The Renaissance period, which lasted roughly from 1400 to 1600, is one of the rare periods whose name was coined by its own contemporaries. The word "Renaissance" (in French, literally "rebirth") originates in the Italian word "rinascita", which has the same meaning. This word, indicating the revival of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, served the Italian artists and scholars of the period to express the dramatic changes that occurred in the passage to the 15th century.
In the 14th century, following the release of the cities from the feudal rule and their becoming centers of commerce and industry, changes in perceptions of spirituality took place and formed a suitable background for the appearance of the Renaissance. While medieval European culture was subject to the influence of the church, which intervened in all areas of life, since the 14th century, as a result the exile of the Pope in Avignon, and following the Black Death since 1348, the church began to lose its authority among the bourgeoisie, which began to spread ideas of its own.
The Black Death, which killed third of Europe's population, caused an economic stagnation. The plague's survivors inherited its victims, grew rich, and in the 15th century signs of economic recovery appeared. The emphasis on spirituality, which existed during the Middle Ages, was replaced by an emphasis on concrete reality. The bourgeoisie became materialistic and their worldview became more democratic and realistic.
These developments did not lead to total abandonment of medieval tradition. The humanist man of the Renaissance, Pico Della Mirandola (1463-1494) wrote that God the Father, the omnipotent architect, with his mysterious wisdom, built this intelligent world, which is God's cosmic residence.
The love of logic brought Renaissnce people closer to science. Their art was dominated by the rules of perspective, proportion, and symmetry, with the aim of harmony and order. Objective attitude to nature and learning through direct examination brought the Renaissance discovery of scientific laws of perspective when trying to draw a realistic three - dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. While medieval artists were interested in presenting religious and spiritual truths rather than the real physical world, Renaissance artists tried to emulate the real world.
Renaissance culture first appeared in Italy, and the reason is clear. The Italian language developed from classical Latin, and ancient ruins of the Roman buildings were found in almost every town in Italy. Besides these factors, there were also religious, economic, and social factors that brought cultural bloom.
Italy was divided topographically, by the Apennine Mountains, which created separate regions of valleys and plains. Moving from one region to another was difficult, especially during the winter months. Each region developed practices, accent, weighing systems, weights, and coins of its own. This is how the cities were very independent states, with villages scattered among them. These cities were ruled by individuals or families. Sforza family ruled Milan, Gonzaga family ruled Mantua, Malatesta family ruled Rimini, and Medici family ruled Florence. Each such city-state had its own economic base. In Genoa and Venice, it was marine trade, in Milan - arms industry, and in Florence - banking, clothing industry, and international trade.
The crisis in the church and the exile of the Pope to Avignon (which was discussed at length in the chapter Historical Background of the Gothic period) strengthened the independence of the communities of northern and central Italy. The economic situation of the Po Valley cities and especially Tuscany, improved considerably. Tuscan, Lombard and Venetian bankers, financed military operations of European rulers and the papacy. So they greatly influenced the political situation in Europe.
The economic prosperity brought with it numerous wealthy families that led to cultural flowering by becoming patrons of the art. Cultural centers were created in Milan, the capital of Lombardy, Rome, the capital of the Papal State, Florence and Siena, central Tuscany, and Venice, which was the cultural center in North - East of Italy. Smaller centers of culture were the cities of Ferrara, Mantua (Mantova) and Urbino.
Lorenzo de Medici, the most famous among members of the Medici family, known as "Lorenzo the Magnificent," turned Florence into one of the most prosperous and beautiful cities in Italy, and the center of Renaissance. As the head of the Medici Bank, with trading links across Europe and diplomatic talent, he controlled the economic policies of Florence, achieved peace among the city-states of Italy and strengthened Florence.
A key figure among students of the classical heritage was Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) who was most of his life trying to understand the ancient culture and filled with enthusiasm popes, princes, and emperors who wanted to learn from Italy's past. In his eyes, Italy was regarded as the heirs of ancient Rome.
Study of ancient remains influenced painting, sculpture, and architecture. Renaissance painting, which in comparison to medieval painting was more realistic and less focused on religious matters, has evolved independently more than sculpture and architecture, because few paintings have survived from ancient times. However, many of the themes presented in the paintings were inspired by classical culture and Greek mythology
Renaissance culture gradually spread from Florence to other Italian cities. In Rome, under the deserted hills, the old city began to emerge during the years 1450-1600. Scholars of the period have identified old sites and buildings, and artists came to draw inspiration from them.
Italian cities attracted visitors from Western Europe. Merchants and bankers were hoping to get rich in them, and artists and students found in them recognition and publicity. When these visitors returned home, they brought with them Renaissance ideas. Thus, these ideas reached France, Spain, Germany, and the Low Countries. These countries adopted the Renaissance style very slowly, but it has never been as powerful as it was in Italy.
The great writers of the Renaissance were great writers such as William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Rabelais (1483-1553) and Montaigne (1533-1592).
Focusing on the redemption of humankind, and the embodiment of God in the flesh and blood of Jesus in Christianity empowered man. While during the Middle Ages the focus was on man in whose image God appeared, during the Renaissance, the focus was on man as an individual. Placing man at the center of the world gave no importance to any competitor, except God himself.
Aware of his value, and being freer of religious restrictions that controlled his life in the Middle Ages, man's confidence grew. He was enthusiastic about classical culture, aspired for beauty, was interested in the world around him, and was determined to make his mark in the world.
Humanists (the word was coined in 1539) were the intellectuals of the Renaissance, who were engaged in an intensive study of Greek and Latin languages, and classical art and history. They believed that by studying the classical texts they would understand man and the world better.
The spirit of individualism of the Renaissance, which was seen by the scholar Jacob Burckhardt as the essence of Renaissance culture, developed in Italy, more than anywhere else. The artist moved up from the class of bourgeois artisan, to the level of free intellectual worker. The human mind began to become acquainted with its creative nature. Renaissance artist creates not only to praise his country and his native town, or just to glorify God, but also to win esteem in the world, and to have his name remembered in history after his death. Desire for personal fame in the modern sense was born. Renaissance artists signed their works, made a name for themselves, and won fame that their medieval predecessors had not won.
The people of the period were interested in the personality of the artist, and were aware of his creative power, as he himself was aware of it. This approach was reflected in the Renaissance concept of the "genius", who was a stranger to the people during the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge his individuality, originality and spontaneity. The attention, which was addressed to the architect's personality during the Renaissance, encouraged originality.
Architecture, like painting and sculpture, had an affinity to the human body. According to Vitruvius, who wrote his work "On Architecture" in 27 BCE, architecture has to focus on its relation to the human body. Proportional unity is related to parts of the human body, and is expressed in Homo Quadratus - an ideal body of a man standing with arms and legs outstretched to the sides, fitting into a square and circle. Square and circle were considered the two perfect geometric shapes, as seen clearly in the famous drawing of Leonardo da Vinci. This ideal unity is based on module - part of the body, such as foot or hand, that are used as units for measuring the rest of the body. Realization of this theory was reflected in the human dimensions of which architects made use. The standard unit of length in Florence, whose use continued until the transition to the metric system was braccio (literally in Italian: arm) which was equal 0.583626 m.
In the eyes of Vitruvius, the Vitruvian man symbolized the harmonious relationship between man and nature, based on the assumption that the cosmos is harmonious, and the human body echoes this harmony. Renaissance artists connected the ancient concept with religious outlook. Man was created by God, and God is the source of perfection.
The architects who built the Cathedral of Milan in c.1400 said that the proportions between the basis of the pillar in the cathedral and the capital of that pillar should be based on the proportion between the human foot and the human head. The basis of the pillar is also called "foot" and the capital is called "head". The word "capital" in English derives from the Latin words "caput", which means "head", and "capitalis", meaning "of the head".
Filarete (Antonio Averlino) (1400-1469), sculptor and architect who is known as theorist, emphasized the similarity between the buildings and the human body. He wrote that the buildings and the human body become sick and die, if not treated properly. According to him, buildings, like people, need three basic characteristics: beauty, usability, and long life. Regarding proportions, Philarete combined the canon of Greek sculpture of Polycleitus (fifth century BCE) with Florentine measurement methods. Thus, Florentine standards based on the length of an arm, "braccio" are calculated as the size of the head multiplied by three.
Filarete wrote that the head is the most beautiful part of the human body, and the most beautiful head is the head of man, which was created by God. Just as in man the most beautiful is the face, so in the building, the façade is the most beautiful. As man has eyes, the building has windows. As man has a mouth, so the building has a door, and as man eats in order to live, so maintenance is necessary for the building.
Francesco di Giorgio (1431-1501 / 2) returned to the theory according to which the human figure represents the microcosm. His drawings presenting ground plans of churches are related to the shape of the human body, which represents the microcosm. Man, as created by God, in His image, represents the divine perfection.
In city design, Di Giorgio had an anthropomorphic concept as well, whereby, the fortress of the town represents the head, and the walls represent the arms that surround the rest of the body.
Michelangelo believed that architecture should express forms borrowed from the human body. According to him, architecture is related to the human body symmetry around a central axis, as hands are related to the body, or the eyes to the nose.
Churches, townhouses, and palaces of the Renaissance-style show completely original solutions in terms of building space. Unlike the Middle Ages when symbolism played a central role, Renaissance art appeals to a direct relationship with nature and to expressing its beauty.
The attitude toward the architect's work changed during the Renaissance, as it changed toward other arts.
Philosophers who were occupied with Platonic doctrines accepted the idea that the main essence of the artist's work is to embody beauty, but in Plato's approach dominated objective reason, and the work of the individual, which was perceived as disappearing behind knowledge and precise measurement. According to the concept of the Renaissance, the source of the artwork is in the artist and his soul. As opposed to the objective position of Plato, is standing the subjective position of the Renaissance.
The market conditions during the Renaissance, demanded the architect to have original inventive spirit. Florence in the 15th century was a large concentration of patrons competing for city status by building in the city. There was also a competition between architects, who were required to be innovative.
An aspiration that existed during the Renaissance in literature, sciences and arts, to reach eternal truth and beauty, found its expression in architecture using harmonic proportions. The building is perceived as a microcosm that reflects the order of divine proportions. The belief in the connection between microcosm and macrocosm, the world's harmonic structure, and perception of God through mathematical symbols, all these originated in ancient times. They were also found in medieval theology and philosophy, but awoke to new life in Renaissance architecture. Mathematical relations used in architectural design expressed ideal order, which was connected to Pytagorian and Platonic doctrines, and represented the divine musical harmony in stone.
