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Delia Kottmann

Italian village in Lazio, north of Rome, known for its church. The church of SS Anastasius and Nonnosus is all that remains of the 6th-century Benedictine monastery, which submitted to Cluny in ad 940. Apart from some re-used fragments, the architecture is Romanesque, with a Cosmati pavement in opus sectile as well as an ambo and ciborium. The church is famous for its wall paintings from the first quarter of the 12th century. The apse and its adjacent walls, showing the 24 elders, are influenced by Romano–Christian motifs. Christ in the middle of the conch is flanked by Peter and Paul in a Traditio legis depiction, with a procession of lambs below. Underneath, Maria Regina has to be reconstructed in the middle, between two conserved angels followed by female saints in a Byzantine manner. No Romano–Christian iconography seems to have influenced the vast apocalyptic cycle painted on the side walls of the transept. A band of prophets runs beneath the roof on all the walls of the transept. An inscription in the apse indicates three Roman painters....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Huesca  

Daniel Rico

Spanish provincial capital, to the north of Saragossa in Aragón. Known in pre-Roman Iberia as Bolskan and as Osca under the Romans, it was the seat of the Quintus Sertorius government, a municipium (free town) since the time of Augustus and a bishopric under the Visigoths. During the period of Muslim domination from the 8th to the 11th centuries, the town, known as Wasqa, became a defensive settlement with a city wall stretching for more than 1.8 km, of which some sections still remain. Although the city was recovered by the Christians in 1096 and the episcopal see restored the following year, the architectural transformation of Huesca was not immediate. During the 12th century only two edifices of any real importance were constructed. One of these was the Benedictine monastery of S Pedro el Viejo, of which three Romanesque structures have survived: the church—a simple construction which nevertheless has two interesting tympana carved by sculptors from Jaca; a small chapel, possibly inherited from the Mozarab community in the 11th century, which was used as the Chapter House and then as a funeral chapel; and a cloister decorated around ...

Article

Alison Stones

French town in the Dordogne that grew up on the site of Roman Vesunna. Roman remains include the arena, temple and villa, the latter now the site of a museum of Roman art designed by Jean Nouvel. Several medieval houses preserve fragments of 13th-century wall paintings. The former medieval cathedral dedicated to St Etienne is located between the temple and arena and preserves several bays of its early 12th-century choir with a flat east end vaulted with domes on pendentives. Similar domes are found at the 12th-century abbey church of St Front, originally outside the walls and since 1669 the cathedral. St Front has a Greek-cross plan like that of the Holy Apostles (destr.) in Constantinople and St Mark’s in Venice. It was restored by Paul Abadie, architect of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, who endowed both buildings with ‘pepper-pot’ turrets. Fragments of early 12th-century sculpture from St Front survive at the Musée du Périgord in Périgueux, some from the tomb of St Fronto described in the mid-12th-century Pilgrims Guide to Santiago de Compostela, where it is claimed that Fronto was sent to Périgueux by St Peter. Other medieval holdings in the museum include the Diptych of Rabastens (Tarn), the founding charter of the Confraternity of the Assumption, containing the names of the founding members beneath scenes of the ...

Article

Ravello  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. Ravello has been documented as an urban centre since the 10th century and as a bishopric since 1087. The centre, near the Toro quarter, is high up between the two rivers that separate the city from Scala and Minori. The city’s fortifications were damaged and the city itself was sacked by a Pisan assault in 1135 and in 1137. At the end of the 14th century, its inhabitants also clashed with the neighbouring city of Scala. In the 13th century a mercantile oligarchy with power throughout all of Sicily and close relations to the Crown took control of the city, celebrated in Boccaccio’s Decameron (II.4), and enriched it with numerous monuments and artworks.

The cathedral, dedicated to S Pantaleone, dates to 1087 but was extensively altered in the late 18th century. The cathedral has three naves and the façade has three portals—the central one has a bronze door (...

Article

Robin B. Williams

Town plan for the second largest city in Georgia. The Savannah plan is celebrated today as one of the finest urban layouts in the world, yet it had limited influence outside Georgia. Conceived in the context of Enlightenment idealism, it is rivaled in its sophistication in America only by the plan of Washington, DC. In 1733, General James Edward Oglethorpe founded the Georgia colony and laid out Savannah as its capital. Its network of numerous squares and broad streets dedicated a greater percentage of land to the public realm than any other city plan in history and created a model of humanly scaled urbanism.

Oglethorpe devised a plan linking the region to the city in which each freeholder received a roughly 45-acre farm lot, a 5-acre garden lot and a 60×90 ft (c. 18×27 m) town lot. The town plan reflected the utopian ideals of the colony with an egalitarian network of wards, each originally 675×675 ft (205×205 m) in size and centered on a public square. Yet, within each ward, blocks and streets establish subtle hierarchies. Pairs of “trust lots” reserved for public buildings flank each square to the east and west, while to the north and south lay four residential “tything” blocks, each comprising ten residential town lots set in two rows of five divided by a lane. The plan also employed two classes of streets: civic streets include principal streets 75 ft (23 m) wide on axis with each square and those running east–west between the wards, and, half their width, secondary streets 37.5 ft (11.5 m) wide skirting the squares; utilitarian streets include principal streets 45 ft (13.7 m) wide running north–south between wards and lanes 22.5 ft (7 m) wide subdividing the tything blocks. Despite dramatic social and technological changes since ...

Article

Scala  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. According to the 10th-century Chronicon Salernitanum, where it is referred to as Cama, Scala is the oldest centre along the entire Amalfi coast and has its origins in Late Antiquity. However, documentary proof that the city existed is only available from the beginning of the 10th century. Throughout history it has been home to a commercial aristocracy with commercial and political power throughout the entire Kingdom of Sicily. The Sasso and d’Afflitto families stood out from others in this group. Monasteries have been recorded in the city from the 10th century and it was under the control of the Duchy of Amalfi for the entire medieval period.

The settlement is characterized by numerous villages, such as Pontone and Minuta, which are found high up in the mountains behind Amalfi as well as in front of Ravello . Although the city is defended by a series of fortifications, it was damaged and sacked by a Pisan assault in ...

Article

Vilnius  

Adam Miłobędzki

[Ger. Wilna ; Pol. Wilno ; Rus. Vilno, Vil’nyus ]

Capital of Lithuania, situated on the River Vilnya. Since becoming the capital of the Grand Duchy in 1323 its political fortunes have mainly followed those of Lithuania as a whole. Throughout its history Vilnius has been the artistic capital of Lithuania ; despite its position on Europe’s east–west cultural divide, from the late 16th century to the mid-20th its dominant Polish population brought it under the powerful influence of Latin culture. In two periods in particular, the Late Gothic and Rococo, the art of Vilnius developed a strong regional character, but at other times, notably in the 17th century, it absorbed outside influences, particularly from Italy, in their purer forms. Although the city flourished on trade with neighbouring countries and the Baltic, it was cut off from the main world trade routes; after rapid growth in the 17th century it stagnated at the turn of the 19th, leaving it with a rather underdeveloped industrial base....