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Architecture for beginners - curriculum planning

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Now that I seem to be the course planner for architectural studies on the forum, I need to consult with members on how to proceed. Should we go back to the beginning, or move on from Romanesque to Gothic. Since we have camino time on our hands, I suggest going back to earlier times and moving forward. How about the following separate threads?
  1. Prehistorical architectural sites (there must be a few)
  2. Roman
  3. Visigothic
  4. Moorish
  5. Pre-Romanesque (is this necessasry)
  6. Romanesque (the subject of this thread)
  7. Gothic
We will worry about the more recent styles after we do Gothic.

Are those reasonable divisions? Do I need to add any transitional elements? Remember - this is for beginners! Should we start with prehistory?

[Edited to add Moorish - There seems to be overlap in dates, so someone should confirm if this sequence makes reasonable sense.]
 
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OzAnnie

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Well done you @C clearly for taking this on.
I can see this being a great way to expand the mind and to appreciate the architecture more as we walk through spain.

I’m a super duper beginner - happy to take your lead. This should draw out the scholars among us. Since many of the routes are in Spain - would it be an idea to include ‘Moorish Architecture’.

Annie
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
How about the following separate threads?
That looks super. So long as they're one at a time! ;)

A few tweaks:
Pre-Roman may be a good-enough category. Menhirs, castros, toros, and such...there is both diversity and quantity. But since most are not buildings, it's a different focus. Maybe later...
And Roman stuff could be later too; Bridges, aqueducts, and the few more intact archaeological sites seem like a standalone thread it has a slightly different focus then intact buildings.

Why not start with
• Visigothic
• Moorish / Mozarrabic (and others?— my knowledge is super-sketchy here)
• Gothic
?

My two cents. And a lot of appreciation for posting these; it's always a pleasure to learn new things!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I sense a lot of enthusiasm but hold on for a moment ... what it the intended purpose of these threads? To explore where you can find great examples for specific styles in architecture and art or, more like the Romanesque thread, to explore the characteristics of a particular style in architecture and art. We (and in particular I) talked a lot about capitals in San Martín of Fromista but that wasn't because they are so extraordinary. It was because they are a good example to show what makes Spanish Romanesque special, at least for me. We hardly mentioned any of the extraordinary places with such Romanesque capitals in Spain because it wasn't the purpose of the thread.

Take Roman aqueducts ... mostly, the guidebook will tell us that a Roman aqueduct will appear during today's walk. If I were to see one unexpectedly in the landscape, would I wonder whether it is Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, or Baroque? Hardly.

Take stone bridges ... one could discuss a few characteristics that distinguish Roman bridges from medieval bridges but it would be Roman versus medieval and not Roman versus Romanesque or Gothic. So this would be more a thread about bridges in general - how to recognise what style they are.

Menhirs, dolmens and similar: I could think of a discussion of how to distinguish a menhir from a naturally formed piece of rock ... or how to know whether an array of standing stones was put in place thousands of years ago or during the last decade (I couldn't tell. Guidebook and internet would tell me. Or a plaque on or near the stones).

Or: What distinguishes Mudéjar architecture from Mozarab architecture, or even how do I recognise Mudéjar and Mozarab architectural styles?

If we want to go purely by time periods, and focusing on architecture and art in relation to what one encounters on caminos, and with the proviso that I know only the Camino Francés, I see mainly these lines of inquiry/interest:
  • characteristics of the Gothic style and how to recognise it;
  • ditto for Visigothic style, possibly together with what is often called pre-Romanesque, meaning the period between the Roman architectural period and the Romanesque architectural period - as it is fairly rare, it would be interesting to establish a list of major examples in relation to where they can be found on or near caminos;
  • Baroque/Renaissance/Plateresque - the ubiquitous retablos in Spanish churches plus stuff covered in gold and the odd framed painting perhaps here and there.
So, in short: this post is meant as a challenge for those who like categories. ☺️
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
what it the intended purpose of these threads?
Haven't you hear of Likes? :p 🤣🤣
I will need to ponder the learning objectives a little bit more.
this post is meant as a challenge for those who like categories.
Fine. But I like simple classification systems and I'm prepared to force everything to fit!.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2017, 2018, 2019
It would be a shame to stop at Gothic. Could we continue right up to contemporary architecture? The Spanish Arts website lists periods/styles of Spanish architecture in the following high-level categories

