PSKOV (K. I. Gorbatov, 1910)

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This painting was painted by the Russian artist Gorbatov Konstantin Ivanovich (1876-1945). The city of Pskov took a special place in his canvases, he devoted more than 30 works. In 1910 he was awarded the second prize at the Spring Exhibition of the Imperial Academy of Arts for one of these paintings. Later, all these paintings were exhibited at various exhibitions. This picture shows the river Pscova, the inner port and the fish market. At this time the port of Pskov was already an important type of economic activity. The main important activity was transportation of goods. To the left of the market you can see houses with shops on the 1st floor. In the background, the walls of the Kremlin are depicted, followed by the Trinity Cathedral.
The Pskov Region is in the northwest of the Russian Plain. It is stretched by a narrow strip from the north-west to the south-east. The city itself is located on both sides of the river Great places of confluence of the Pskov River in it. All major historical zones in these three rivers. The central part of the city includes the territory inside the walls of the Roundabout, bounded by the Velikaya and Pskov. The Zapkovye region is given a place on the right bank of Pskov, and Zavelichye is located on the left bank of the Velikaya. The shores of the Velikaya are connected by three bridges. Near the Kremlin is the Olginsky Bridge, which connects the main street of the right bank – Oktyabrsky Prospekt, with the main thoroughfare of Zavelich – Riga Avenue. Two more bridges – the 50th anniversary of October and Alexander Nevsky – are respectively higher and lower in the course of the Velikaya.
Pskov is a city and administrative center of the Pskov region, Russia, located about 20 kilometers from the east coast of Estonia, on the Velikaya River. When was built Pskov is unknown. The first mention of it in the annals dates back to 903, at that time it was already a major trading city. It was built between the two great rivers Velikaya and Pskov. Over time, Pskov did not expand like all Russian cities are concentrated in circles, but where there was a more likely threat of attack.
Facades of buildings of the late XVIII – early XIX centuries. were solved in accordance with the compositional schemes of classicism. At the same time in Pskov, the most widespread was the non-disordered version of the style – without columns and pilasters. In case of access to the warrant, pilasters were sometimes used. Columns were rarely used, usually in church buildings. On the central streets of the city, new buildings were built with upper floors made of wood and the first floors of stone, they usually housed benches. . The second half of the XIX – early XIX centuries. became the most fruitful period in the construction life of the province of Pskov. In the construction of the city, new types of buildings, unknown before, appeared: profitable houses, banks, a railway station, etc. Old wooden houses were demolished, and large stone buildings were erected in their place. The number of storeys of erected buildings (up to five floors) increased. Widely used in the construction of houses began to find metal and glass, and at the end of the century – reinforced concrete. Since the 1880’s. began to use sewage and water, and from the beginning of the XX century. – power supply, ventilation and air conditioning system.
During the 18-19th centuries the Pskov province developed as an agrarian province, with a small number of working population. In the markets and squares, flax was sold, which was processed here, fur, honey, wax and fish. They bought salt, cloth, iron. One of the reasons for the weak development of industry in the province was the lack of resources of minerals. For this reason, metalworking, for example, was forge in the industry. By the end of the 19th century, the first newspaper had begun to appear in Pskov, the construction of a railway had begun and a water pipeline had been built.
During the First World War (1914-1918) Pskov became the center of great activity behind the lines. It was on the railway in Pskov aboard the imperial train that Tsar Nicholas II signed a manifesto announcing his abdication in March 1917, and after the Russo-German Brest-Litovsk peace conference (December 22, 1917 – March 3, 1918), the German Imperial Army Intruded into this area. Pskov was also occupied by the Estonian army from May 25, 1919 to August 28, 1919 during the Estonian War of Independence.
During the First World War (1914-1918) Pskov became the center of great activity behind the lines. It was on the railway in Pskov aboard the imperial train that Tsar Nicholas II signed a manifesto announcing his abdication in March 1917, and after the Russo-German Brest-Litovsk peace conference (December 22, 1917 – March 3, 1918), the German Imperial Army Intruded into this area. Pskov was also occupied by the Estonian army from May 25, 1919 to August 28, 1919 during the Estonian War of Independence.
Anna Chernyshova


STOCKHOLM (Frans Hogenberg, 16th century)

Captura de pantalla 2018-04-17 a las 9.05.16

We are in front of two engravings made during the decade of 1570 where it is possible to appreciate a sight of the city of Stockholm. The engravings are part of the work Civitates Orbis Terrarum, published in 1588 by the Theologian Georg Braun. The original author or the drawing is unknown, nevertheless, the painter and engraver who re-made this work was Frans Hogenberg. He was born in Malinas (1535) and died in Cologne (1590). He was a famous German painter and engraver because of his drawings that showed many cities and wars in the 16th century. In some other versions the roofs were coloured in red on the small buildings. This is incorrect because they were actually green as the roofs were covered by a green “meadow”. This is because in winter the heat was kept much better.