Alberti, who identified musical harmony with good architectural proportions, stated that numbers that are enjoyable to the ear, are also enjoyable to the eye and soul. This concept was also adopted by Palladio (1508-1580). The harmonious order created by God, found its expression in architecture, and above all, in architecture of churches and other sacred structures. The great Gothic churches where the vertical line was emphasized, were replaced by relatively small churches that were closer in dimension to early medieval churches. The ideals of the Renaissance architecture were clarity, simplicity, harmony, balance, and symmetry. These were reflected in centralized plan without orientation or emphasis on horizontality or verticality.
Renaissance architecture deals with the same problems that occupied the painters and sculptors. In Florence, in the twenties of the 15th century, the architect Brunelleschi used focal perspective. Arnold Hauser, in his book "Social History of Art," writes that Renaissance art focuses on a reality viewed from one viewpoint, a structure with a shape that comes from the tension between the wide world and the person facing it.
Renaissance architects adopted the worldview that was expressed in the classical texts. Writings of Vitruvius released the 15th century helped them become familiar with the architecture of ancient Greece, and the desire for harmony that characterized it, harmony between the parts of the building themselves, and between these parts and the entire building.
During the Renaissance, as in ancient times, nature served as a model for all the arts, including architecture. Alberti, following the ancient thinkers, believed that we should imitate nature, which he calls "An artist" or "supreme creator". Vasari wrote that the creation of the artist will get closer to perfect, as it will get closer to nature, because nature is God's creation. Thus, the humanists combined Plato's philosophy with Catholic faith. Nature is a role model for art because it was created by God. The human body is the embodiment of beauty created in the image and likeness of God. According to Platonic philosophers, objects in nature express the embodiment of God in the material.
More than any other classical approach, the Renaissance adopted the approach of Aristotle who wrote that in principle; art imitates nature, or completes that which nature cannot bring into perfection.
Inspired by the writings of ancient books, books of architectural theories were written during the Renaissance. It was only natural that at times when architecture was considered an intellectual activity, architects were also engaged in theories of their profession. One of these architects was Cataneo, who wrote in Venice in 1554 the book "Four Basic Architecture Books" (Quattro Primi Libri di Architettura). According to Cataneo, the central church in the city should have the shape of a cross, because the cross symbolizes redemption. The proportions of the cross should be the perfect body's proportions based on the body of Christ, which was perfect.
Another architect of the early Renaissance, who was much occupied with theory, was Francesco Di Giorgio, who presented the relations between the shape of the church and the human body. In a book published in 1525, he proposed to build a church of nine footsteps in length, because number three squared equals nine. This was an expression of adopting the statement of Pythagoras, according to which everything is numbers
Ancient building techniques served as a source of inspiration for new construction techniques. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the function of architectural drawings became more and more practical. Such a drawing that was attached to the construction contract of Sensedoni Palace in Siena from 1340 has survived. This drawing showed a complete view of the façade with detailed measurements. Although it was drawn in freehand, attaching it to the contract indicates its official character. The fact that the drawing is mentioned several times in the contract indicates that it served the builders, at least in general, to obtain information on dimensions and location of windows and doors.
During the Renaissance, it was customary to make a competition for building. Once the winning architect was selected, his model was presented to show the finished product. At a time when construction took many years, exceeding the life of a human being, the model was an authority against pressures to change the structure, although changes were sometimes unavoidable.
Several models made of wood have survived. Among them is the model of the dome of Florence Cathedral designed by Brunelleschi and the initial model of Sangallo for Palazzo Strozzi. Not all the models were complete with detailed ornaments. Many of them were rough three - dimensional sketches, a kind of presentation of the general idea of the building.
Brunelleschi, in his work, used models in a small and large scale. The dome of Florence Cathedral (whose construction technique will be discussed in detail in the chapter on Brunelleschi) has created several models, which showed the structure without ornaments, probably, to avoid bribing the eye in small details, as Alberti believed. Alberti contended that simple models are the proof of a genius designer.
As for the building, during the Renaissance, in Florence there was a tendency not to leave bare brick walls in important buildings for reasons of taste. They were coated with stone and stucco. Over time, the influence of Florence spread to other Italian cities. So it was also even in a city like Bologna, which was characterized by a long tradition of building with bricks.
Two types of stone were hewn: pietra forte (literally in Italian: a strong stone) and pietra macigno. Pietra forte is a sandy limestone in hues of yellow-brown with blue-gray spots, which was used for building palaces in Florence, including Palazzo Medici and Palazzo Strozzi. Pietra forte is stronger than pietra macigno and more durable. This stone has veins that could cause breaking. For this reason, it is not suitable for use in cornices. Quarries of pietra forte were found in southern Florence.
In pietra macigno we distinguish two types: pietra serena and pietra bigia: pietra serena, a soft stone in shades of blue - gray that served for decorative details in buildings, and characterized the new style. This stone is easier to work with than pietra bigio, and survives longer when coated, but when it is exposed to harsh weather conditions, it tends to fall apart. Pietra serena was known already in the 14th century, but Brunelleschi much used it and made it fashionable.
Pietra Bigio is a sandstone composed of quartz, silicate and mica in soil gray shade with a sparkling appearance. It served for building monolithic columns and capitals that pietra forte did not suit them. In Florence, it has been used, in part, inside the Church of San Lorenzo, the Church of Santo Spirito and the courtyard of Strozzi Palace.
Quarries of pietra bigio were scattered on the hills between Fiesole and Settignano. The stone which was abundant near Florence brought the flourishing of stone industry. Artisans could control all the process of work in stone, from quarrying to the delivery of the final product.
The Economic boom increased the demand for marble throughout Italy and even in its northern part. The building style with rustication that characterized the construction of public buildings in the late 13th century was adopted in the 15th century façades of private palaces of the upper class. Façades were often designed in diamond pattern blocks (known as opus reticulatum). This kind of rustication served for decoration.
Another source of building materials during the Renaissance was reused stones from ancient buildings. Thus, marble from Ravenna was reused in building the church of San Francesco in Rimini. During the term of Pope Sixtus V (served 1585-1590), architect Domenico Fontana planned to turn a part of the Coliseum into a wool workshop, and another part into the workers' quarters. During this period, there was no awareness of conservation of sites, the kind familiar to us today. Pope Julius II looted not only ruins, but also monuments that had survived intact.
The architects who were more than others the main influence on the perception of Renaissance architecture at its beginning were Philippo Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti, so each of them will be discussed in a separate chapter.
Philippo Brunelleschi In Florence, in the early 15th century, Brunelleschi broke the tradition of Gothic architecture, and built, while combining technique and aesthetics imitating ancient forms. The revival of antiquity in the works of Brunelleschi finds its expression in pure forms derived from medieval forms. Practicing harmonious proportions, and emphasis on perspective, are the central elements in his architecture. Brunelleschi re-introduced the ancient orders. Using basic elements such as a square and circle, he created a module that was used as a baseline for determining dimensions of the building's various parts.
Like other Renaissance architects, Brunelleschi never copied complete ancient classical models, as did the neoclassic architects of the 19th century. He borrowed the principles of Roman architecture, and made the designs according to his ideas. His buildings were modern at his time. They can be seen as expressing modern ideas in Latin.
After losing the competition for the design of the bronze doors of Florence baptistery, Brunelleschi traveled with his friend, the sculptor Donatello, to Rome where he worked as a goldsmith, and in his spare time, studied the ruins of ancient Roman architecture in detail.
The Foundling Hospital (Ospedale Degli Innocenti)
In 1419, Brunelleschi began building the foundling hospital in the Santissima Annunziata Piazza in Florence. This foundling hospital, which was built on a land purchased by the guild of silk merchants, is considered the first building of the Renaissance and the first foundling hospital in Europe. It was meant to take care of abandoned babies and orphans, raise and educate them. Women who could not raise their babies were transferred to the foundling hospital. Male infants were kept in this place by the age of 18, and female infants remained there until they married.
Image - The foundling hospital
The configuration of the foundling hospital had precedents in hospitals from the Middle Ages in Florence, such as S. Matteo (now the Academy of Fine Arts). The idea of portico is associated with porticos of the Roman Forum and the loggia (roofed structure with an arcade or colonnade, open on two sides or more), such as the Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria. The loggia here is not a separate element, but part of a building in an urban context. Arches carried on high stilts were inspired by the Church of San Miniato al Monte, which was built in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Brunelleschi, more than any other architect, was occupied with linear perspective, which is clearly manifested in the Church of San Lorenzo. He who enters the church can see the lines marked on the floor, the horizontal lines marked by fine stripes separating the two floors, the square coffers in the ceiling design, the vertical columns and fluted pilasters. All these emphasize the perspective, using orthogonal lines, which meet in a vanishing point in the apse.
Inspired by antiquity, Brunelleschi designed above the arcades in the side aisles of St. Lorenzo, round windows - occuli. The flat ceiling of the nave is decorated with gilded rosettes located within square coffers, as seen in the ceiling of the Pantheon. Groin vaults appear above the intersection area, in the bays of the side aisles, and over the Old Sacristy (Sagrestia Vecchia), in the northeastern corner. Ten chapels were built around the transept. Chapels were added later along the side aisles. A new sacristy was added later in the southeastern corner.
The Church of Santo Spirito and the Church of San Lorenzo have some common characteristics: The Latin cross shaped ground plan, a module in the size of the square of intersection, with a long axis in the size of six modules, and a transept in the size of three modules. Likewise, the square bay of the side aisle equals a quarter of the module. In both churches, the ratio between the width and height of the nave equals the ratio between the width of the side aisle and its height.
Image - Santo Spirito in Florence
While in San Lorenzo the ratio between the arcade and the clerestory is 5:3 respectively, in Santo Spirito this ratio is 1:1. In Santo Spirito, as in San Lorenzo, Brunelleschi presents to those who enter the church a perspective with one vanishing point.
