Cities Hosting Holy Shrines: the Impact of Pilgrimage on Urban Form




Pilgrimage, holy city, urban morphology, Mecca, Mashhad


This paper explores pilgrimage in the context of historic holy cities which contain at least one religious complex through which the ritual of pilgrimage takes place. One controversial tension in urban development process of holy cities is the tension between urban growth, on the one hand, and adapting city structure to the needs of pilgrims on the other hand. This paper investigates this issue by referring to experiences of two major holy cities in of Mecca and Mashhad. Both cities are spiritual centers which host millions of pilgrims throughout year. The aim of this paper is to analyze the process of city center transformation in both cities and monitor different policies and interventions that shaped their morphologies up to now. Through historical analysis of urban form, flow of pilgrims has affected the morphology of both cities in similar ways. Accordingly policies and interventions by local officials have shaped the urban center in three similar ways: enlargement and expansion of shrine, vehicular access to shrine, and real-estate speculation. İn the absence of protective and preventive codes and policies both Mecca and Mashhad have lost their historical urban fabric and their cultural patrimonies. Their traditional urban scape and prominence of shrine has been substituted by high rise mega projects. İn a similar way their local crafts and small-scale retails have been replaced by global retail chain.


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Author Biographies

Hossein Maroufi

Hossein Maroufi is Assistant Professor in urban planning at Ferdowsi University of Mashhad. His major research interests are in refurbishment and regeneration of historucal urban fabric and studies of urban history in Iran and the Middle East.
He has been author of several articles and an active member of different urban planning associations

Elisabetta Rosina

Elisabetta Rosina, associate professor at Politecnico di Milano, is competent in design, planning and execution of nondestructive investigations and degradation surveys on buildings, for preservation and maintenance. Her major competencies are in preservation technologies, pecifically for historic buildings, performances and degradation of building materials, diagnostic methodologies and techniques such infrared thermography, gravimetric tests, microclimatic monitoring, psycrometric maps, videoscope, iron/steel structures search inside masonry and instrumental surveys. She is the scientific responsible for the Experimental mobile laboratory of ABC Dept. Polytechnic of Milan. She has been consultant and project manager of: Investigation for the conservation planning and maintenance to localize non in sight elements in buildings and their restoration/replacement,.to.monitor.the.thermohygrometric al status of masonry and buildings elements, to detect risk factors and localize structures/surfaces under risk, to monitor microclimate inside historic-artistic buildings. Sustainability strategies for supporting analysis and investigation.


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How to Cite

Maroufi, H., & Rosina, E. (2017). Cities Hosting Holy Shrines: the Impact of Pilgrimage on Urban Form. ICONARP International Journal of Architecture and Planning, 5, 30–44.