WIT Press

Fortress Churches On The Spanish Mediterranean Coast In The Sixteenth Century


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39 - 49




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WIT Press


A. Palenzuela Navarro


This paper analyses the role of the churches within the defense systems designed in the early modern period along the Spanish Mediterranean coast. The defensive systems include these churches, which are built as a consequence of the turbulent military conflicts between southern and northern Mediterranean countries during the time period running between the Middle Ages and the 17th century. These type of churches can be defined as fortress churches, and are described as elements of defensive architecture used to protect the population and to prevent and control from future attacks.

The fortress church is a typology that stands out within the defensive constructions that are built on both shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These fortress churches share similar morphological and functional characteristics as well as common elements, establishing a new dual typology between the religious and the military. These churches are integrated into the defensive network as a key piece of it.

This construction is linked to the Mediterranean coast of Western Europe, and its emergence will coincide with the rise and expansion of the Ottoman Empire, piracy and corsairs during the 15th and 16th centuries. In that period, elements of military architecture are added to existing churches, but later on, this approach will evolve into the construction of purely defensive buildings where the religious architectural elements are relegated to the background.


church fortress, defense system, typology, Mediterranean coast, military architecture