Foundational grids and urban communities in the Iberian Peninsula in antiquity and the Middle Ages

Book chapter
Change log
Martínez Jiménez, Javier  ORCID logo

The imposition of Roman forms of urbanism in the Iberian Peninsula during the Republican period resulted in the extension of the street grid. This orthogonal arrangement of the urban space was an easy way to distribute and allot municipal plots to settlers. Because of this connection between grids and Roman foundations, the general perceptions has been that grids equal Romanness and the lack thereof equals barbarism (in any shape or form: Visigothic, Islamic, or else). In this paper I want to look at examples of city (Mérida, Córdoba, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia, Lisbon) whose inhabitants in Roman contexts ignored street alignments and respected them in non-Romans phases. These range from partial encroachment of private houses on porticoes in imperial Mérida to the construction of the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the foundation of the new city of Reccopolis. It will be clear that simply because grids appear first in Roman imperial contexts they are not necessarily seen as an essential Roman component of the city by townsfolk in Classical and Late Antiquity. Grids were easy starting points from which to develop a city; they gave an initial structure, but sticking to it is not essentially Roman in the same way that ignoring it is typically anti-Roman. Orthogonal street systems were not rigid grates, they are closer to gridded paper: a useful guideline to keep it tidy, but not a limiting imposition

Town planning, Roman Spain, Early Medieval Spain
Is Part Of
Rome and the Colonial City
European Research Council (693418)