Does a perfect city exist?


The work of Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) presented an ideal society concept in his famous philosophy work ‘The City of the Sun’. The publication was composed during the time he spent in prison, where he was put for leading a political movement conspiring against the Spanish rule in Stilo. The aim of the movement was liberation of the town and establishment of a new social order. Campanella’s political views and utopian ideas, which have caused the imprisonment, are reflected in the composition. A significant inspiration was drawn from his knowledge about the development of Inca Empire, which was enabled by the continued discoveries of the culture of Native Americans.

The most interesting feature of Campanella’s imaginary city was a so-called ‘architecture of knowledge’. The city was described to be made up of a number of walls covered with inscriptions containing the knowledge of the sciences known at that time such as mathematics, biology, philosophy and history. Therefore design of the city would become a storehouse of human knowledge. The residents of the city would be expected to educate themselves when passing by the walls carved with information about different sciences. Campanella imagined the city to be separated from other neighbouring living in accordance with old rules and laws. However, because the City of the Sun would stand out positively, the author expected other settlements to gradually adopt the new order.

There would be a large seven story tower located in the centre and surrounded by series of smaller regularly arranged buildings. Each of the floors of the tower contained common living and working spaces and study rooms situated on the ground and first floor. The city described by Campanella was intended to serve as a self-sufficient cell or unit of society and thus could be replicated. A large variety of things in the City of the Sun would be considered to be common property, for example, this includes houses, rooms, beds and domestic appliances. People would share houses they lived in and would be obliged to move to a different place every six months.

Do you know any ohter examples of ideal city? Have you ever heard about other Utopists and philosophers? What kind of theories do they have?


Miles, M., 2008. Urban Utopias: The Buit and Social Architectures of Alternative Settlements, London: Routledge

Schoepflin, M., 2002. Tommaso Campanella: La Citta del Sole e il Capolavoro Dell’ Utopia. [image] Available at: http://www. meteoweb.ew/ 2011/06/tommas0-campanella-la-cite del sole-e-il-capolavoro-dell%E2%80%99utopia/63371/ [Accessed 22 September 2014]

One thought on “Does a perfect city exist?

  1. Hi Alina! I have not heard about an ´ideal city´ by T. Companella before – or rathe a “The City of Sun”. I am glad you brought it up, but I would be interested in your personal opinion about his idea as well and why did this particular ´ideal city´ draw your attention. It has some curious ideas, as for example the one about changing homes every six months. Can not imagine it to work in the current society. I wonder how different this ideal city composed in 16th or 17th century differs from the very first ones by Plato or Aristotle that were designed or rather thought about Before Christ already. I find their ideas of ´ideal city´ very timeless and lot of them still applicable in today’s world. Not likely for the ´ideal cities´ by St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas whose ideas were aimed towards god and divine right – “City of God”.
    Anyways, I find it very useful to go back in time to look into philosophy of urban design and planning. Often we can find the same questions that had been asked 2,000 years ago and we still do not the right answer. That makes me wonder if we simply need more time or the answers simply do not exist.

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