Uncovering Hidden Stories

Urbanism and Architecture

Towns and buildings are an important aspect of archaeology, which studies human activity including how people settle their landscapes. Towns develop very differently over time. Some settlements were important in the past only to be abandoned for one reason or another, surviving only as buried archaeological remains today. Other settlements were established and have continued to be occupied for centuries, with new buildings taking the place of older structures that had fallen out of use. Beneath the historic centres of most European towns and cities lie the traces of earlier settlements visible in archaeological deposits and through historical sources such as maps and drawings.


The oppidum of Puente Tablas is one of the most significant archaeological sites of the Iberians in Eastern Andalusia (Spain), and the place where social, economic and ideological relations developed. The Iberians were one of the most important people of the Iberian peninsula during Iron Age (6th-1st century BC).

In the Renaissance, interest in Roman antiquities stimulated the creation of maps like the one illustrated by Giacomo Lauro. These maps reproduced ancient monuments or their ruins with great attention to detail, often isolating features to compare them with parts of other buildings. They were carried out partly to collect study material to be used for the design of new architectural forms inspired by Roman architecture.

The Little Mitropolis is a Byzantine-era church in Athens. Despite its small dimensions, the church is an architectural treasure. Its building technique is very peculiar - the exterior is almost entirely built of reused material (spolia) ranging in date from Classical Antiquity to the 13th century AD.

Report and data of archaeological research and excavation in Dordrecht conducted by the Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) in 1982-1985 and subsequent research by the municipality of Dordrecht as a part of the program Urbanisation of the Dutch river area during the Middle Ages. The report gives detailed information on the building history, housing and urbanisation of Dordrecht in the early 13th century and the post-monastery period. The image below shows an unedited and an edited picture of a painting of John the Evangelist decorating a wall of a crypt in the nave of the church.

Archaeological research of the 13th century Franciscan monastery in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, KNAW-DANS CC0 (opens in new window) Left: Unedited picture of a painting of John the Evangelist; Right: Edited version, KNAW-DANS CC0 (opens in new window)

Gediminas’ Tower is the surviving part of the Upper Castle in Vilnius, dating to the 15th century. It is a well-known landmark and a popular tourist site. Gediminas Castle, with the flag of the Lithuanians, is also the symbol of independence. This is the main reason why it is shown in many postcards and paintings.

Wilton Windmill was built in 1821 and was in operation for around 100 years as a flour mill. After the introduction of steam powered mills for the production of bread flour, windmills gradually fell out of use. Wilton Windmill was one of many that were abandoned. It fell into disrepair, but was restored by a team of volunteers during the 1970s and today is fully operational again. The image is important for the theme because it depicts a type of industrial monument used across Europe through the medieval and early modern periods for generating power, becoming common again in today's landscape in the form of wind turbines.

Rudolf Lubynski (Zagreb, 1873 - 1935) was one of the most prolific Zagreb architects in the years before World War I and designed numerous houses, residential and commercial buildings. His most important work is the building of the National and University Library (today hosting the Croatian State Archives, 1911 - 1913) stands on Marulićev trg in the middle of Zagreb's Green Horseshoe - a massive U shaped system of parks and squares. The library building is the best example of Art Nouveau Gesamtkunstwerk in Croatia. The dome above the main large reading room is decorated with sculptures of four owls carrying globes, the facades are decorated with reliefs - allegories of four university sciences (Theology, Philosophy, Medicine and Justice) by sculptor Robert Frangeš. The south façade gable is carrying the Allegory of Education by Rudolf Valdec.

Cooperative Bank is one of the well-known landmarks of Ljubljana. The building is an example of the Slovene national style in architecture. The façade stands out with its vivid tricolor. The inside of the building has decorative motifs taken from folk art.