Thursday, January 19, 2012

Forms and Patterns of Urban Development in the Aegean Islands

by  Alexandra Yerolympos

The paper is divided in two parts. The first will examine briefly the overall conditions that shaped up the form and structure of traditional settlements, from the medieval times until the 19th century. The second part will focus on cities emerging in the modern times and their evolution until world war II. 
The Aegean sea, which forms a part of the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey, with Crete as its southern boundary, is long of almost 640 klm and wide of 360, and covers a surface of approx. 240.000 sq. klm. Without a center of its own, it has forged multiple links between the lands to its East and West. It has been a focal point for the reception and transmission of cultures, throughout prehistory and recorded history, and it has experienced conditions of isolation as well as of constant connections, years of peace and times of terrible conflicts and wars.
In the Aegean sea as in the Mediterranean (and I am quoting F. Braudel): “to live is to exchange, men, ideas, beliefs, ways of life… an exchange that took place among the 3 great civilizations of the Mediterranean: The Greek, the Latin and the Islamic….”

Foot Network, Chora, Patmos, Greece, by UrbanGrammar

Ιts function as an internal (inner) sea -within the Mare Nostrum of the Romans- went on during the early Byzantine period, and stopped after the 7th c., when the Arab fleets interrupted (disrupted) the unquestioned rule of Byzantium in the Mediterranean. The Byzantines reconquered Crete from the Arabs in the 10th century and regained command of the seas [961 AD) but this was an intermission in the inevitable process of withdrawal of the Byzantine power in the area.

Chora, Patmos, Greece, by lyng883

In the following centuries the Byzantine Empire finds itself cut off from the West as well as from the East. The rising new kingdoms of the Turks begin to pressure at the East in the 11th century (1071), while at the same time (1096) the Western powers start pressuring from the West. The Aegean sea is in the middle of a long-lasting conflict which will continue for centuries. The Byzantine settlements, mainly castles and small townships in the mountains in the interior and few coastal cities dating from the Antiquity, decline and shrink. Indeed during the medieval times a network of cities with long history and powerful ties to the sea withdraws in the back stage and slowly fades away.
The Crusaders bring seamen and traders from the West and establish them by the sea in strategic points of the main navigation routes. Already in the beginning of the 13th century the Venetians in the Duchy of Cyclades, the Knights of the Temple of St John in Rhodes, the Genovese in Khios, control the Aegean. They start building cities, fortresses and harbours, in order to survive, to maintain their power in a sea of war and to extend their rule, constantly fighting among them and against the Ottomans. The rise of this new network of coastal cities in the Aegean dates from the 14th and the 15th century, 2 centuries that completely changed the political geography of the then known world. This is also the time when the first navigation maps come to life

Chora, Patmos, Greece, by AlexK3800

Chora, Patmos, Greece, by lyng883

Chora, Patmos, Greece, by lyng883

more about urban history:

Brief History of Berlin

A Brief History of Urban Form: Street Layout Through the Ages

Cycles and Urban Morphology - The History of Urban Form

Is India Aiming for Urban Sustainability?

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