Spolia

Spolia is the re-use of earlier building material or decorative sculpture on new monuments. Only re-use after Antiquity is included.

Connected Sites

Site Rationale Link
Aachen Cathedral Palatine Chapel: The chapel makes use of ancient spolia, conceivably from Ravenna (wiki)
Belfries he two first floors of the Douai belfry were constructed with materials from the castle of Cantin, which was being demolished at that time, and several buildings in the town. (Nomination file, p. 34)
Berat and Gjirokastra Berat's Helveti Tekke includes five stone columns which were taken from the antique city of Apollonia
Bolgar The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin was built between 1732 and 1734 in the centre of the archaeological site... During its construction stone from the ruined buildings of Bolgar was reused and the wall plinths still carry Arabic and Armenian inscriptions. (AB ev)
Cordoba Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba: The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple which had occupied the site previously, as well as other destroyed Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. (wiki)
Danube Limes "Certainly the first post Roman construction phase led to a considerable number of discoveries of inscriptions and building stones as can be deducted from their frequent use as spolia in Romanesque churches and buildings, sometimes in prominent visible positions and usually with a new Christian meaning." (Nomination file, p. 101) In the church of St. Martin in Linz (ID No 13a) Roman spolia are visible in the interior and exterior walls. (Nomination file, p. 67) Component part 25d (Traismauer – Kastell Hufeisenturm), "the so called Reck Tower or Hungerturm belonging to the northern front of the fort consists of antique masonry, up to the second floor, which contains numerous spolia." (Nomination file, p. 74)
Daphni, Hosios Loukas and Nea Moni of Chios Daphni: the Ionic columns supporting the narthex of the Byzantine church were reused from the Apollo sanctuary that stood on this spot in Antiquity
Ferrara In the center of the Cathedral stands the main altar, consecrated in 1728. It is the work of Celio Tirini, who reused marble from buildings in Ravenna, mostly deriving from the ruins of King Theodoric's Palace of Ravenna.
Kairouan Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba: There are 414 marble, granite and porphyry columns in the mosque. Almost all were taken from the ruins of Carthage. (wiki)
Kasbah of Algiers Some capitals of columns in the Kasbah were recovered from the Roman ruins of the Icosium site. (French wiki)
Longobards in Italy In basilica of San Salvatore and Clitunno Tempietto
Medina of Tunis "borrowing some of the columns and capitals of Roman and Byzantine monuments" (wiki fr)
Modena First, the building is a characteristic and documented example of the reuse of ancient remains, which was common practice in the Middle Ages before the quarries were reopened in the 12th and particularly the 13th centuries. (AB ev) - most visible at facade and entrance of the cathedral
Nice A cathedral and a baptistry were built on the site of the Roman baths of Cimiez, with parts of the baths being reused (e.g. the columns for the baptistry).
Plečnik's Ljubljana "Various materials and elements from nearby structures were employed in the construction of the Gerber passage, including stones left behind when the old Cobblers' Bridge was replaced with a new one, and the iron fence that once lined the central core of the Three Bridges." For the construction of the National Library, "Plecnik had part of the Roman wall removed for the construction, which met with general opposition. He therefore had part of the stones symbolically built into the façade and added several stones left from the demolished Auersperg Palace." (Nomination file, p. 58, 102)
Quanzhou "When Deji Gate was expanded at the end of the 14th century, architectural elements with religious adornments were taken from various structures and graves in the surrounding area to build the foundation of the new wall." (Nomination file, p. 58)
Ravenna The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe: "It was certainly located next to a Christian cemetery, and quite possibly on top of a pre-existing pagan one, as some of the ancient tombstones were re-used in its construction."
Selimiye Mosque "... surrounded by a domevaulted colonnade. The six columns on each side are reused from ruins in Cyprus, Aydincik in the vicinity of Kapidagi peninsula, and Syria." (AB ev)
Susa Shush Castle - "The structure was built by local craftsmen with bricks taken from two other archaeological sites, the Achaemenid Darius/Dariush castle and the Elamite Choqazanbil ziggurat" (wiki)
Syracuse The cathedral (Italian: Duomo) was built by bishop Zosimo in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athena (5th century BC), on Ortygia island. This was a Doric edifice with six columns on the short sides and 14 on the long sides: these can still be seen incorporated in the walls of the current church. (wiki)
Thessalonika The Ottoman Heptapyrgion fortress shows spolia with Greek inscriptions as decorative elements; Hagios Demterios was renovated after the Great Fire of 1917 using tombstones from the Jewish cemetery
Timgad The Byzantine Reconquest revived some activities in the city, defended by a fortress built to the south, in 539, reusing blocks removed from Roman monuments. (Unesco website)
Tower of Hercules "[S]tones of the Tower were reused in (...) new buildings (...), such as the fort of the old town, the Collegiate Church of Santa María del Campo and the church of Santiago (...). [O]ne has the feeling that the surroundings of the Roman lighthouse became a makeshift quarry from which a large number of blocks of stone of a considerable size from all four facades of the Tower, which had collapsed taking with them the access ramp to the rotunda, were extracted." (Nomination file, p. 97) "The looting of materials continued until 1557, when the Town Council banned the extraction of ashlars from the Tower, under threat of fines." (Nomination file, p. 177)
Val di Noto Catania cathedral: "(...) the three semicircular apses, composed of large lava stones, most of them recovered from imperial Roman buildings." The "Baroque façade (...) has three levels with Corinthian columns in granite, perhaps taken from the Roman Theatre of the city."
Venice and its Lagoon Basilica San Marco: Many of these ornamental elements were spolia taken from ancient or Byzantine buildings. Particularly in the period of the Latin Empire (1204–1261), following the Fourth Crusade, the Venetians pillaged the churches, palaces, and public monuments of Constantinople and stripped them of polychrome columns and stones. Once in Venice, some of the columns were sliced for revetmets and patere; others were paired and spread across the façades or used as altars. Despoliation continued in later centuries, notably during the Venetian–Genoese Wars.Venetian sculptors also integrated the spoils with local productions, copying the Byzantine capitals and friezes so effectively that some of their work can only be distinguished with difficulty from the originals. (Wiki)
Wooden Hypostyle Mosques of Medieval Anatolia "stone spolia (repurposed architectural fragments) form the capitals of columns" (AB ev)

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A connection should:

  1. Not be "self evident"
  2. Link at least 3 different sites
  3. Not duplicate or merely subdivide the "Category" assignment already identified on this site.
  4. Add some knowledge or insight (whether significant or trivial!) about WHS for the users of this site
  5. Be explained, with reference to a source