Santo Spirito Church was rebuilt after being burnt down in 1470. This construction was financed from the sale of its many chapels. Influence of traders, which increased during the Renaissance, led to an increase in demand for private chapels. Following this demand, new churches were built, and existing churches were modified. Some of the chapels in Santo Spirito were acquired by large groups of relatives. Chapels of churches were usually used as private burial place. Originally, half - round Chapels could be seen from the outside. Their design in this shape made it difficult to put burial monuments inside them. In many memorial chapels, the donors were not buried. . The only thing that suggests a relationship between the donor and the chapel, was Masses held in memory of the donor. In Santo Spirito there are forty chapels – a visual symphony of semicircles.
Church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence During the years 1426-1436, Brunelleschi became involved in the construction of the huge dome of the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore. This church was actually built in the site of the Church of Santa Reparata from 1294. Santa Reparata, which seemed too small for a relatively rapidly evolving commercial city, gave way to Santa Maria del Fiore, the cathedral of Florence.
The plan of Arnolfo di Cambio with the changes of Talenti, left the church with a big problem - to roof the structure with a dome. Arnolfo's project included a dome, but it was too short. In 1367, it was decided to expand the church, and include a dome 42 m in diameter, with a pointed profile. The dome's construction competition was declared in 1418. The demands of the conditions were building the dome 46 m in diameter on an octagonal base, without scaffolding.
Image - Sta Maria del Fiore in Florence
Brunelleschi won the competition, but the cathedral managers appointed Lorenzo Ghiberti as the inspector of the work. Ghiberti won the competition against Brunelleschi to design the northern door of the Baptistery of San Giovanni in Florence. Brunelleschi was badly hurt and almost broke the model that he built for the dome. Following the advice of his friends the artists Donatello and Luca della Robia, he feigned illness and left the responsibility to Ghiberti, who had to admit that he did not understand the project and was unable to continue working on his own.
Brunelleschi began the work in which he invested his energies for the rest of his life, while simultaneously building more monuments. His plan for the dome was radical. His innovation was merging two elements: a dome in the shape of half a sphere, which was part of the Roman heritage, and pointed Gothic arches. Thus, the dome combines classic and medieval shapes. The dominant construction methods for designing the dome were medieval. The skeleton of the dome was built of eight massive ribs growing from an octagonal base, as in the Palatine Chapel in Aachen.
Brunelleschi borrowed the Byzantine vaulting ideas, using each layer of stone in the dome, as support for the next. The dome was built without scaffolding of wood reinforcement. It consists of nine horizontal rings placed one on top of another. Brunelleschi found out that a dome built of horizontal rings is stable along the entire course of construction. The upper ring at each stage acts as a keystone, and prevents the collapse of the structure inward. The principle of dome construction is similar to the principle of building an arch where the stones, with mutual pressure, support the structure itself. Alberti described this method as the best method for building a dome without scaffolding.
Upon the completion of the dome, remained an opening 6 m in diameter, and a lantern was designed there by Brunelleschi but was built after his death.
A pointed structure of a dome is more stable than half sphere dome-shaped structure, because the forces putting pressure on the base of the dome toward the outside are weaker. To reduce the weight of the structure to the minimum, Brunelleschi designed the dome with inner and outer shells. The inner shell reaches a thickness exceeding two meters, while the outer shell is lighter, and was intended primarily to protect, and provide external architectural appearance. The thickness of the outer shell reaches one-third of the thickness of the inner shell. Between the inner shell and outer shell, there is a staircase leading to the lantern. These steps are designed to facilitate the maintenance of the building. Later, it served tourists visits. The top of the dome rises to 90 m above the ground.
The dome reflects the eclectic character of Renaissance architects. This dome, like other large domes designed during the Renaissance, is not a simple imitation of ancient forms, but the integration of elements from the ancient world with a Gothic look, which was better known to contemporaries.
The outer dome, which was completed in 1434, was larger and more "inflated" than the inner one. Two years later, the lantern was placed and raised the height of the cathedral from 91 m to -114.5 m. Radiant apses were added in 1438. The decoration of the lantern was completed in 1446, around the time of death of the architect.
The dome of Florence Cathedral is immense in size and became the symbol of the city of Florence. It represents an innovative and revolutionary architecture from the Renaissance. Compared to the dome of the Pantheon, which is impressive in the inside, the dome of Florence is more spectacular in its exterior design.
The Façade of Florence Cathedral was designed during the years 1867-1887 by Emilio de Fabris, in a Gothic revival style.
Reconstruction work was carried out at the cathedral during the years 1988-1995.
The interior of the old sacristy resembles the interior of Pazzi Chapel, which will be discussed below. The Old Sacristy has a cubic structure with a hemisphere shaped dome carried over pendentives (curved triangles in the corner of the square in the base creating a passage from the square base to the circular base of the dome), as was customary in Byzantine construction. The dome with the rounded windows at its base is divided into 12 parts. A smaller similar domed cubic structure is the altar of the chapel.
Pazzi Chapel (Capella Pazzi)
Brunelleschi (who died in 1446) could not design the façade of the chapel, which is dated to 1460. The façade is certainly not similar to the façade of a medieval church. The portico in the façade, preceding the chapel is reminiscent of the narthex in early Christian churches. Six columns support the portico's barrel vault with the low dome in the center. A significant innovation is the façade design with a round arch in the center, between two Colonnades. Corinthian columns supporting the entablature (part of the building above the columns' capitals, and below the floor above) in the façade are inspired by Roman tradition. Reliefs in rectangular patterns adorn the wall of the entablature and below them are medallions of the kind that Brunelleschi used to use many times.
The rational and harmonious design that Brunelleschi created was in contrast to the Gothic design. Inside the chapel can be seen a geometric system implementing harmonious proportions between circle and square highlighted by dark gray stone known as pietra serena, against the light stucco walls.
As in the Old Sacristy in the Church of San Lorenzo, Brunelleschi paid attention to proportions. While in the side section of the Old Sacristy the ratio between the height of the wall until the entablature, height of the lunette and the height of the dome is 1:1:1, in Pazzi chapel the division is in the ratio 3:4:5. The 5 refers to the height of the wall till the entablature, 4 – to the height of the lunette, and 3 - to the height of the dome. The division of the structure according to proportions is highlighted by the gray color of the arches, pilasters, and entablature.
Due to the function of the chapel as a chapter house, a low bench runs along the walls of the room. Opposite the entrance is a little altar chapel, square and roofed, which opens on the eastern wall like the Old Sacristy of San Lorenzo, but with richer decoration.
The look of Pazzi chapel is more decorative than any other structure built by Brunelleschi. It shows the harmony of colors on the walls and spandrels against severe gray color. The design of the chapel, which shows purity of lines, inspired Renaissance architects who followed Brunelleschi.
Leon Battista Alberti Architect Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) was a polymath who excelled as an athlete, playwright, linguist, author of music and mathematician. When the Dome of Florence Cathedral was built, he was a young man.
In his book "Ten Books of Architecture" (ten inspired by Vitruvius), Alberti presented a theory of architecture, based on the platonic ideal of perfection and harmony. The ideal church, according to him, should be the noblest ornament of the city, whose beauty will surpass all imagination. It must be isolated and stand on a beautiful high square, far from everyday life that surrounds it. The ideal church's windows will be located high, to avoid eye contact with everyday life. Through the windows of the church, which will be pure and white, and will inspire awe, one will see only the blue sky. It will be a central structure with a dome because the circle and square were ideal in his opinion. Influenced by Neo - Platonian theory, which was prevalent at the time, Alberti saw a circle as a perfect and divine form, and a basis for harmony in nature.
Alberti wrote that beauty is achieved by proportions that are composed together, so that each addition or removal would destroy the general harmony. Harmony in the church is divine and echoes the universal harmony. Proportions in architecture, according to him, are based on the proportions of the human body, as Vitruvius wrote in ancient times.
Alberti was influenced by classical forms, and medieval structures. During his time, the central structures such as the Mausoleum of Santa Constanza, the Baptistery at the Lateran, and even the Baptistery in Florence from the 12th century were considered ancient Roman temples that became churches. Alberti wrote that without the geometric equilibrium in which all parts are connected together in harmony, divinity will not appear. His book was very popular at the time, and influenced his contemporaries and the generations to come.
There were churches where Alberti designed the façade only. In contrast, Brunelleschi left the design of the façades to the end, which is why the churches that he designed were left without a façade.
When referring to ornament, Alberti meant the vocabulary of the classic orders. He applied it in the Rucellai palace (which will be discussed later at length in the chapter describing the palace and the private home during the Renaissance) in Florence, which is the first to present pilasters in the façade of a building. These appear on each floor, as in the Coliseum.
Like Vitruvius, Alberti saw in architecture an imitation of nature. He derived his criteria for judging buildings - harmony, proportion and symmetry, from the natural world. His approach also incorporates the social function of architecture striving to create a rich and orderly world.
Referring to the beauty of the building, Alberti gives an example of the beauty of woman. The body of the building is first built naked, and then, ornament is added. The woman's beauty is a modest beauty. Instead of using makeup, she should keep it clean with water. External cleanliness becomes a sign of internal cleanliness. The white surface of the building, has, in his opinion, the same effect of purity. Alberti was influenced by Xenophon who wrote that he preferred the transparency of men, who show their assets as they are, without boasting about imaginary assets, or without hiding what they have.
The Façade of Santa Maria Novella
It seems that in the façade Alberti paid considerable attention to proportions. The façade can be surrounded by a square shape divided into two floors in the same height (the second floor includes the gable). The second floor can be surrounded by a square. A pair of such square make up the first floor. Alberti created a façade that is based on the shape of three squares within one big square.
During the years 1450-1468, Alberti performed a design work at the Church of San Francesco in Rimini from the 13th century. The person who ordered the work was Sigimondo Malatesta (1417-1468), the ruler of Rimini whose age did not exceed 14 years when he took over the city. The church is named after him - Tempio Malatestiano (Malatesta's Temple). The plan of Malatesta, which derived from his extrovert character and his intentions to glorify his name, was to turn a simple monastic church into a burial monument for himself, his mistress, and contemporary humanists. Enormous niches in the façade were supposed to serve for placing sarcophagi of Zigimondo and his mistress, while the arcades along the sides of the church were made for the tombs of poets and scholars of the court.
