5 buildings you probably didn′t know took more than 500 years to construct | High Five | DW | 04.03.2016
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High Five

5 buildings you probably didn't know took more than 500 years to construct

From lack of funds to lack of interest, there are many reasons construction projects drag on for centuries. Here of five examples of architectural "works in progress," including the Kremlin and the Ulm Cathedral.

There are some building sites that seem to go on forever. Think of the Berlin Airport, for instance. It's been 10 years since the foundation of the new complex was first laid but construction still continues - with no end in sight.

Many think that Berlin has become a laughing stock on account of the dragging progress; however, a decade of construction seems almost negligible when compared to some other historic buildings. Some edifices in Europe took more than 500 years to build.

Get me to the church in time

The Ulm Cathedral boasts the world's tallest church tower, and its design looks like there's little else to it than the monumental Gothic tower. Popular among tourists and locals alike, it took more than half a millennium to have the cathedral built.

Construction for the church started in 1377 and only ended in the late 19th century, at which point it was the world's fourth tallest structure. It is unclear how many people have worked at the site throughout the centuries, but they must all have realized that they would not slive to ee the day of completion.

Structural problems

With countless architects and builders getting involved in the project, the church started to take on a life of its own. Not much of the edifice corresponds to the original blueprints. The reason for that was that as time progressed, it became clear that the soil wouldn't be able to carry the massive tower.

With the structural analysis not looking promising, the original designs were later abandoned; instead of completing the tower, builders settled on an improvised rooftop.

No longer a sign of the times

In 1531, Ulm became Protestant, resulting in an overall rejection of the Catholic construction. The teachings of the Lutheran church were at odds with such Catholic opulence, resulting in all construction coming to a halt in 1543. In addition to changing attitudes and tastes, the project was also lacking the funds for further development.

It took another 300 years until construction was picked up again where it had been left off. In the mid-19th century, a resurging interest in the Middle Ages helped change hearts and minds.

The building was finally completed in 1890 after dragging on for 513 years - many of which were spent in limbo. The Ulm Cathedral is now venerated as a masterpiece of architecture. So perhaps there's hope for the Berlin airport after all.

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