About the project

About the project

Grand Tour – an exceptional journey that reached its peak in the 18th century thoroughly changed human perception of nature and society. Getting to know the world, man questioned his own identity. The inherited spirit of a place, which the writers and artists from that period were trying to capture and convey, transmitted almost mythical traits onto nature and the cultural heritage, thus creating the need to establish a firm bond between man and his environment. From the 18th to the 19th century the revolution in natural, human and technical sciences marks the beginning of modern society and the contemporary approach in arts and architecture.

Although the Grand Tour originally focused on Rome, the exploration of the Ancient World as the origin of Neolassicism widened its scope to more distant parts of the Roman Empire, among which Dalmatia held a prominent position. Drawings and literary works by travel artists and writers from that period are treasured in prestigious European museums and libraries and together constitute a priceless portion of the European cultural heritage.

There are two fundamental reasons why Dalmatia became a major destination of the European Grand Tour in the 18th and 19th century: it presented the fountainhead of Ancient forms, knowledge of which helped in the quest for the universal language of architecture; furthermore, it was almost uncharted territory inspiring the Enlightenment intellectuals to discover and get to know the world.

Ancient architecture presented the dominant cultural infrastructure of that period in Europe. The outline of the European Grand Tour embraces places that preserved the traces of those idealised times. However, travel writers also collected information of another kind; on topography and customs, language and religion, therefore a physical and human geography of the area they wanted to come to know and write about.

In research into the representation of the Dalmatian historic urban landscape, textual and visual travelogues will be studied from perspectives of the eternal and inherited, i.e. “classical” on one side, and “exotic” on the other side. The project will focus equally on the primary motives for travelling around Dalmatia and also on the not so significant, marginal details in travelogues and drawings, almost random transmitters of the spirit of place (genius loci).

For the first time, travelogues (texts and drawings) about Dalmatia from that period will be collected, and selected travelogues will be analysed and evaluated in terms of literary theory and theory of architecture. The overall aim of the project is to identify, problematise and integrate the issues related to the phenomenon of recording the space, predominantly in Dalmatia.

The project focuses on works that were born out of the experience of the Grand Tour. They are seen as:
(1) Historical documents that provide insight into the cultural and spatial dimensions of Dalmatia
(2) Works of art that had a large impact on the development of European Neoclassicism and Romanticism
(3) Sources that enable our greater appreciation of Dalmatia’s current natural and urban landscapes
(4) Records that allow us to explore different phenomena related to the description of space.

A similar model of research could be applied to the territories of Istria and Montenegro, two areas that were often part of the same tour as Dalmatia.
Moreover, as the project centred on Split, the capital of Dalmatia, which boasts a rich historical heritage and also has a recently founded Faculty of Architecture, this would reinforce the promotion of intercultural and interdisciplinary collaboration, in rethinking architecture and nurturing the perception of architecture as culture, thus creating the basis for the preservation and transformation of the space. The promotion of the project could also be an important factor in the reinforcement of the cultural tourism strategy for Dalmatia.

The specific goals of the project

  • establishing a working group of young researchers;
  • raising issues of international relevance related to the description of Dalmatian space based on works of 18th and 19th century artists and writers;
  • researching into the methods of the presentation of Dalmatian space, taking advantage of an interdisciplinary approach and group work, thus advancing the development of research methodology;
  • making research into the contemporary cultural-spatial context applicable to critical rethinking in contemporary approach to architecture and landscape;
  • creating a platform for further research at the international level;
  • establishing a dissemination channel to both European academic circles and a wider audience.

In three years of research the following will be accomplished:

  • research into archival records;
  • field research;
  • creation of a project website that will bring together an chrono-geographical database: interactive digital map of 18th – 19th century Dalmatia interlinked with textual and visual mappings of Dalmatia from 1700 to 1914;
  • two international scientific conferences;
  • four student workshops;
  • eighteenth public lectures;
  • scholarly papers;
  • on-line edition about student workshops;
  • proceeding from conference.