Prehistoric Spanish Architecture / Roman Spanish Architecture / Pre-Romanesque Architecture / Mudejar Style / Romanesque Spanish Architecture / Gothic Spanish Architecture / Renaissance Spanish Architecture / Baroque Spanish Architecture / Colonial Spanish Architecture / Neoclassical Spanish Architecture / 19th Century Spanish Architecture / 20th and 21st Century Spanish Architecture

Since twelve categories is way more than desirable, I would suggest the following taxonomy:
  1. Prehistoric and Roman
  2. Pre-Romanesque - including Visigothic and Mudejar
  3. Romanesque
  4. Mudejar - 12th to 16th century style developed by Moors in Christian Spain
  5. Gothic
  6. Renaissance and Baroque
  7. 19th to 21st century - including revival styles (e.g. Neo-classical, Neo-Mudejar), modern, and contemporary
I'm not an architecture expert, so I defer to to those who are to point out any issues. In particular, I wonder if there are problems with category 2 and 6
2. Is it accurate to call Mudejar architecture pre-Romanesque? I think there may be an overlap?
EDIT - 2 Deleted "Mudejar" based on feedback below.
EDIT - 4 Created a separate category for Mudejar
6. I think some Neo-classical buildings date from earlier than C19. (e.g. Prado Museum.- 1785)
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
It would be a shame to stop at Gothic. Could we continue right up to contemporary architecture? The Spanish Arts website lists periods/styles of Spanish architecture in the following high-level categories

Prehistoric Spanish Architecture / Roman Spanish Architecture / Pre-Romanesque Architecture / Mudejar Style / Romanesque Spanish Architecture / Gothic Spanish Architecture / Renaissance Spanish Architecture / Baroque Spanish Architecture / Colonial Spanish Architecture / Neoclassical Spanish Architecture / 19th Century Spanish Architecture / 20th and 21st Century Spanish Architecture

2. Is it accurate to call Mudejar architecture pre-Romanesque? I think there may be an overlap?
The Mudejar style remained long after the Moors were in Spain. To give an example in Madrid there are quite a few Mudejar buildings from the 19th and 20th century though in this case is called NeoMudejar.
 
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jungleboy

Spirit of the Camino (Nick)
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017
Primitivo 2018
Madrid 2019
Kumano Kodo 2019
Português 2020
Well done @C clearly for taking on this immense task! I think the Romanesque thread has shown that there is a real appetite for this and that we can all learn more, share resources etc in a really constructive way.

A few points:

- Neatly fitting pretty much anything into categories is tricky at best. Remember how each of us is one of only four categories of pilgrim? 😉 That said, architecture probably lends itself to categorisation more than most other things although it might still be delicate at times.

- On that point, the listed categories are not as perfectly 'linear' as they seem in the case of Spain. I'm taken back to something @peregrina2000 wrote in the Romanesque thread about time and space, given that different styles of architecture were being produced at the same time when the peninsula was divided into parts ruled by Christians and parts ruled by Muslims. For example, the Burgos cathedral and the main parts of the Alhambra both date from around the same time but are not the same type of architecture.

- Regarding Muslim architecture and presence on the peninsula as a whole, we are throwing a few words around here (Moorish, Mozárabe, Mudéjar) and some clarification might be worthwhile. Moors (moros ESP, mouros POR) are what the Muslims who invaded the peninsula in 711 were called. Mozárabes were Christians living under Moorish rule in the southern part of the peninsula. Mudéjar refers to Muslim influence on Christian lands after they had been reconquered. How does this relate back to architecture? Let's consider three buildings: the Mezquita in Córdoba ('Moorish'), the church in Wamba (often described as Visigothic-Mozárabe - again, hard to be neat here), and San Tirso in Sahagún (Mudéjar with some Romanesque). I would suggest that they are wildly different from each other. So we need to think this through a bit.

