I agree with Michael Sorkin that ‘Cities are units of human accountability to the planet’ (Sorkin 1993: 11). As sensitive reflections of broad societal values, trends and trajectories, cities reflect the highs and the lows of human civilization. Each city is a ‘projection of society on the ground’, and ‘that is, not only on the actual site, but at a specific level, perceived and conceived by thought, which determines the city and the urban’ (Lefebvre 1996: 103). The urban is where ‘social relations . . . project themselves into a space, becoming inscribed there, and in the process producing the space itself’ (Lefebvre 1991 in Soja 1996: 46). Those inscriptions help us read the spatial textures of the city, its agoras, streets, squares, fortresses, markets, palaces and prisons, as texts with which we can decipher the social origins and ideological charge of certain historical epochs.