Alberti borrowed the theme of triumphal arch from ancient Rome, and introduced it in the façade. This was the church where the idea of triumphal arch was first implemented in the façade of a church, an idea later adopted in designing façades of churches. The great central arch leads into the church. Originally, Alberti, planned to place the sarcophagi of Zigimondo and his mistress under the smaller arches. Ultimately, these sarcophagi were placed on the side of the church beside the sarcophagi of the humanists. Chapels within the church were designed to be used as memorial sites for Zigimondo and his mistress, and for the purposes of religious worship.
San Francesco Church in Rimini was, perhaps, the first in the Renaissance, where there was an attempt to recreate a Roman general appearance, without resorting only to classic details. In fact, Alberti dressed existing Gothic building's appearance with ancient motifs, including a triumphal arch, arches, and pillars borrowed from aqueducts, and a massive dome in the spirit of antiquity. The ancient motifs that Alberti drew from ancient monuments such as the triumphal arch of Augustus in Rimini (from 27 BCE), were found near the church,. The fluted pilasters and capitals were the product of imagination combined with classic elements.
The church building has never been completed, but the medal designed by Matteo di Pasti who was also the construction manager of the church, shows us how it was supposed to look like when completed.
The expensive materials that were used for building the church were taken by Malatesta from churches in Ravenna.
In 1472, Alberti designed the church of St. Andrea in Mantua, which incorporates a triumphal arch shape with the shape of a Greek temple manifested in pediment crowning the façade and stairs leading to the façade of the church. Four Pilasters of the giant Order kind (several stories high from the ground up) seem to support the pediment. The giant order is the innovation of Alberti.
The light in the church is dim in the spirit of Alberti's theory, according to which dim light contributed to the holy atmosphere in the church.
In the 15th century, there were not many centralized churches, although the centralized church was considered ideal among important architects such as Brunelleschi and Alberti.
In his ground plan for the church of Sta. Maria Delle Carceri in Prato (1484-1491), Sangallo first introduced in the Renaissance a Greek cross-shaped church. Without the dome, the church including the cut corners would have a cubic shape, because the height of the church until the drum equals its length and breadth. By cutting the corners of the cube, Sangallo created a form of a Greek cross. Each arm of the cross has a barrel vault, and the dome is supported by these vaults through pendentives. Sangallo continues the tradition of presenting the dome as a symbol of the sky. The only opening in the center of the dome, and the division within the church to 12, are certainly associated with Jesus and his Apostles. The internal division in the church resembles that planned by Brunelleschi for Pazzi Chapel.
During the Middle Ages, the main task of the architects was to build churches. Decline in the importance of religion in the 14th and 15th centuries in European culture, and the increasing importance of the individual, were expressed in more attention to civil construction. This tendency began in Italy.
The Concept of Residence in the Eyes of Alberti
The house was perceived by Alberti as the woman's natural place. In his Ten Books on Architecture, Alberti discusses, among others, private houses whose design is influenced by the status of the woman and man in society. In the fifth book, he writes that women's place should be remote from the outside world, while men need to be exposed to it. He also makes it clear that the honor of men will not increase if their wives walk around the market, seen in public. He himself would feel humiliated, to some extent if he himself would remain indoors between women, when he has to do male things that men do. According to him, bum creatures living all day among women, or engaged in unimportant feminine activities, have neither grand nor manly spirit. This approach to living revives the approach, which was prevalent in Antiquity. It seems that in this area as well, the Renaissance adopts ancient views.
Alberti designated for the man a private space of his own at home - his study. A study is a small, locked room that no one entered, except the father. Such rooms, appeared in the 14th century, and were customary in the 15th century. Alberti noted that the husband had the space of knowledge that is not physical, while the wife got the dressing room, a space of material masks beside her bedroom. The space in her possession was not private because the small children and the nanny slept inside it. The husband kept in his room certificates, contracts, family lineage, details of private relationships, etc., which were transferred to the eldest son, and were inaccessible to his wife. This room was the true center of the house, indicating the real limitation of the woman in her home. The woman held the system, without having access to its secrets.
The more secular character of the Renaissance, and the triumph of humanism, were evident in the villas and palaces built by the 15th century families of bankers and traders, such as the Medici, Pitti, Strozzi, and others. These palaces formed a new urban character. Unlike villas surrounded by hills and cypress trees that were built in a rural area, the palaces were essentially urban, and located on the façade of the street.
The Florentine Renaissance palace served as a model for other cities in Italy. Its plan was characterized by reduction of the elements of medieval palace into clear and pure design. This is a massive and monumental structure projecting power, and crowned by a cornice. Its walls are built with large stones, and sometimes, with heavy rustication. In some cases, the rustication appears on the façade, but is usually limited to the ground floor. The fortified appearance, heavy walls, and narrow windows reflect uncertainty in the life of the republic of Florentine. In such a typical palace, there was an inner courtyard with colonnade. The staircase was hidden and not seen as an element in design. On the first floor above the ground floor, called piano nobile (literally, a noble floor), was a series of apartments usually with painted ceiling. In the rooms were often small windows with heavy bars, facing the street. Sometimes bars design was a work of art by itself.
The palace was the hallmark of the person who lived inside it. When writers wrote about Cosimo de Medici, they did not forget to mention his palace. Philippo Strozzi began to be famous when he began the construction of his palace. In order to bring fame to the owner of a building the coat of arms of his family would appear on the building. Matteo Palmieri went even further, when he presented his statue in the façade of his house. Michelangelo said about a hundred years after palaces began to be built in Italy that nobles' houses, being visible more than any other property, brought a significant honor to the city.
In order to ensure the success of their building, the owners would consult with astrologers who would be asked to set a date for the beginning of construction. The bishop and humanist Marcilio Ficino (1433-1499), a central figure in the Italian Renaissance, was one of the astrologers who advised Philippo Strozzi to lay the foundations of his palace on August 6, 1489, and begin the construction itself, two weeks later. Filarete, as Ficino, emphasized the importance of determining the appropriate time to begin construction according to astrology. Alberti mentioned the use of astrology to determine the day of starting construction in the second book (Chapter 13) of his Ten Books on Architecture.
One of the early Renaissance style palaces that became a prototype of Tuscan Renaissance palaces, is the Medici Palace (Palazzo Medici) (1444-1459) which was built by the architect Michelozzi Michelozzo (1396-1472) in Florence.
Cosimo Medici who initiated the construction, was interested in a traditional structure that would not be ostentatious. Like the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Medici palace's overall shape is rectangular with an inner courtyard. The most striking feature of the palace's outer appearance is the rustication on the surface of the wall, which is becoming more refined from floor to floor. The stones on the ground floor are rough and not uniform. On the second floor, the wall surface is smoother, and on the third floor, the wall is further smooth. Rough stone on the ground floor is very typical of the oldest buildings in Florence, where typically, the entire building was built in rough stone.
The stories in Palazzo Medici are decreasing in height, an effect that creates the illusion of greater height than the actual height. Apartments, rooms, bedrooms and other rooms are scattered between the floors. Emphasis on horizontal line is obtained by stringcourses that separate floors and by the cornice, which crowns the palace. These are the elements derived from classical influence and which have no precedent in medieval buildings. The biforium (divided in two parts) windows, however, originated in medieval architecture. Round arches replaced the pointed Gothic arches. In the spandrels of these windows and in the corner of the palace is embedded the coat of arms of the Medici family with its seven balls.
On the ground floor of Palazzo Medici, there are three entrances with round arches. The main gate opens to a barrel vault leading to inner courtyard. The corners of the building were, originally, loggias, where later were built windows by Michelangelo in c.1517, when the palace was owned by Riccardi family. In 1715, the palace went through changes again, and the original length of ten bays was increased into the current seventeen.
The inner courtyard of the palace is shaped like a cloister of a monastery. It is surrounded by an arcade that looks like the arcade from the foundling hospital in Florence, which was designed by Brunelleschi. Here, as on the exterior of the palace, classic details can be seen. Above the arcade, there are arches, entablature with medallions that are copies of classic Roman reliefs in gems from the collection of the Medici family. The columns of the arcade have composite capitals, according to Roman tradition. Over the arches of the arcade there are reliefs and above them an entablature.
Medici Palace is an important building to the history of architecture, representing the first stage in the passage from the conception of a fortified castle to the perception of a house in the city. Michelozzo created a prototype of the palaces built in Florence and throughout Italy until the 16th century. Inspired by Medici Palace, the first Renaissance palaces are characterized by clarity, reason and the impression of massiveness and severity. The façades are divided by horizontal lines into three floors: ground floor, main floor, which is the piano nobile, and the attic. Monumental cornice crowns the building.
Ruccelai Palace (Palazzo Ruccelai)
According to Professor Spanaolesi, who examined the structure of the palace when it was restored in 1966-1968, the building was originally built in five vertical units and had symmetrical appearance. According to him, on the ground floor at the center there was the main gate leading to the structure.
The main entrance from Via della Vigna leads to the main staircase from which the other floors and the inner courtyard can be reached. At the base of the palace's exterior, Alberti designed the Roman opus reticulatum. Flanking the gate ran built benches, as was the custom in façades of Florentine buildings.
Strozzi Palace was planned by Da Maiano, and its design is a peak of design of palaces in Florence. This is clearly a huge outstanding classic building. The most prominent elements are rustication that looks uniform across the walls, and a giant cornice that crowns the structure. Clear horizontal lines mark the three stories of the palace, and round arches crown the big openings of the building. These stone arches are designed so that their size increases toward the keystone.
On three sides, the palace stands in open space. Each of these three façades has a huge doorway.
Image - Palazzo Strozzi
Here can be seen an obvious flaw that appears in the design of many façades of such palaces. The uniformity in the height of the floors, which is marked by cornices running along the windows sills, and the monotonous repetition of the windows, reduce the interest in the design. In Strozzi Palace, the impression of this imperfection is reduced, to some extent, with the prominent giant cornice at the top, projecting into the street with a width of about 2 m, and creating a large shadow. Any other element in the building becomes of secondary importance. This ancient-style cornice, was added by Cronaca, who continued the construction work of Benedetto Da Maiano.
As for the internal structure, the organization of the rooms is clearer than that in the previous palaces. Here there is an innovation – a double floor and double staircase connecting the floors. The external symmetry continues inside the building.