- The other era that stands out as a bit tricky to me is the period between classical Rome (and let's use the Segovia aqueduct as our example here) and Romanesque (say, San Martín in Frómista). This is nearly 1,000 years' worth of architecture. Various terms such as Visigothic and pre-Romanesque have been used upthread but don't capture the entirety of the period (I tend to define pre-Romanesque as not simply 'something that came before Romanesque' but more 'something that you can see will develop into Romanesque soon'). I would suggest 'early Christian' or similar for this period, and this can cover a series of styles for which there are not many extant examples: late Roman or perhaps Paleo-Christian, as these terms overlap (e.g. Santa Eulalia de Bóveda on/near the Primitivo), Visigothic (e.g. São Frutuoso in Braga), Mozárabe (e.g. Wamba, again) and pre-Romanesque (e.g. the Naranco churches near Oviedo). Admittedly, Visigothic and Mozárabe are hard to distinguish and you can often see both in the same building.

- I would certainly separate prehistoric and Roman. I also see these as wildly different, although you do have some examples of castros where you have a pre-Roman settlement that was taken over by Romans.

- Within Gothic, you can have sub-categories, such as Manueline architecture which can be seen in Belém (near Lisbon) and Tomar on the CP, among other places.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Pre-Romanesque (is this necessasry)
For anyone walking the Primitivo, Asturian pre-romanesque is right on the way and it is beautiful. It is definitely different than Romanesque, but you could give it a shout-out on the current Romanesque thread and consider it done.

And I am glad to see that my unsophisticated understanding of the difference between mudéjar and mozárabe was pretty spot on. Thanks, jungleboy!
 

jmcarp

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2013
Camino del Norte a Chimayó (USA), 2015
Camino Portugues, 2017
The authority is Sir Bannister Fletcher.
Thank you for the reference. Fletcher's "A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method" is one of the few textbooks I have kept from way back when. It's long out of print, and copies such as mine are probably worth much more than I paid for it in the college bookstore back in the early 60s. However, it apparently is now in the public domain and Amazon lists what appears to be a scanned copy (perhaps incomplete) for a reasonable price, if anyone is interested.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I'm with jungleboy on the important distinction between Moorish, Mudejar, and Mozarabic. When I read the initial post my first thought was to comment on broadening "Moorish" to include Mudejar and Mozarabic and distinguish between them, but I saw that jungleboy got there ahead of me.

I also think it is worth remembering that these styles blend into each other. It isn't as if one day people woke up and said "Okay, today Romanesque is over and we are all purely Gothic now." The architecture of buildings can have characteristics of more than one style (such as Wamba,described by jungleboy as Visigothic-Mudejar).

But if we are following up on the earlier thread which, if memory serves, started out pretty much as "What are the chief characteristics of this style? How can I recognize it?" than we can accommodate those instances that blend or transition. We just say "It has these characteristics associated with architectural style X and these other characteristics associated with architectural style Y."
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2008) Le Puy to SJPP (2010) Camino Primitivo (2010)
VLP (2013) Norte (2016/17)
Now that I seem to be the course planner for architectural studies on the forum, I need to consult with members on how to proceed. Should we go back to the beginning, or move on from Romanesque to Gothic. Since we have camino time on our hands, I suggest going back to earlier times and moving forward. How about the following separate threads?
  1. Prehistorical architectural sites (there must be a few)
  2. Roman
  3. Visigothic
  4. Moorish
  5. Pre-Romanesque (is this necessasry)
  6. Romanesque (the subject of this thread)
  7. Gothic
We will worry about the more recent styles after we do Gothic.

Are those reasonable divisions? Do I need to add any transitional elements? Remember - this is for beginners! Should we start with prehistory?