The origins of Stockholm go back to the year 760, when the vikings founded a commercial square in Birka. It bloomed during the IX and X century; nevertheless, it was abandoned in 950 and disappeared. Around the year 1000, appeared the city Sigtuna, which still exists nowdays. Birger Jarl founded that city in 1252. At that moment it was a defensive position, around the castle (Tre Kronor). This castle was placing where nowadays is located the Royal Palace. It was also constructed a great Christian Cathedral devoted to Saint Nicholas (Storkyrkan). Therefore, in 1289, Stockholm became the most important city of Sweden.

We can appreciate the downtown, where we can find the castle, Riddarholmen’s Church and the Church of Saint Nicholas. Around the most important buildings of the city, we can find the Saltsjön’s bay, which was created as a defense against to the enemies. In addition, the city is surrounded by a defensive wall. Inside the wall, there were the richest neighborhoods, belonging to the nobility and the bourgeoisie. We can see that the distribution of the settelements was irregular but not so notable as the settlements located out of the city. In addition, we can appreciate a small settlements out of the city wall and next to the seaside. This suburban area was the poorest place of the city. The buildings were constructed with an irregular urban layout, without no organization. 

Around the bay there are several ships, which could mean the existence of trade. Nevertheless, the bay is interrupted by a bridge that connects the city and the center with the settlements located outside. The city was based thanks to the ranching and the agriculture due to the existence of mills far away from the mountains located on the left side and some isolated settlements, which indicates the use of farms.

Francisco Naranjo Granados


ANTWERP (Georg Braun & Franz Hogenberg, 1572)

Antwerp-Individual work

This picture was created by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg, two German cartographers. It was published in the end of 16th century, in 1572 approximately, and belongs to an atlas created by Braun along with several collaborators. This atlas was entitled Civitates Orbis Terrarum and is one of the most complete collection of panoramic views, plans and textual commentaries of cities in Early Modern Times. The image to be commented in this post is a map of the preindustrial city of Antwerp, one of the most important market towns in Belgium along with Brugge.

In the 14th century, Antwerp became the most important commercial and financial center in Western Europe. Its reputation was based mainly on its port and its wool market. Its splendor was also due to its system of fortifications that aimed at protecting the population. Initially, the city was annexed to the county of Flanders, which made Antwerp lose great importance, but fifty years later Antwerp went into its Golden Age and became an international metropolis described as “the most beautiful city in the world”. From the 15th century onwards, it began an economic development of the city becoming one of the most important commercial centers in Europe. In the second half of the 16th century, the city was the center of the political-religious struggles between the Protestants of the north and the Catholics of the south controlled by Spain. That situation led to the closure of the Scheldt and supposed an economic disaster,  so it was easy for Spain to conquer the city.

The economy of Antwerp was very good due to its large port with its strategic location in northern Europe and the surrounding Scheldt River, which also served as protection. It was a platform for addressing merchandise both export and import for Belgium and other countries. Antwerp was known for its exports of textiles, paintings and prints for Europe, particularly for Spain and America.

The fortified structure of the city is observed with great clarity, surrounded by a channel that served as defense. The urban layout is mostly irregular. In the west side we can find the river Scheldt and the port, which was essential for Antwerp as it became one of the most important cities in Europe in terms of commercial aspect. Next to the river is located Steen Castle, an old medieval fortress to control the access to the Scheldt. A few streets on the right is the Grote markt square, which is the main square of Antwerp and where the town hall is located. This building was included in the list of World Heritage Sites by the Unesco in 1999. Next to the Grote Markt, are located other relevant constructions of the city, such as the Cathedral of Our Lady, which is the largest in Belgium and one of the most important in Europe, as well as an Unesco World Heritage Site. The rest of the city was composed of different houses and churches, such as the church of St. Jacob and St. Paul, which was linked through multiple streets, usually short and irregular. 

Gothic is the most popular architectural style of the city, as we can see in the Cathedral of Our Lady, built between 1352-1521 and considered one of the most important Gothic cathedrals in Europe. Also in the church of St. Jacob, built between 1491-1656, and in the church of St. Paul, built in 1571 on the outside, although its interior was Baroque.

Ángela Ladrón de Guevara Hernández

ZAMORA (Muirhead Bone, 1936)


This work of art portrays the city of Zamora from the opposite shore of the Douro River. It belongs to the book Old Spain, a portfolio written and illustrated by Muirhead and Gertrude Bone, a Scottish couple who travelled through Spain between 1925 and 1928. The book included images of Spanish streets, marketplaces and squares. The paintings were made in London in 1936, by Muirhead, after their journey. Thus, this engraving exhibits the city of Zamora and its activity in the 20th century. Nowadays, this painting belongs to a private collection.

