September 3, 2016


…a continuing abbreviated History of Western Architecture

Brunelleschi’s Florence Cathedral Dome.

After all those architectural history classes I took, could I remember what made Renaissance architectural styles so important?  It turned out, this style is another straight line this time a U turn right back to the classical Roman.  “Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical antiquity” (1)  That told me.

In Florence, Brunelleschi was one of its “innovators,” and this style quickly spread across Europe in various degrees.  The architects of the Renaissance consciously brought back the classical styles.  Among other important parts of the Renaissance “architecture became not only a question of practice, but also a matter for theoretical discussion.  Humanism emerged.  Printing played a large role in the dissemination of ideas.  The first treatise on architecture was De re aedificatoria ("On the Art of Building") by Leon Battista Alberti in 1450.” (1)  It was a busy time of innovation.

The open ceilings of the earlier era’s disappeared.  Now the focus was on flat ceilings, square buildings, and Roman influences which were topped by glorious domes.  Arches and pilasters helped create the feeling of balance and “proportional logic, its form and rhythm subject to geometry, rather than being created by intuition. (1)

There are three periods in Renaissance architecture that remain as influences today.  In the Early Renaissance, or Quattrocento, the rules of order were made.  In the High Renaissance, the Antique orders were used with greater strengths.  “During the Mannerist period, architects experimented with using architectural forms to emphasize solid and spatial relationships. The Renaissance ideal of harmony gave way to freer and more imaginative rhythms”…think of Michelangelo and his buildings in Rome.


Donato Bramante’s Tempietto, S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome

Andrea Palladio, who is considered the most influential architect of the Renaissance, “was to transform the architectural style of both palaces and churches by taking a different perspective on the notion of Classicism. While the architects of Florence and Rome looked to structures like the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine to provide formulae.”  He shrank the design of the three arches and used them as windows and in churches.  They are now called the Palladian Arch.

Renaissance architecture evolved into the Baroque.  In Italy it evolved along one of those straight lines.  Slowly architecture attempted to break the classical rules. 

Palladio’s Villa Rotonda



  1. Wow, very nicely stated. Could have been a college paper!

    1. And now I can type it myself. Thank you again for typing my college stuff. :)
      There's a previous entry covering the Greek and Roman. I've been trying to compress it all for my friend Tabor.

    2. PS...and it all started from a small entry on Vegas architecture. LOL

  2. Interesting post as usual!

    I love to visit Baroque churches but can't imagine going regularly to worship there. Too much distraction!

  3. I have looked at architecture more closely as my interest in photography developed looking at angles, shadows and highlights. I do like this period because it seems so substantial while being romantic...?


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