Holy places in urban spaces: Foci of confrontation or catalyst for development?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Holy places in cities have played various roles. Besides their spiritual and religious aspects, they also constitute a physical monument, which crystallizes the images, features, and fabric of a city’s structure. Today, some cities use holy places as a main catalyst for development; in others the holy places present a deterrent to such development. Conflict over holy places between different national, ethnic, and cultural groups is the main explanatory factor for this obstacle, which eventually leads to economic hardship in the city. The question addressed in this essay concerns when, how, and in what situations does a holy place change from being a city’s main selling point to being its main hindrance. For example, there might be a case of a holy site that presented a deterrent to development and later was transformed into a catalyst after changes occurred in the geo-political, functional, and structural, and eventually, in the socio-cultural situation. Or, in some cases holy places can function as a neutral monument, in the middle ground between obstacle and catalyst. Both internal and external factors can change the nature of holy places in this way. First, I will discuss the role of holy places in shaping the image, structure and function of cities and will focus on the following points: 1. The contribution of holy places to the economic development of cities in situations of peace, stability, and conciliation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHoly Places in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Subtitle of host publicationConfrontation and Co-existence
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781135268121
ISBN (Print)9780415549011
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 editorial selection and matter, Marshall J. Breger, Yitzhak Reiter, and Leonard Hammer.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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