The coat of arms of Strozzi family, which is shaped like a crescent moon, appears in the spandrels of the windows, the façade, and the bases of the corbels inside.
In the 16th century, Italian Renaissance art reached its peak. It was the time of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Raphael (1483-1520). Leonardo da Vinci was the greatest among the polymaths of the Renaissance. Besides his work in painting, he was a great sculptor, musician, poet, engineer, physicist, inventor, and philosopher. Michelangelo, like Leonardo da Vinci, was a Renaissance man with many talents. He was a sculptor, painter, architect, and poet.
During this period, Italy, which was divided into city-states fighting with each other, was seen by its neighbors as a tempting prey, and fell into the hands of foreign rulers. In 1494, the French invaded Italy, and the Medici were expelled from Florence. It was the beginning of a series of wars ending in a peace agreement in 1559. The conquerors were captivated by the charm of Italian art, adopted the culture of the Renaissance and spread it to other parts of Europe.
The Venetian Republic, even though it was threatened by the invasion of the Ottoman Empire, remained stable and was the most peaceful among the city-states of Italy.
In the early 16th century, during the decline of Florence and the Medici, Rome became the center of art in Italy. Popes were the major art patrons, including prominent Julius II (served 1503-1513), Leo X (served 1513-1521) and Clement VII (served 1523-1534).
Italian humanism gradually and slowly penetrated the University of Paris since the 15th century. Paris humanists, including Erasmus from Rotterdam, were interested in classical philosophy. However, the medieval tradition continued to be dominant at the University of Paris until c.1600, as the Gothic style was dominant and the Renaissance style was assimilated slowly in France.
Renaissance humanism and ideas began to lose strength in the second half of the 16th century. Despite the scientific progress that characterized the Renaissance period, and despite the geographical discoveries, Renaissance culture was closer to the Middle Ages in its approach than to modern culture. The religion, which shrank slightly to the side during the flowering of humanism, was back, and became the focus of interest of the period.
The Catholic Church, which adopted the bureaucratic structure of the Holy Roman Empire, was powerful but corrupt at its core. Since the 13th century, it was called to do reforms following the abuse of its power, but just the call for reforms in the 16th century shook the foundations of the Catholic Church and led to its fragmentation. The initiator of the reform movement was Martin Luther (1483-1546), who set in Wittenberg) in 1517 the list of ninety-five theses of the Catholic Church - activities which required modification and reform. Luther detested the church, which sold indulgences that promised their purchasers penitence for their sins. Among the reforms proposed were national control of the financial resources of the church rather than Roman control and allowing the ministry to marry. Due to the invention of printing, the Reformation ideas spread throughout Europe. Pope Louis X declared Luther a heretic, and since then the split in the church was irreversible.
In 1524 began the Peasant War in response to Luther's call for democratic reform and correction of the imbalances in the social system. Poverty and envying the wealth of the clergy caused the uprising of the peasants who attacked the church property. This social revolt struck Luther's Reformation. The humanistic approach favoring education to bring higher spirituality was opposed to the reformist approach, which was occupied with man's constant need for redemption from original sin.
In France, the views of the religious leader Calvin, whose followers were called Huguenots, were accepted by many French people, especially city dwellers. During the reign of Henri III (reigned 1574-1589), son of Henry II (reigned 1547-1559), who ruled in France after his two brothers before him - Francois II and Charles IX, there were in France three religious factions. There were the Catholic extremists headed by Prince Henry of Guise, Huguenots, led by Henri of Navarre, and the Catholics who thought like their leader, Henry III, that all the Huguenots should be killed to preserve the unity of France. These religious wars were known as the War of the three Henrys.
England under Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) began a new atmosphere. The royalty's economic situation improved. Following the Pope's opposition to his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn, he severed all ties with Rome, nationalized all church property, and became head of the Church in England. The admired king divorced from two of the six wives and beheaded two others. Like his predecessors, Henry VIII made sure to give the impression that his rule did not constitute a threat to the nation. He pretended that he respected the rule of Parliament. During his reign, culture was flourishing in England and continued to flourish during the rule of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth (ruled 1558-1603), the last in Tudor dynasty. The most prominent figures in the English Renaissance were the painter Holbein and Shakespeare the playwright.
Charles V, was an emperor of the Habsburg dynasty, which began to strengthen its position in the 13th century. Then, Prince Rudolf was elected emperor and expanded the private estates, while taking over areas of Austria and other areas received through marriages. Habsburg dynasty lasted (with a short break) until 1806 when dismantled by Napoleon.
Charles had under his rule areas including Luxemburg, the Low Countries, large spaces in France, areas in Italy, and the growing American empire. In 1556, he transferred the eastern territories of the empire to his brother Ferdinand. The division between East and West created two Habsburg family branches: Spannish Habsburgians descendants of Charles V, and Austrian Habsburgians, descendants of Ferdinand.
When Philip II (1527-1598) came to power in Spain In 1556, he was the most powerful ruler in Europe at the time, and Spain was the world's largest empire. The areas of his rule included part of Italy, part of France, the Low Countries and a great empire in America. In order to unite the kingdom under the Catholic Christian religion, he combined the use of the sword with the Inquisition.
National awareness of the European countries in the 16th century aroused imperialist ambitions. The Portuguese established colonies in Brazil and India. The Spanish took over the Chile, Argentina and Peru. England, France, and the Netherlands also began to establish overseas colonies. In the second half of the 16th century, the French established colonies in Canada. At that time, the Dutch and English competed with the Portuguese on the territory of India.
High Renaissance architecture was reflected in buildings, which still kept rules of harmonious proportions and symmetry, but stressed the building's sculptural character rather than the two - dimensional decorative look.
When the Renaissance reached its peak of perfection, artists and patrons were attracted to innovations and surprises. During the twenties of the 16th century a new style developed - the Mannerist style, which lasted from 1520 to 1600 or so, and made the connection between the Renaissance style and Baroque style which appeared following it in the 17th century.
The mannerist style, which first developed in Italy, was a response to the balanced proportions and characteristics of the Renaissance. It reflected the tension that prevailed in Europe in the 16th century, breaking the balance and harmony of the High Renaissance. Manneristic artworks were designed to charm, surprise, excite, undermine confidence, and sometimes to frighten. Means by which these effects were obtained were using exaggerated inharmonious forms, distorted look, and tension. An expression of mannerism can be found in the paintings of Pontormo, Bronzino, Rosso Fiorentino, Parmigianino and others, who created elegant figures in uncomfortable positions.
Like mannerist painters, mannerist architects cut themselves off from the rules that were acceptable during the Renaissance. While the architecture of the 15th century dealt with the design of lines and surfaces, the 16th century architecture used volumes and masses, and designed the building clearly, with departments and floors. While the High Renaissance architects believed that harmonious proportions and symmetry create beautiful forms and convey important messages of power, authority, ethics, and compliance, mannerist architects expressed a tension between order and chaos, and the lack of practical usability. Their goal was to emphasize the fact that architecture is an artwork deriving from the spirit of the artist. However, they had never completely abandoned the principles of Vitruvius.
Mannerist architecture was still largely based on harmonious proportions and symmetry, but instead of highlighting these elements, they specifically highlighted elements to which Renaissance style did not pay attention or emphasize. While in Renaissance-style building all the elements fit harmoniously and there is no element or detail that stands out more than the others do, mannerist architecture highlights some elements and thus violates the harmony which was typical of the Renaissance. Among such elements are emphasized staircase in the façade of the building, windows, and doorways decorated with rusticated prominent arches, and pilasters adjacent to walls and pillars.
Unique mannerist architecture, we find in Bonarzo near Rome. Dragon-shaped structures reflect the mannerist spirit, which tends to the bizarre, and unusual. However, it seems that they also literally express the ideas of Renaissance texts. The door is the mouth, and eyes are the windows. According to writings on Renaissance architecture, the house is anthropomorphic. In Bonarzo it is expressed in a very clear way. This is the anthropomorphic approach to interpretation of the writings, but it is presented in the form of a dragon rather than human being. The atmosphere is inharmonious, contrary to buildings in the spirit of Renaissance.
The classical influence on architectural projects throughout Europe in the 16th century can be attributed largely to the writings that were published during this period. Essay by Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554) appeared in six parts, during the years 1537-1551. In 1554, Palladio published his book on ancient architecture and a description of the churches of Rome. In 1556, the books of Vitruvius on architecture illustrated by Palladio with translations and commentaries were published in Venice.
In 1562, Vignola published his book "Rules of the Five Orders" (Regole Delle Cinque Ordini), which won great popularity, and in 1570 Palladio's book "Four Books on Architecture" was published.
An architect whose work had connected the 15th century architecture, and the architecture of the 16th century, was Donato d'Angelo (1444 - 1514), better known by the nickname that stuck to him at one point in his life - "Bramante" (a nickname meaning "he who desires"). Bramnta arrived in Rome in 1499 and remained there until the end of his life.
Following the request of Pope Julius II (served 1503-1513), Bramante planned a luxurious Vatican, with a church and palace, which was to be built instead of the church of San Pietro that was built in early Christianity. Julius II's intention was that the church of San Pietro would compete with pagan buildings in size and magnificence, and would be the largest church in the world expressing the strength of the papacy. Likewise, he wanted his tomb to take a central place in the church.
Bramante, in his plan for the Church of St. Peter, introduced a new concept of the relationship between mass and space. Space, in his design, is not only a lack of mass, but also a dynamic force. He suggested building a Greek cross-shaped centralistic church with four small crosses in the arms of the Greek cross. Over the square of the intersection was supposed to be a huge central dome, a dome resembling that of Pantheon, with four smaller domes, and four small towers at the corners. All this structure was planned to be placed isolated in a symmetrical large square. The cornerstone was laid in 1506, but a little was built, before the death of the pope, which put an end to the construction.
In 1480, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1489) handed down the abbey church of Saint Pietro in Montorio to the Spanish Franciscans. The earlier building in the site which was built in the ninth century, was demolished and replaced by the Tempieto, whose construction was ordered by the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon (1452-1516) and Isabella of Castile (1451-1504).
