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INTANGIBLE URBAN LANDSCAPES: Cartography of the monastic landscape

We will record and geolocate the monasteries in different cities in the Mediterranean. We will analyse how they interact with other elements and their spatial influence within the urban land parcelling. We will develop an urban digital cartography on the monastery landscape in mediaeval cities.

Based on the experience gained in previous projects, in this one we want to take yet another step forward in studying the impact of the monastic phenomenon on the topography of mediaeval cities. The construction of a monastery inside or near the walls generated a series of urban dynamics which were often fossilised in the land parcelling and can be analysed using digital cartography techniques.

Monastic landscape of the city of Naples

To do so, we will design a database which will enable us to store the information on women’s and men’s monasteries within the period studied. We will record the specific geographic location of each monastic centre with the goal of representing and analysing it over a digital cartography base. We will accomplish this by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which have proven to be useful in studying the historical landscape. Based on the layout of successive walls, we will develop a series of thematic maps where we will depict the monasteries according to their origin, the period in which they were founded and their religious order. To do so, we will use not only georeferencing techniques with points but also advanced algorithmic and 3-D analysis tools, through which we will be able to go beyond a mere visual analysis of the data and instead be able to come up with intriguing interpretative models.

Map of the city of Seville in the 16th century

The ultimate goal is to detect the existence of unique models of monastic establishment (inside or outside the walled premises, near or far from the entrance gates and main roadway arteries) in order to ascertain the impact of the monasteries in both the development of new urban zones and the consolidation of the pre-existing spaces. Given the chronological and geographic breadth of the project, we have chosen four significant model cities in the Mediterranean arc and the southwest Iberian Peninsula, namely Barcelona, Naples, Seville and Santarén, which will enable us to make a comparative analysis between monastic orders, timeframes and forms of establishment.

The GIS maps resulting from our work will be published in interactive format on the project’s digital platform with the goal of allowing users to choose the information and timeframe that they want to see.

Universitat de Barcelona
Institut de Recerca en Cultures Medievals
Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades