San Sebastian, Iglesia de Santa Maria

This is a far more formal scene than the one preceding, and has a tighter, closer enclosure. While the buildings that face each other across the street are not identical, they are closely related, which is another hallmark of formality.

The church that closes the view is an extraordinary building, lavishly detailed and beautifully proportioned. It does not appear to be centered precisely on the street from which the photograph was taken, and it may stand at a slight angle to it. In earlier times, people were not concerned about precisely rectilinear geometry - they were concerned with proportion and scale, with balance and not necessarily with mirror symmetry, and with interesting detail rather than geometrical purity. I think it's a better approach to building urban areas that hold our interest.

The proportions of the street are lovely. The street is over-square but not extremely so. The entire width of the street is unobstructed by curbs, bollards, planters, etc. The stairs mean that cars probably still cannot negotiate this street, which probably means that children can play safely in it.

All things considered, this is one of the most striking urban views I know of.

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