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Vernacular Architecture in Venetian Crete: Urban and Rural Practices

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Abstract The architecture built in Venice’s colony on Crete between its establishment in 1211 and the Ottoman conquest of the island in 1669 displays an intermingling of Western (Latin) architectural traditions with pre-Venetian Byzantine (Orthodox) forms and styles. Previous scholarship has explored the urban architecture of Venetian Crete, but less attention has been granted to the many rural Orthodox churches of the later medieval period that dot the Cretan countryside. While the official monuments of Cretan cities have been interpreted as employing architectural forms with a strong ideological—especially political—intent, the use of forms in rural buildings was not as ideologically charged. These more modest structures employed “Western” and “Byzantine” architectural styles in an ideologically neutral manner that reflected trends in fashion or taste rather than distinctions of cultural or political identity. By the fourteenth century, “Latin” and “Orthodox” architectural traditions had merged into a local style that expressed the cosmopolitan character of medieval Crete.

Affiliations: 1: The Gennadius Library, American School of Classical Studies at Athens 54 Souidias Street, GR-106 76, Athens Greece


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