By Carol Schwyzer, MoneyMuseum 2011
(Translated by Geoffrey P. Burwell)
"Show me how you build and I will tell you who you are," said the poet Christian Morgenstern (*1871, †1914).
The building activity of mankind is as old as the hills. Depending on the available material and the prevailing developments of technology, practically all cultures have created buildings which are still admired today. Famous buildings are part of a country's or a town's identity. Anyone who sees the Colosseum thinks of Rome. The Eiffel Tower is equated with Paris.
Architecture first and foremost originated from the human need for protection and security. Then people built dwellings for their gods, so that the latter could stay among them and have their effect on them. Buildings have also long served to represent power and the need to overcome the passing of time. And not least, good architecture satisfies man's desire for beauty and harmony.
Prestigious buildings also represent the ideas and the political and economic system of their times. And many owners were so proud of their works that they placed them on their coins, as this picture tour shows.