Around the World in 80 Models: Segovia, pt. 1

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Hop on board as we continue our journey Around the World in 80 Models! We began our itinerary at Sketchfab headquarters in New York and are working our way through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South America, and North America. To catch up on past destinations, check out the rest of the Around the World in 80 Models series.

This week we meet up again with Sketchfab Master Néstor F. Marqués, who takes us to his hometown of Segovia to show us a great example of Romanesque architecture.

Segovia, Spain: La Iglesia de la Vera Cruz

Hi, I’m Néstor F. Marqués, researcher in 3D Heritage and today we are going to stop in the beautiful town of Segovia (Spain), declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1985. Best known for its Roman aqueduct, Segovia is a medieval town almost frozen in time which preserves its original 12th Century walls (the most complete ones in Spain), also has some of the most important examples of Castilian Romanesque architecture in Spain, a castle which has been royal residence since the medieval age (12th Century) and feels like going back to the past in every corner.


Fig. 1: Aerial view of the Roman aqueduct and the medieval town of Segovia.

As you may have already noticed, I have deep feelings for this town and its heritage; well, I was born there, so let me feel proud of my homeland.

Today I want you to join me in a virtual trip to the first church out of two churches we’ll explore. The first one is going to be the Vera Cruz (true cross) church, situated outside of the city in a place of quiet rest and peace to pray. It was dedicated on September 13, 1208 AD by the knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. It is a Romanesque church with a single nave and a dodecagonal plan, which makes it unique in its kind. Afterwards the church has been also linked to the Templar Knights, peace of mind and mystic energies (I let your judgement believe in the latter ones or not).

The most important aspect lies in its uniqueness as a church but also as a Romanesque building from the 13th Century and as a spectacular heritage monument. The Vera Cruz church can be used in several disciplines as an example: mathematical perfection of its construction for mathematicians, splendid architectural design for architects, beautiful Romanesque decoration for art historians and also historical importance and significance for historians. And that is the main reason I decided to turn it into a 3D model for everyone to enjoy and admire it from anywhere in the world.

At first, 3D scanning the whole church in detail seemed like a great challenge for me. I got in contact with the drone division at Leica Geosystems Spain which offered their equipment and accepted our challenge to make a photogrammetric scan of the church. We made the scan with one of their latest UAVs the “Aibot X6 Hexacopter” (fig. 2)

Fig. 2: Frontal view of the Aibot X6 Hexacopter.

Fig. 2: Frontal view of the Aibot X6 Hexacopter.

We ended up taking up to 1,600 images of the church from every angle possible, some from the ground and mainly from the UAV’s perspective. We even managed to take the inside part of the tower from the outside of it (check it out in the final model). After a few weeks of work processing and post processing all the resulting data, we were able to present and publish the most geometrically accurate model ever made to date of this amazing church for everyone to explore it and to look at it from a completely new perspective.

Fig. 3: 2D Render of the final result showing the wireframe, mesh and texture of the model.

Be sure to catch the second leg of this trip in part two of this trip!

About the author

Abby & Néstor

Abby and Néstor are Sketchfab Masters.
Abby Crawford, Ph.D. is trained in and passionate about Roman Archaeology and works as a freelance artifact illustrator and 3D scanner in California.
Néstor F. Marqués is a virtual Heritage & cultural diffusion researcher, and an enthusiast of ancient Rome’s culture.

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