The blueprints of the Middle Ages are back. Even as metal and glass have long since replaced stone and mortar, there is an unmistakable parallel to be drawn between medieval fortifications and the walls rising in all corners of the world: from the U.S.-Mexico border to Hungary, from São Paulo to the West Bank.
There's one more in Paris, as incongruous as it is emblematic, to be added to this growing list. By next summer's Bastille Day, the Eiffel Tower, the most-visited paid monument in the world, will be surrounded by a three-meter-high bulletproof glass wall. Construction work begins today on what Le Figaro reports is a 25-million-euro ($30 million) project.
The wall's professed purpose, as for virtually any other such construction in the past and present, is protection. In this case, to protect the site and its annual flow of six million visitors from a very real danger that the French capital knows only too well: potential terrorist attacks. The monument is one of the world's singular symbols of Western progress, and as such, it has long been figuring prominently on ISIS" list of targets.
Though "necessary, these measures don't remove the risk of an elaborate attack."
According to Le Figaro, the glass wall will be erected on the northern and southern sides of the monument, along the main avenues. Meanwhile, its gardens on the western and eastern sides will get ornate fencing — in Eiffel-Tower-like fashion — to replace the unappealing metal barriers that have been surrounding the site for many months now, as France remains on high alert after two major attacks in Paris and one in the southern city of Nice over the past two years.
Quoted in the Le Figaro"s article, a former member of France's National Gendarmerie Intervention Group already warns that though "necessary, these measures don't remove the risk of an elaborate attack."
Even with architecture becoming an anti-terror weapon, the threat remains and the potential downside of such drastic measures is to create a false sense of security. After all, the Middle Ages taught us that even the strongest walls have their weaknesses — and after Sept. 11, no one can look at towers quite the same way.