Europe Tried Walls. Now It Likes Bridges.

From: Rick Steves’ Travel Blog

When it comes to walls, I believe we can learn from Europe, which has done more than its share of wall building in the past. From Hadrian’s Wall (built by the ancient Romans to defend the northern boundary of Britannia) to the Maginot Line (built by the French in the 1930s to keep out the Germans), these walls were symbols of mistrust and insecurity. They were necessary back then, but in our age, society is advancing and dismantling walls as we move forward.

With the fall of the Iron Curtain and the rise of the European Union, walls and border checks have been replaced by free trade, free travel, and a well-funded government initiative (the Erasmus program) that subsidizes young people and teachers working and studying in neighboring countries. Europe’s keys to a wall-free world: weaving economies together, lots of travel, and empathy.

At one point or another, most of Europe’s great cities РParis, London, Rome, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Vienna, and many more Рwere all contained within walls, constructed during ancient and medieval times to defend against invaders. Most of these walls were torn down long ago to allow cities to expand beyond their historic centers and to clear land for grand circular boulevards. But some walls remain intact and well-preserved, such as in Dubrovnik (Croatia), Rothenburg (Germany), Lucca (Italy), and Carcassonne (France). In each case, these are people-friendly park-like spaces where people stroll, gather, and enjoy the views. And a few former walls are now museums and memorials, designed to inspire us to relate to our neighbors in ways where walls make no sense.

Read more at Rick Steves’ Travel Blog.

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