Call for Papers – Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages

CFP: Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages

Society of Architectural Historians 2021 Annual Conference
April 14–18 in Montréal, Canada
Session Chair: Kristine Tanton (

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.


Proposals are be submitted online. Link available at:

Submission Guidelines:

  • Abstracts must be under 300 words.
  • The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Only one abstract per conference by an author or co-author may be submitted.
  • A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted.

Please attach a two-page CV in PDF format.

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