The Forgotten Landmarks

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When we travel to a new destination, the first things we want to see are the landmarks. We feel they embody the identity of the place we visit because we have seen them in magazines, television, and on countless photos on social media.

But what do we know about landmarks? I bet that if you ask people how much they know about the Big Ben, they would reply that it’s a must-see if you go to London. In this new technological era, a photo posted on social media taken in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background is the perfect way to attract likes and shares.

Landmarks though represent so much more for the people who live in the country where they reside. I was born in Milan, Italy, where countless tourists go to see the beautiful Duomo and take pictures of it. For me, it’s a true masterpiece—the columns inside are enormous and convey the spiritual majesty of the structure. The construction began in the 14th century, and it ended in the 20th century. It has been damaged during World War II, but it has never been destroyed—it represents the resilience and the history of Milan.

We tend to take for granted the landmarks of the places we come from, but when we travel, the monuments of other countries are on our must-see list. I think we should remember to visit the landmarks in our cities every once in a while, and we should get curious to know more about them. This shift in perspective would give us more insight into our culture, and we could also become great guides for our friends when they come visit.

It’s great that we want to share photos of the landmarks we see around the world, but it would be great if we shared some historical or artistic information about the monuments when we show them. I know that history can be boring, but maybe we could create interest sharing little unknown details about it, saying something like: “Did you know that it took thousands of workers, a new canal system and over six centuries to complete the Duomo of Milan?”

I have traveled extensively, and I have to say that landmarks are not my favorite thing to see because I like discovering things off the beaten path. I take a photo with the monument in the background and then I’m off to something else—I am guilty like everybody else. We live in a society where everything is consumed quickly without paying much attention, but we owe to these monuments more respect, especially to the ones in the places where we were born—they carry a part of our identity.

When I go back to Milan to visit my parents, and I see the Duomo, I look at it with different eyes. Being far away from my roots gave me the chance to appreciate it differently. Although I don’t know much about the history of this masterpiece, I am able now to see a piece of me in it. When I was living in Italy, I never saw it that way. As in many things in life, the distance made me appreciate the real value of this landmark. Landmarks are always there for us like old friends, and they don’t get offended if we neglect them. It’s never too late to give them the attention they deserve.