The world of Minos; halfway between the historical and the archeological, between fantasy and reality, in the middle of the Mediterranean protohistory but still in the Bronze Age; arouses passions for the discoveries of Evans and others in Crete.
But the works of Marinatos and Doumas in Santorini, the ancient Thera, are even more passionate and much less known. An island, which due to its turbulent relationship with nature, had leading role in the development and death of Minoan civilization.
Rome rose to its maximum expression the phenomenon of the “architecturization” of the city. The urban condition as the creator of its own ecosystem, as the maker of its own landscape, directed the urban societies into an important projection of their necessities and requirements in the obtention of spaces constructed with great relevance and meaning. And this general tendency had in Rome an exceptional development, in agreement with the huge political body it generated through the constitution of the humongous Roman Empire.
The desire of self-assertion of Rome and its leaders, custodians of a huge power and an equally huge economical capacity, found in architecture a very efficient way of expressions, and even more, of impulse and weapons of action for the great political confrontations happening inside and outside the city of Rome. Only this way we can understand the extraordinary political landscape concentrated in the Roman city, due to the wonders of architecture and their high semantic and semiotic significance. The result was giving shape to an urban landscape of such solidness that its urban an architectonic language will be reference for all the Western world cities in our days.
A few kilometers away of Seville, were the locality of Santiponce currently is, we can still see the vestiges of what was one of the most renowned cities of Andalusia: Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica. Many sources point out that this was the birthplace of Roman Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It is particularly due to the later that his city of birth grew and obtained the rank of colonia. Because of this, Italica possessed monumental buildings of huge dimensions, which have lasted like visible ruins for centuries after it was abandoned.
Since the 16th century, the ruins of Italica begin to catch the attention of scholars and travelers. Thanks to them, we have descriptions and drawings of what was left of the Roman city in the hills now planted with olive trees that used to belong to the monks of the neighboring convent San Isidro del Campo. In the 18th century, influenced by the spirit of Enlightenment, excavations were done resulting in the findings of important epigraphic texts and sculptures of great artistic quality. Further on, during the 19th century, during a wave of confiscating ecclesiastic goods, it was possible to do some excavations but under very poor conditions. The names of Ivo de la Cortina and Demetrio de los Ríos are associated with these works, and a wide repertory of great quality drawings are due to them.
During the 20th century, the ruins of Italica have several moments of interest, first when they are declared National Monument with the law of 1911, and later with the impulse given to the archaeological works in the years prior to the great Ibero American Exposition of Seville in 1929.
Finally, in the decade of the 70's excavations in large areas of the city were done to learn which was the urban layout, the current interpretation center was built, and a new period of research began that has produced great results. This corresponds with most of the Italica that we can now visit.
Italo Calvino in his book Invisible Cities expressed how "cities are made for the relationships between the dimension of their space and the happenings of their past", and following this appropriate definition that explains how can a city be understood from the point of view of its memory, he perfectly puts us in front of the case of Ravenna. A city of cities, since the Etruscan period to the present, but with an image strength reaching its maximum by the end of the Antique period and the beginning of the Early Middle Ages. It is along the 5th to 8th century when this city was the capital of the Western Roman Empire (402-476 A.D.), head of the Ostrogoth kingdom (493-540 A.D.), and main Byzantine city of Italy (540-751 A.D.). Urban spaces along which the Romans Honorius and Galla Placidia, as well as the Ostrogoth Theoderic the Great walked, and which reflected the imperial desires of Justinian and Theodora. A landscape of palaces, churches, baptistries, mausoleums, mosaics, houses, commercial areas, ports and productive areas; a reflection of life during a time of changes and transformations. A city constrained by the territory's morphology with numerous lagoons separated from the sea by lines of dunes, and criss-crossed by fluvial courses.
It will be in the 5th century, once Ravenna was already the capital of the Empire, that it will experience its maximum growth, including a significant construction activity that will produce a high-level monumental landscape defined by the confrontation in terms of urban influence with Constantinopla to east. It is during this period when this urban conurbation that we know as Ravenna articulates: with its fortress, the southern suburb Cesarea, and the port of Classe to the south, all of them connected through a big canal running in parallel to the coast. Nevertheless, it is in the 6th century during the Ostrogoth and Byzantine periods when the city acquires its most characteristic physiognomy. The large sanitation works in the swampy areas ordered by King Theoderic, as well as the big push given to Classe port, allowed for the creation of a urban landscape with new religious, Palatine and commercial constructions that transformed Ravenna into a dynamic and bustling capital, which also included a cultural and intellectual centre unparalleled in the West. During the Byzantine period this trend will remain and the traditional relationship with the East will even increase with new buildings, new power architectures, and renewed economic dynamics. This was a time full of meeting points for people, ideas, cultural elements, and goods coming from the different Mediterranean shores (Eastern, Western and North African).
This way, the image of the city was established, and still along the critical periods of the 7th century it offered powerful images and ideas that for example triggered Droctulft, a warrior of the Lombard army besieging the city, to change sides and die defending Ravenna. This image further perdured, and this way, once Carlomagno claimed being the successor of the Roman Empire, he inspired in the buildings and landscapes of Ravenna to build his new capital with Palatine buildings Aachen. The dimensions of Ravenna's space and the happenings of its past contributed to the creation of a fundamental space of the Mediterranean and European memory.