastic, the views, atmosphere and the sense of achievement made the whole experience unforgettable.