In the image we can distinguish two areas, divided by the image of the Douro River, which served as a protection for the city but was also involved in many social and economic activities: in the foreground we can observe the development of some social activities such as women taking water from the river in jugs or people taking the cattle to drink. We can also see some economic activities, typical from Zamora at that time, such as the farming of sheep. In addition, although we cannot see much of the surroundings of the city, we can suppose it is a rural area with cropfields. This is because in the early 20th century, Zamora was still an agricultural production center based on the gathering of wheat and grapes, with no industry. Hence, not being the life of its citizens very different from the medieval times.

Furthermore, in the background we can observe the urban area, specifically the area of the Cathedral, which represents the origin of the city. Zamora rose on a strategic hill, defended to the south by the Douro River. The period between the 10th and 13th centuries is considered as the one with the greatest political and economic splendor of the city, which is the main reason to why Romanesque style buildings are so abundant in this area. 

Moreover, as a medieval town, the urban layout of Zamora is irregular. Thus, the town pattern is nucleated, as houses are all clustered at the top of the hill and mostly inside the City Wall. This wall is also one main feature of the Medieval cities. It served as a protection for citizens against foreign invasions and other threats. In addition, the castle of Zamora was built in the 11th century. However, it differs a lot from the castles built at that time. It is a strong fortress instead of a palace, which was the custom at the time. It is said that the wall, as well as the castle, reflects perfectly the history of Zamora.

To conclude, Zamora was the setting for many historic significant events which has had a clear impact on the architecture of the city over the years. An enormous amount of battles and conquests between Muslims and Christians armies took place in Zamora between the 8th and 10th centuries. Besides, in the year 1067, Sancho II put a siege on Zamora that lasted more than seven months and the citizens resisted heroically, giving rise to the famous saying: “Zamora was not won in one hour”.

Carmen Rasero Candelario




This image engraving represents a map of old Novgorod around XIII century. Unfortunately, before XVII we have not got any dealings about cartographers. Presumably, it was a king’s cartographer, because this map show us a lot of important parts of the city and it made really good (at that time, more than 50 % of population were uneducated in Russia). The original map belongs to the collection of the National historical Russian museum in Moscow and it is published in the Internet by Getty Images. It is a map of the capital of Russia, which shows the cultural, economic, political and social structure of ancient Russia during the XII and XIV centuries.

This image portrays the city-Novgorod, which is located on the 2 sides of Volhov river. The river divided the city into two sides: the Trade side and the Sophia side. The Trade side had a market square and trading yards and rows, being its main place the court of Yaroslav (the prince of these lands). This place represented a vast area, near which several churches were built. Here was a tower, in which the veche[1] was usually gathered. Next to it there were the Gothic trading yard, the German one and others. The trading side consisted of two parts or two «limits» of the city.

The main part of the city was Kremlin on the Sophia side. It was quite a long fortress, surrounded by walls with towers and gates. The prince lived with his retinue and the Novgorod ruler (archbishop) in the Kremlin. Here was the main Novgorod church -St. Sophia Cathedral-. Around the Kremlin there were settlements, which was formed from separate villages and was divided into three parts, or the «limits». There were two more walls with towers and gates. These stone walls were built in the 12th or even 13th century, and earlier in Novgorod, as in other ancient cities, fortifications consisted of earthen ramparts and fences.

Each «limit» of Novgorod had its own veche and was divided into two hundreds. Hundreds were divided into streets. Accordingly, they were headed by the elders. During the war, each street, one hundred and the end constituted its military unit, which was part of the general army. The trade and the Sophia side were connected by a bridge.

Novgorod was politically independent and isolated. He turned into an independent state, in which the supreme power belonged to the Veche. The Veche elects princes and expels them; Veche establishes new laws, approves treaties with foreigners, solves questions about war and peace. Veche judges the most important persons and important matters with the Word, the Novgorod veche directs the whole political life of Novgorod and its lands. The place of the assembly was visited by the “Yaroslav’s court” (the square at the auction on the Trade side) or the area in the Kremlin near St. Sophia.

The population of Novgorod and its lands was divided according to their property into two groups: people of the best and smaller. The first group belonged to Novgorod boyars and merchants. It was a rich Novgorod elite, owning land in different places.

It is worth noting that the entire Novgorod country was infertile. It was covered with mosses and swamps, it could not feed the population with a scarce stock of its bread and forced the Novgorodians to engage in fishing, hunting and other crafts. In exchange for bread, they sold to the east those goods that they got from their western neighbors on the Baltic coast; it was fabrics, metal things, wine, fruit. So the lack of bread created for Novgorodians the need for trade exchange and led to the development of Novgorod trade, which became the main occupation of Novgorod.

Until the end of the XV century Novgorod remained a political, commercial and religious center of the territory subordinate to it. This is the first experience of a democratic system, which can be called successful, despite all the complexities and shortcomings of the social life of Novgorodians. Novgorod icon painters, artisans, builders left us so many material monuments of the era that Novgorod rightfully received the nickname of “Russian Florence” and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kseniia Melnikova

[1] Veche- In Ancient Russia: a meeting of city residents to solve public issues. Also the venue.