Despite its modest size, the Tempieto represents the high Renaissance architecture with an emphasis on sculptural character, treating the mass and space, in a structure where traditional ideals are kept and combined with forms of a new era. The traditional character is reflected in the centralistic plan, perfect harmony of proportions, the simplicity of spaces and the Doric order. What is new here is the connection of only two simple geometric shapes - a cylinder (drum) and hemisphere (dome), a combination that was unprecedented in ancient times. The architectural elements were designed to create effects of light and shade.
An Architect, who brought a revolutionary spirit to architecture, as he brought a revolutionary spirit to every field he touched, was Michelangelo (1475-1564), who was a sculptor, painter, and architect. Although he often declared that he was not an architect, he invented a a new vocabulary of ornaments, new and dynamic principles of composition, and a totally new approach to designing space. After completing the Sixteen Chapel and abandoning the tomb of Pope Julius II, he returned to Florence and designed the Medici Chapel and Biblioteca Laurenziana
In 1523 Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Clement VII to build the Biblioteca Laurenziana in the cloister of the Church of San Lorenzo in Florence. This building, which was named after Lorenzo the Magnificent, was designed to store the collection of manuscripts and books of the Medici family. The construction, which began in 1524, was discontinued in 1526 and began again in 1530. When Michelangelo moved to Rome in 1534, construction stopped again. In 1557, Michelangelo sent his plan for the stairs of the library, but never got to see the building in its finished design.
In the vestibule of the library, Michelangelo created a dramatic effect containing the seeds of revolutionary approach in relation to antiquity. It intended to bridge between the ground floor of the library, and the library itself, which was tall and narrow, not enabling a simple and customary solution. The narrow tall look in itself creates a sense of inconvenience. Michelangelo found the answer to the problem is a staircase that fills half the space of the vestibule, and conveys a sense of free sculpture, that is reinforced due to the proportions. The staircase has been compared to bursting lava. Stepping upstairs conveys a sense of descending as if going against the stream. Highlighting the steps in the structure's design and its theatrical character are precursors of baroque architecture.
Michelangelo designed the inner wall of the vestibule, as if it were the outer wall, giving it the appearance of a classical division of the wall with pillars, windows, and pilasters. The revolutionary aspect is changing the conventional role of these elements. The wall becomes accentuated, and pairs of columns not supporting anything are placed in niches.
The breaking of classical norms by Michelangelo is also reflected in the breaking of columns at the corners and the design of consoles (supporting surface) under columns. The consoles are architectural parts, which are not supposed to support columns. Likewise, Michelangelo, arbitrarily breaks the gables and the bars of cornices (horizontal molding) in the vestibule.
Vasari was enthusiastic about the new forms introduced by Michelangelo and described them as "magnificent" ("maravigliose").
Image -Biblioteca Laurenziana Planning St. Peter's in Rome
In 1546, Pope Paul III entrusted the plan for the Church of St. Peter, to Michelangelo after the work on the church was abandoned following the death of Bramante. Michelangelo, who was then 71, chose Bramante's dome plan, but emphasized its internal structure. The dome is supported by a drum, around which there are sixteen pairs of columns. It seems to grow out of the base, rather than rest on it. The diameter of the dome is 42 m, and is almost identical to the diameter of the dome at the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Michelangelo preferred the shape of a hemisphere to the shape of a pointed dome. His work in San Pietro was completed by Giacomo Barozzi, better known as Vignola (1507-1573), the most faithful disciple of Michelangelo who brought to architecture a severity consistent with the taste of Contra - Reformation.
Due to the changing of Popes, building the church took a long time. and was completed by Giacomo della Porta (1533-1602) in collaboration with Domenico Fontana (1543-1607). The dome received a pointed look, so it would look impressive from the square in front of the façade. There was also an attempt to reduce its weight. The inner shells of the dome become gradually thinner, as they make their way to the top. Here, like the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the inner shell is thicker than the outer one.
Image - St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Jacopo Tati Sansovino (1486-1570), who has already been mentioned in connection with the construction of the temporary façade of Florence Cathedral, began his career as a sculptor. He adopted the name of his teacher the artist Andrea Sansovino. After the sack of Rome in 1527 Sansovino moved to Venice,
San Marco Library in Venice
In 1537, Sansovino was invited to build the library of San Marco in Venice, in front of the Duke's palace. St. Mark's Library was part of a new urban Venice, which also included the Mint (Zecca) and logietta (decorated entrance hall) of the campanile.
Renaissance Venice was the most important center of publishing books. In this city in 1490 were printed more books than in any other city in Italy. Petrarch (1304-1374) was the first to conceive the idea of establishing a library in Venice. When he fled the plague, from Padua to Venice, he offered his library to the city government so that in return he would get a residence for himself. The books intended for the library were mostly manuscripts given by the Greek humanist Bessarion to the Republic of Venice.
The construction of the library began in a street corner near the bell tower. The building, which has the general shape of relatively long and narrow rectangle, is a two-story building with a prominent horizontal separation line between the floors. The ground floor, which is vaulted with barrel vault, has a Doric colonnade-shaped portico. On the floor above, there is a Ionic colonnade-shaped windows. The ratio between the columns and architectural elements that are supported by them is clearly expressed here. Between the columns in both floors, there are arches with capstones over which are alternating masks and heads of a lions. In the spandrels of the arches, there are sculptures in postures fitting the triangular shape in which they are framed. The frieze that runs above the second floor is rich in decorations borrowed from antiquity, including garlands and putti (angels displayed as naked little babies in the spirit of the descriptions of Cupid the god of love in antiquity). On the roof above it can be seen white balustrades above which stand nude sculptures made of stone from Istria, carved in mannerist spirit against the blue sky.
According to Palladio, the Library of San Marco is the most decorated building since ancient times. Jacob Burkhardt regarded it as the most magnificent work of modern European secular architecture.
In 1545, the vault over five bays of the upper floor collapsed, although they were reinforced by rods. Following this event, the architect was dismissed from office and sat in prison for a short time.
Palaces and Villas in Italy in the 16th Century
In the 16th century, architecture had significant achievements in residential construction, and especially the building of villas, which became a common building type. As in ancient times, in the 16th century too there was a distinction between the rural (villa rustica with barns, orchards and vineyards, and the villa designed for the enjoyment, rest and vacation of the owner (villa urbana), surrounded by gardens with fountains and sculptures. A pleasure factor distinguishes the villa from the house in the countryside whose main ingredient was agriculture.
Renaissance villas expressed aspirations to class and power, and reflected the social changes in the transition from the Middle Ages to Renaissance. Unsurprisingly, Renaissance culture, which placed man at the center, would pay attention to residential architecture designed to increase human welfare.
With architecture, garden design art during the Renaissance reached a high level of magnificence and elegance. Garden designers learned to integrate the house and garden. While the Romans imposed their architecture on nature, the Renaissance man connected to nature and his house integrated with the surrounding gardens.
One of the most impressive villas built in the 16th century was Villa Madama, the last architectural work of the painter and architect Raphael (1483-1520), who left detailed instructions for its construction. The villa, which is located on the slopes of Mount Mario (Monte Mario) north of the Vatican, was the first Renaissance villa to be built outside Rome. It was ordered by Cardinal Giulio Medici, who became Pope Clement VII. Construction began in 1517 by Raphael, and after his death, Giuliano da Sangallo the grandson of the architect Antonio da Sangallo (1485-1546) continued the construction work and introduced changes in the original plan of Raphael. Eventually, the construction of the villa has not been completed.
Image - Villa Madama
Palazzo del Te is considered the first non-fortified castle built in open space and a masterpiece of the architect. The palace, designed to serve Federico as a summer villa, combined features of a villa and castle. The duke's intention was to build a villa that would allow him to hide with his mistress, and on the other hand, would serve for hosting visiting dignitaries.
The villa is built around a huge courtyard, and overlooks a garden surrounded by a colonnade in the shape of half a circle, a plan inspired by ancient Roman villa and the Villa Madama designed by Raphael. Here, as in Villa Madama, there is a combination of a house and garden.
In the four different exterior façades of the villa can be seen classical elements used in sophisticated and strange way, as is typical in the mannerist style. Prominent design elements of these façades are flat pilasters and exaggerated rustication creating a monumental impression of power. The villa looks like a two - storey house although it has only one floor.
The inner courtyard, as the building exteriors, has four façades with entrances to the palace where heavy rustication can be seen. Above the Doric columns, Giulio Romano designed grotesques between the triglyphs. The quadratic form of the main part of the palace consists of many halls decorated in different styles. Among these, there were the sun hall, the hall of Amore and Psyche and the Giants' hall. The frescos in the halls of the palace, which were all painted by Giulio Romano, are essentially of erotic nature.
The architecture of Giulio Romano, as his paintings, are full of surprising complicated effects designed to shock the viewer in creating tension that characterize mannerist art. The customary classical values of order, stability, and symmetry are broken.
Palazzo del Té was the prototype of one-story villa. Its design, which includes irregular rustication, Tuscan columns, massive keystone in the arches, and giant order pilasters became a source of imitation.
Around Venice were built twenty villas planned by Palladio. Most rural houses reflected the fact that from the Renaissance on, civil architecture was artistic, as was religious architecture. Unlike the rural villas adjacent to Florence and Rome, Palladio's villas were surrounded by fields and vineyards that produced crops. The layout of each such villa included homes for employees, barns, wineries, grain warehouses and stables. These villas look very modest compared with the terraced villas with gardens in Rome. Their simplicity has a special charm that can be noticed today. They are impressive, though not spectacular.
Villa Rotunda, the most famous villa designed by Palladio, and which had most numerous imitations, stands on a round hilltop. It is distinct from the other villas designed by Palladio, in the absence of service structures from the architect's plan. It also differs from other buildings built at the time in its centralistic plan and crowned dome.
As a villa commissioned by a clergyman, it was designed with elements that had a sacred meaning. The plan of frescos painted in the dome in the 16th century are associated with virtues of religious life. The western room of the villa was called "Room of Religion."
The ground plan of the villa consists of simple geometric shapes that Palladio saw as important ancient forms - square, circle, and rectangle. The villa's rooms are arranged symmetrically around a central round dome. Identical portico and gable appear in each of its four façades. Palladio justified this plan by saying that the beautiful landscape was seen from all four sides of the villa. The façades facing four directions deviate by 45 degrees from the four winds, so that sunlight penetrates the rooms. The villa itself is symmetrical, but the topography where it is located is asymmetrical.
