Discover Romanesque: The environmental context

‘Church in the greenery’-type

The isolation of a few medieval sacred buildings was sometimes motivated by the need to be set in a barycentric position over the ruled territory. Hence, this type exclusively applies to churches on which other sacred buildings were dependent, with their related inhabited centres. This is the instance of Pievi, i.e. churches where all the inhabitants of a given territory had to go to be baptized, in addition to occasions concerning particular moments of the liturgical calendar. 
A few sacred buildings standing in an isolated position, for example on top of a rise, allowing a special visual control over a wide portion of territory, assumed in the Middle Ages a strategic-military function, too: in such cases, the occurrence of a bell tower is often pre-existing compared to the church, suggesting a possible use as watching/signalling tower.
With special reference to monastic churches, on the contrary, the isolation from inhabited centres was a strategic choice explained by the need to ensure a defence against enemies and the marshy waters of the plain, but also by the will to exploit at the best the natural resources (stones, wood, water) offered by their wide dominions: the most privileged position was, then, halfway up the mountainside. 

The time of Romanesque