Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, men and women of diverse social classes traveled from near and far to visit key pilgrimage sites such as the Holy Land, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and Mecca. In addition to these famed destinations, local sites and saintly relics increasingly attracted large groups of visitors, and were used as justification for sumptuous building projects. Because pilgrimage sites provide logical points of contact for the exchange of ideas, experiences and commerce, art and architectural historians developed a narrative that suggests there was a particular architectural form with specific features in order to make it easy for visitors to navigate the space. As a result, studies have traditionally focused on a specific church, mosque or shrine, often neglecting the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive large groups of visitors (e.g. inns, bridges, and roads).

The proposed session seeks to extend traditional inquiry to consider the varied design solutions employed in the Middle Ages to accommodate the diverse uses of pilgrimage spaces. Session proposals may consider questions such as: How do pilgrimage sites accommodate large and diverse groups of visitors, while also serving a local community? Are there more fruitful ways to discuss medieval pilgrimage and its architectural solutions? Can new approaches to data and visualization aid in analysis of the diversity of buildings both along established pilgrimage routes as well as less well-known destinations? How can the consideration of landscape or topography change or enhance our understanding of pilgrimage spaces? How can we integrate discussion of the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive pilgrims when so few examples survive? The session welcomes papers on subjects from Latin, Byzantine, and Islamic contexts.

Key Dates

June 10, 2020, 11:59 pm CDT
Deadline to submit a paper abstract

June 15, 2020
Session Chairs start reviewing paper submissions

July 10, 2020
Session Chairs make final selection of papers and notify speakers who are accepted

July 31, 2020
Session Chairs notify authors of paper not accepted

August 13, 2020
Registration and Annual Conference Fellowships open to Session Chairs and Speakers

September 30, 2020, 11:59 pm CDT
Deadline for Session Chairs and Speakers to register and deadline for Annual Conference Fellowship applications

January 5, 2021
Early Registration opens

February 17, 2021
Early Registration closes and tours and events open to the public
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Apr 14 - 18 2021


All Day


Hotel Bonaventure Montréal
900 De La Gauchetiere W. Montréal, Quebec H5A 1E4, Canada


Society of Architectural Historians

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