Harmonious proportions defined the ratio between the porticos of Villa Rotunda, and the rest of the building. Straight axes and geometric-shaped white walls of the villa, present a sophisticated contrast to the organic world around it.
The ground plan of the villa rotunda is close in its shape to the drawing of Serlio, which is presented in his book "Geometry". This drawing displays a circle within a square, which is associated with human body's proportions. Palladio knew this drawing and drew inspiration from it. The proportions of the villa's rooms correspond exactly to the descriptions of Palladio in his "Four Books Architecture".
By adjusting the villa's exterior to exteriors of public buildings and churches, houses of the powerful and wealthy had a position similar to public buildings and churches. Designing gabled façades and porticos inspired by Palladio became a central feature in residential architecture throughout Europe and the colonies in America.
The Villa Rotunda was very popular in the 16th century in houses that adopted compact and symmetrical shape dominated by harmonious proportions. The English, including architects, who made the Grand Tour to follow antiquity, were especially excited about this style. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Palladio's villas also influenced architects in the United States of which most prominent was Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).
Goethe (1749-1832) who visited the Villa Rotunda said it fitted for human habitation, but was not homely.
In late 15th century, when the French kings were exposed to Italian Renaissance palaces, in times of wars and conquests, they sought to emulate the elegant residences of the Italians, and brought Italian architects to France. These presented classic elements to the French, but Gothic traditions were dominant, and for a long period, only small details were inspired by antiquity, while the general plan remained essentially Gothic in nature. The castle remained a rural medieval form. The decoration details in fortresses initially adopted as an addition to the Gothic buildings were columns, pilasters, pediments, and medallions.
Enthusiasm for Italian art began under King Charles VIII and continued during the periods of Louis XII, and Francis I (in French: François Ier). Italian influence began when Italian artists came to France, and was strengthened when the ancient writings were published, and French artists traveled to Italy.
French Renaissance first appeared in façades of palaces, which had a completely new appearance. In Gaillon palace, we find in 1509 pilasters that emphasize the vertical line. Other castles followed Gaillon palace, and continued the medieval tradition loyal to Gothic forms.
Established during the reign of King Francis I (1515-1547), Renaissance architecture was fashionable, and classic forms were no longer just decoration, but also penetrated the design of buildings' structure. However, the dominant influence of Gothic tradition did not allow full penetration of Italian Renaissance characteristics to French architecture. The Gothic tradition, which was rooted in French architecture, was reflected in its picturesque skyline - sloping roofs with gables and chimneys, and absence of symmetry and formality that characterized the Italian Renaissance.
Francis I, who strived for glory, knew that arts were a safe means to immortalize him. As a patron of art, he followed the popes Julius II and Leo X. We must remember that during the monarchy, personal prestige was a major factor. It was said about Francis I that aside from an obsession with women, he had an obsession for construction. During his reign began the building of large palaces that developed from rural forts, which served the monarchy, usually as hunting palace.
The French, following the Italians, published on essays architecture. In 1547, Jean Goujon wrote an introduction to the French translation of Vitruvius. Philibert de l'Orme published a treatise on architecture in 1567. He thought that the architect should be "a universal man" versed in many fields of knowledge, including philosophy.
The original model of the palace, which was built in wood, was designed by Domenico da Cortona. Some believe that the palace was planned by Pietro da Cortona. Other evidence suggests that it was planned by the French architects Jacques and Denis Suordeau, Pierre Nepveu, Jaques Coqueau and Pierre Trinqueau.
Chambord castle imposes concepts of symmetry and balance on the plan of a medieval French castle. The Palace, which was surrounded by a moat, was rectangular (160X120 m) with round towers (each 20 m in diameter) in the four corners. Within this rectangle, there is a square structure with four round towers too. Between the square and the rectangular structures, there is an inner courtyard.
The main façade of the palace building creates a synthesis between the rectangular and square structure, with four towers - two at both ends of the façade, which are part of the rectangular structure, and the inner two, which are part of the inner square structure.
The exterior walls of the palace are relatively thin and pretend to be fortified. The structural elements of protection were replaced by the balconies that allowed remote monitoring of hunting activities. Bold horizontal lines separate the three floors. The windows are placed exactly one above the other. The harmony created between the horizontal and vertical lines, originates In the Italian palace. Above the third floor, the lines are broken, and the roof appears taking over almost all of the design and creating an elegant and unusual skyline combining enormous towers, chimneys, spires, domes, fantastic lanterns, lilies (Fleurs De Lys - a symbol of the French court), minarets, and gables. From this roof, which was designed by the architect Pierre Nepveu, Catherine de Medici used to study the stars with her astrologer.
The internal square structure of the palace had no precedent. Each floor is divided into four parts by a Greek cross with four arms -rectangular vaulted halls, forming a cross, and meeting in the center in a double spiral staircase lit, like other staircases of the palace, by a lantern. The double staircase enabled ascending and descending the stairs without meeting each other. The cross shape of the halls creates four squares, each sub-divided into three rooms. This sort of plan which repeats in each floor, originated in Italy. Altogether, there were in the palace no less than 440 rooms used by the court.
The Largest palace of Francis I 's palaces, was the palace of Fontainebleau, which like Chambord, went through a metamorphosis. The old palace from the 12th and 13th centuries, served as a hunting palace. Since 1527, Francis I employed Gille Le Breton in planning the palace which would become a center of Italian art. Works of art that adorned the palace, were later used as the basis for the art collection displayed today in the Louvre. Much of Fontainebleau palace was destroyed. Only the north wing of the Cour du Cheval Blanc literally (yard of the white horse) has remained in its original shape. The western wing was destroyed by Napoleon, and the southern was rebuilt by Louis XV.
Mannerist architecture, as a purely decorative phenomenon, appeared in France, with the arrival of the Italian artist Rosso Fiorentino to Fontainebleau in 1530, after being commissioned by Francis I. Fontainebleau art freed itself from religious context. The gallery of Francis I designed by Rosso Fiorentino, began as a corridor, and turned into a tunnel of grotesque figures. Rosso, along with the painter Francesco Primaticcio, brought into the decoration of this famous gallery, a combination of stucco figures and the influence of Raphael's Villa Madama, and Palazzo del Te design by Giulio Romano. The drawings of Rosso and Primaticcio in the palace of Fontainebleau, were distributed throughout Europe, through woodcuts, and influenced the creation of a fashion of decorative surfaces internal and external.
Image - Palace of Fontainbleau
Another important palace where Francis I left his mark, is Blois Palace, which was built in several stages and combines styles from the 12th, 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. The palace was the residence of Francis I's wife, Claude de France, daughter of Louis the 12th. During the years 1515-1530 the most beautiful part of the palace was built - a magnificent octagonal staircase to the northwest of the courtyard in the wing which was built for Louis XII in c.1500. This staircase, replacing a tower, which was roughly in a similar form, was the last of a series of spiral staircases built in France in the 15th century.
In many ways, the staircase at Blois is traditional, but the old type is translated here into a new unique style combining Gothic and mannerist styles. For the first time a staircase receives a monumental character. The architect thought in three dimensions, and produced a series of levels in a large polygonal drum of a tower with three strips of balustrades, each presenting the royal symbols. Five of the eight sides of the octagon protrude into the yard. This stairwell's ceiling was built of continuous spiral barrel vault. The staircase is adorned with sculptures of dragons, monkeys, and hybrid animals, supported by vertical pillars, which are treated as a giant order.
The façade of Blois Palace was inspired by the loggias of Bramante in the Vatican Palace in Rome, which were under construction at the time. Francis I's choice of this design shows that he wanted to adopt the new fashion at its best.
Renaissance garden was an extension of the house. Gardens and villas paralleled the palaces and the town squares. In Italy, villa gardens were never too big. Most of them were terraces fitting the sloping structure of the ground. Besides, in the warm weather, gardens with shady trees were favored over open lawns. While the topography in Italy has allowed modest-sized gardens, gardens in France spread over a wide area, and dominated the landscape. French climate is more suitable to large areas of landscape. The attitude of the French to gardens originates in their big hunting woods.
Villa d'Este is located on a hilltop, and the gardens whose design took twenty years, were located on a slope with five terraces, so that it was hardly possible to see them from inside the villa. Attention is drawn to the distant view. The gardens of Villa d'Este are considered the top of the art of gardens design. Liggorio geometrically designed gardens as a layout of paths, ramps, and fountains. He created an avenue of a hundred fountains adorned with countless statues, inspired by the Metamorphosis of Ovid, and other ancient writings. The widespread use of water and fountains that Liggorio saw in the villa of Hadrian, probably influenced him to use water and water effects. In Villa d'Este fountains were used without precedent in the gardens of the Renaissance villas. The Italian garden became a prototype of a garden that evolved from the palace. The Italian terraced garden presents an excellent model of limited space garden.
Italian Renaissance ideas of designing gardens were received with enthusiasm in 16th century France and 17th century England. In the 18th century, these ideas spread throughout Europe and America.
Throughout Europe, in the 13th and 14th centuries, the city was the center of artisans and merchants community. Armies were small, and the defense focused on the city walls. The city looked like a combination of houses and shops around the area of common interest - the area of the cathedral, the town hall, and the market square. Cities grew slowly and in irregular manner. They were narrow and winding of the radiocentric type.
In most cities, the street system barely changed during the 15th and 16th centuries, and their plan remained as it was in the Middle Ages. Although demographic pressure resulted in immigration to cities, almost no new homes were built. The spatial organization of the city, which has evolved during the Middle Ages, continued to serve the social and spiritual needs of the population. The reasons were economic stagnation in most cities, and a preference for building new fortifications, which have not left sufficient funds to improve living conditions in the city. The few cities where economic expansion took place, urban landscape changed and was imitated by other cities, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Such changes began in the capital cities and administrative centers.
During the Renaissance, there was a clear division into districts - the government district, the business district, and industrial district. The number of public buildings increased, and the city was seen as a political entity rather than as a socio-economic one. The city generally was led by one family, or by one man, who dominated the cultural and political life in the city.
Among the changes made by rulers in their cities during the Renaissance, were expanding streets linking the city gates, building new squares and changing existing ones. New buildings were constructed, and façades of some existing houses were altered. Public buildings serving political economic and religious goals, such as churches, municipal buildings and palaces enriched the urban landscape.
