I think we can all agree that Roman architecture is pretty amazing. That stuff lasts until the end of time, while we build buildings that are falling apart after a couple decades of abandonment. Roman architecture is absolutely stunning, even after being buried for centuries; for example, we still have places like Lyon still boasting Roman ruins. What is a little hard to see, however, is a few techniques the Romans used to make their lives a little bit easier. Some of these techniques can only be found in places the Romans settled, but some have drifted through cultures throughout time and are still utilized today.
Narrow, winding streets
The classic medieval street. It’s beautiful and not really used today, for a couple reasons. The first is obvious: it doesn’t suit our dependency on automobiles. If you walk around medieval cities, people will still drive through them, though I imagine it’s kind of annoying considering they’re single lane streets; have fun getting lost because U-turns weren’t popular back then!
The other reason is a little less obvious: defense. Of course, in medieval times, defense was a top priority, and these winding streets were actually pretty ingenious. If you don’t know the town, you’re probably going to get lost, and that’s exactly the point. This makes it easy for locals to run away, and hard for attackers to get to pretty well anything.
When I first moved to Madrid, the tall buildings was the first thing I noticed. The Roman architecture is very different than that of the United States: while American buildings are generally a large, single space with walls dividing rooms, older buildings take up less space, but have multiple floors. There’s a reason for that!
In hot, sunny countries, this is how medieval peoples kept cool. Just walk down the street, because the entire thing will be engulfed in shade! Down in Córdoba, Spain, where they’re proud of their 45 degree Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) summers, this permanent shade is a blessing.
The benefits of these medieval floors are threefold:
1. Keeping the home cool
Again, with hot summers, stones are a brilliant way to keep an entire building cool. If you’ve ever walked around Roman architecture in the hot sun and felt the stone against your bare skin, you know what I’m talking about. Because science, stones maintain the coolness you want in your summer home.
2.Easy to clean
All you need is a bit of water and any unsightly dirt (or feces, if you’re in Spain) is gone without a sweat.
3.Keep the dirt off your feet
While cobblestone floors might not be the most comfortable surface to walk on, rubbing your shoes on the edges of the stones is a great way to get all the crap (figuratively and literally) off your feet.