[Edited to add Moorish - There seems to be overlap in dates, so someone should confirm if this sequence makes reasonable sense.]
This is a great idea and will enrich our pilgrimages! The divisions you have suggested look very reasonable. Do you intend to do a broad sweep across several Camino routes, or describe the architecture on specific Camino routes?(I would find that very helpful) Thank you so much for expediting this! (Happy memories of exploring some churches with Peregrina2000 on the Camino del Norte! Thanks Laurie!)
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
Are those reasonable divisions?

Yes, is my tuppence worth. The break between divisions is not neat and tidy: there can be much overlap.

Having said that I would suggest expanding the range for each division / category.

My understanding is that some medieval architects (chief builders) were themselves quite peripatetic and their works can be found in several countries. A leading example in Spain is Leon Cathedral, with the exterior built in the French mode of the day by French architects.

By range I mean that, however we do this, we consider the standard elements of each division Roman etc as found throughout Europe and then consider how these were given expression, possibly with differences, in the Iberian Peninsula with particular reference to examples found on the more popular pilgrimage routes.

Would we also need to consider how the style is translated into usage: for example, are the expressions of style in each division different for chapels, ermita, parish churches, abbeys and cathedrals?

One thing I would hope to learn is why the internal ordering of cathedrals is consistent in Spain and quite consistently differently ordered to (most) abbeys and cathedrals in Belgium, England, France and Scotland.

I may have had threepence worth, sorry.
 
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Most all Camino authors have decided to use 2020 guides for 2021, with free PDF files with updates coming in the spring. Get yours today.
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Well, we seem to have some enthusiasm for another Architecture for Beginners thread, to follow the Romanesque thread here!
Don't care how it is done as long as it covers the whole from prehistory to contemporary. Well done for taking it on.
You don't ask much, do you!?

To all:
  1. Please note the name of the thread. What part of "for beginners" do you not understand? 😳
  2. Anyone who says "I am not an expert" is WAY more advanced than a beginner.
  3. Of course there are subtleties, blends, transitions and overlaps. That will be covered in the advanced course. (Not sure who is going to lead that one, but it won't be me!)
  4. The threads will be successful if I (and hopefully a few others) will be able to listen to an audio guide of a historic building, and nod knowingly when certain features are pointed out.
Here is my current outline for a series of threads. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time. It is simple enough that I can understand it in terms of my overall very basic knowledge of Spanish history, and I can spell all the terms without looking. People can toss in comments about transitional elements and exceptions to the rules, but please remember that such complications should mostly be saved for threads aimed at intermediate and advanced levels
  1. Prehistoric and Roman
  2. Visigothic and Pre-Romanesque
  3. Romanesque
  4. Mudejar - 12th to 16th century style developed by Moors in Christian Spain
  5. Gothic
  6. Renaissance and Baroque
  7. 19th to 21st century
I have made the executive decision to address #2 next. I'll create a new thread for it here.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I have made the executive decision to address #2 next. I'll create a new thread for it here.
Yippee!
Thank you for starting the ball rolling!

(The only thing I would adjust to the outline above — as somebody else already suggested — would be two separate out Roman from everything that went before it.)
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I would suggest a thread for each style, with contributions from one and all of where and what is available along the Way. I am a keen fan of architecture, and if you love Spanish history and buildings I can recommend the website and programs of the Fundacion Santa Maria la Real del Patrimonio Historico (www.santamarialareal.org). It's a non-profit based in the mountains of Palencia, with a national reach and some pretty fine tours and educational programming. Check them out! If we gather up enough interested people I could arrange us a three-day tour of some real gems!
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
if you love Spanish history and buildings I can recommend the website and programs of the Fundacion Santa Maria la Real del Patrimonio Historico
RABBIT HOLE ALERT!!!
Wow. Wonderful. Gracias, Reb.

I followed that link to this:
If no one hears from me for a while, you know where to come looking.
 
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