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Elegant Decay is the distinct cultural/historical concept that some places, and structures, become gradually more elegant, notable or beautiful as they decay, or fall into ruin, due to their historical, architectural and/or cultural significance. Although such reverence can often be merely in the opinion of individuals, it is true that certain cities, regions or even countries are more susceptible to the general concept due to past opulence, or their lengthy or enduring history or culture.
Contrary to the general interpretation that places or structures are more noteworthy in their newness, or older structures hold more value and interest in being historically restored to their original state, the concept of elegant decay is that in the slow degradation of the structures an inherent elegance, or beauty, emerges due to past historic importance. In more recent times, this concept has gradually become more important for regions to cultivate a more vibrant tourist industry.
With its rich history, and centuries of past prestige and prominence, Western Europe has many places where today elegant decay is notable and celebrated. One of the most famous countries is Italy, due to its lengthy historic prominence in prehistoric, ancient, medieval and modern times. Possibly the most celebrated of Italian cities in elegant decay would be Venice, largely due to the whole city slowly crumbling and sinking into the lagoon in which it is located.
Although Western Europe holds many instances of elegant decay today, the New World also has places of crumbled reverence as well. Most notable in the United States may be the city and region around New Orleans, Louisiana, with its historic fusion of cultures and important contributions to American expansion. In the concept of elegant decay, there sometimes appears to be an element of impending doom to such places and structures, as Venice slowly sinks, and New Orleans is under constant threat from hurricanes.
It is of note that elegant decay is different in concept and plan than ruin value, in which structures are planned to look beautiful in ruin from the early planning stages. The concept of elegant decay is related to the concept of patina.