Alberti, more than anyone else, developed in his writings and design, the idea that the qualities of a building, its form and location in the urban landscape, should be well integrated into the everyday life of the citizens. This approach, in building churches, palaces and public buildings, emphasized the overall environment as a background reference to the cultural, social, and political life. Alberti did not demand the destruction of many existing parts of the city as a prerequisite to establishing a new design. He wanted to create maximal visual and ideological impact, believing that buildings of the Renaissance, in their presence, would lead to a reassessment of the environment, and change the quality and meaning of urban life.
Awareness to the connection between the buildings and the urban landscape prevailed in part of the cities of Italy in the 13th century. In Siena, the central square where a uniform appearance of the windows has been preserved was chosen in 1288 as the site for building the town hall (Palazzo Pubblico) which was designed in 1297 and completed in 1344. It was necessary to emphasize especially the tower, which would rise above the height of the cathedral. In 1346 the chronicler Angolo di Tura wrote proudly that in December 30 the paving work in the square (campo) of Siena in stone was completed, and noted that it was considered the most beautiful square in Italy with the most beautiful fountain.
In Parma, the authorities were not allowed to use the square for punishments involving shedding blood, to preserve the beauty of the place and to avoid harming the goods, which were sold there. The square was perceived as honorable and worthy of special protection. Activities such as spinning, breastfeeding babies, and eating figs were prohibited.
In the 15th century, major cities competed with each other in expanding and straightening their narrow streets. To create a uniform look, construction of structures such as balconies and wooden structures, sticking out from the house was banned. Alberti contended that in cities controlled by tyrants it was convenient for the ruler to close the balconies and similar structures to reduce the resistance to the soldiers who would often walk the streets serving the despotic rulers. In earlier times, arcades were a dominant feature in several cities, but some were destroyed during the Renaissance, probably for the reasons raised by Alberti.
When King Ferrante from Naples, visited Pope Sixtus IV (1414-1484) in 1475, he motioned to him that he would never feel himself a true ruler of Rome, as long the narrow streets, balconies and porticos would survive. Pope Sixtus IV, indeed, destroyed the porticos, expanded the city's streets and squares, and paved them with bricks. The porticos in Naples survived the period of the rule of Ferrante, including those from antiquity, but those that survived were destroyed in 1532. Rural towns tended to keep their porticos.
Compared to the destruction of ancient elements, such as municipal porticos, the Italian cities of the Renaissance revived the classical tradition by placing statues in the squares. In piazza del Santo in Padua, near the church, is found since 1453 a pedestal 12 m in height, with the sculpture of Gattamelata of Donatello - the first equestrian statue since Roman Marcus Aurelius. The statue of Colleone sculptured by Verrocchio was placed in the Piazza San Marco in Venice, in late 15th century. Michelangelo's statue of David was placed in Piazza della Signoria in Florence, in 1503. Sometimes a monumental statue was erected in the center of a square, such as the sculpture of Cosimo de Medici in the Piazza della Signoria and the sculpture of Ferdinand I de Medici in Piazza Annunziata. The Medicis imposed their presence in bronze, in all the cities that they ruled. Thus, rulers used urban design to express their political power and refined culture.
In the City of Urbino, Italy, the Duke Montefeltro (1422-1482) built a fortified castle in Renaissance style within the urban settlement. His residential palace stands in the central square, which crowns the cliff on which it was built, creating an organic unity with the city.
In Turin, which was selected in 1559 as the new capital of the State of Savoy, with the construction of the Castle of the ruler, began the reorganization of the entire structure of the city. Duke Emmanuel Filiberto de Savoy, who ruled the new capital during the years 1559-1580, found in Turin a medium sized city with Roman walls, gates and streets which have been preserved during the Middle Ages, and wanted to turn the old castle into a fortified complex. A plan of five-pointed star (pentagram) shaped was already drawn in 1564. The aim was to protect the southern and western parts of the city, and in time of emergency, even the prince himself.
Fortunately, numerous engravings of city plans that have been published since the late 15th century and later have survived. Braun and Hogenburg whose work was dated to 1530 was the most active company in the field of publishing plans of cities.
During the Renaissance, the cities in which the Renaissance found its expression more than other cities, were Florence where Renaissance culture was born, Rome, the focus of attention of Christians, and a center of pilgrimage for thousands of believers who flocked to it every day, and Ferrara which applied the new principles of perspective.
Florence, where Renaissance architecture first appeared, paid special attention to the urban landscape. In 1319, expensive homes were destroyed, to expand the Piazza della Signoria, and in 1339, the church authorities initiated lowering the houses in the streets to make the Cathedral of Florence and the baptistery stand out in the urban landscape. When Brunelleschi designed the dome of Florence Cathedral, he concentrated on the dome itself regardless of its surroundings, but as a result of the construction, the whole town's appearance and its skyline has changed. The dome of the cathedral was the focus of the urban landscape, which can be seen from everywhere in the town.
The religious center in Florence, unlike other major cities in Italy and northern Europe was physically separated from the political and trade centers. While in other cities the political and economic centers were overlapping, and sometimes found near religious centers, in Florence, there was a clear separation between these three kinds of centers. The religious center was in Florence Cathedral, the main domestic market was Mercato Veccio located in the geographical center of the city, which was called the ancient forum, and the political center was Piazza della Signoria.
As already mentioned, the Piazza della Signoria was a political center, which served sometimes for passing political messages. After the flight of the Medici from Florence in 1494, the inhabitants of the palace took Donatello's bronze statue, which depicts Judith beheading Helofernes and presented it in the Piazza della Signoria, before the government's palace, the Palazzo Vecchio, and attached to it the inscription: "Posted by citizens of the city as a sign of the people's redemption."
Along the houses and streets of Florence there were stone benches on which townspeople used to sit, talk, and gossip about the people passing by. Benches are found everywhere in the city. They could be seen on the façades of palaces and simple homes. Sometimes they were placed near the entrances to stores.
In the outskirts of Florence in the late 15th century, among the houses there were estates and luxury houses reviving the ancient idea of a villa. It was customary that rich people had villas. While during medieval times gardens were attached to homes, in the 14th century Florence, the gardens were units separated from the houses, so that a green belt was created around the city, such as was much talked about in the twentieth century.
The complexity and centralization of power during the Renaissance, led to the growth of a capital city, which was both a cultural and religious center. The initiators of construction of the city of Rome and the improvement of its appearance were the Popes who came from noble families and their conduct was that of real princes in their country. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, city bishops tried to ensure their power by building fortified castles. In Rome, without Castello St. Angelo, which remained from the Roman period and served as a fortress for the pope, the papal ruling in the city was not guaranteed.
Pope Nicholas V (served 1447-1455) and subsequent popes gave expression to architectural renewal of imperial Rome. They broke the medieval order to create a prototype of a rich and prosperous city. For two centuries, Rome became the model for entire Europe. As the spiritual shepherds of the Catholic world, the popes had enormous financial resources pouring on them. The city became rich as a result of being a center of monastic orders, and pilgrimage.
The completion of the Pope's quarters, and the roads that were supposed to link them with the city on the Tiber, were the first project in city planning, conducted by the popes. The most important thoroughfare in Rome was the Tiber. Initially, the only passage over it was the bridge of St. Angelo, on which were presented heads of criminals that were condemned by the church. Nicholas V demolished the bridge of St. Angelo, after hundreds of people were pushed on it in a procession honoring the Jubilee Year 1450 and many of them fell into the river. For Jubilee celebration in 1475, Pope Sixtus IV built a new bridge, Ponte Sisto, to facilitate the passage to the Vatican and prevent a similar incident.
Piazza del Campidoglio
In 1447, Nicholas II began to redesign the Campidoglio
and turned it into a monumental civic square that would become the center of municipal government. During antiquity, Campidoglio Hill was a revered religious and political focal point. During the Middle Ages, its function as a sacred place and a symbol of Roman power and glory, was largely lost as a result of the presence of secular regime and the presence of guilds in the site.
The buildings surrounding the Campidoglio Square are the Palazzo del Senatore, Palazzo dei Conservatori, and the new palace built for aesthetic purposes only – Palazzo Nuovo "(literally new palace) whose name indicates a lack of practical purpose.
The Senate House was built in the 12th century on the ruins the Tabularium, and was expanded during the years 1299-1303 and 1348, according to a model of public palaces in northern Italy. Michelangelo changed the building, to suit the overall design of the square. The bottom floor is rusticated and the two top floors are united by huge pilasters of the Giant Order type. The upper floor's windows were reduced in size and became square shaped. The staircases in the façade led to the entrance in the piano nobile floor.
Two towers were added to the back of the Palazzo del Senatore, and a bell tower towered from its center. The old tower of the building was damaged by lightning 1577, and in 1583 was rebuilt in the place designated for it by Michelangelo, but not according to his design.
The wide staircase leading to the square and the organization of the levels are very sculptural. Flanking the Palazzo del Senatori are two – storey buildings. Heavy cornice with balustrades is crowning each of the buildings in the square. Above the balustrade, ancient statues are placed on the top of each of the colossal pilasters.
Placing the buildings in the square was made with great skill. The conventional way in which squares were shaped was ignored. The traditional rectangular square is replaced here by trapezoid-shaped square. The oval part of the square, with its powerful large star shaped pattern is one of the innovations full of imagination in the Renaissance. Using an elliptical shape is unusual during the Renaissance and preceding periods. Traditionally, flooring of city squares was based on grid pattern made of squares or rectangles. Royal courts sometimes used the pattern of lines radiating from the center. Piazza del Campidoglio with its elliptical model, incorporates the principle of the center with the principle of axis, stressing the center where the statue of Marcus Aurelius stands, and creates the illusion that the statue looked bigger than it actually does. The monumental appearance of the statue makes it part of the architectural composition.
Image - Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome
The Streets Plan in the City of Rome
Piazza del Popolo was part of the plan of the streets. This is the square of traffic vehicles, from which branch three transport arteries leading to different parts of the city. To Roman Via Flamina, Fontana added two roads, one on each side, to give a sense that the city plan was laid in front of those who entered it, and was accessible from all directions. This is a very nice entrance to the city. Placing identical churches on either side of the road is an example of the great importance that Renaissance attached to symmetry. Usually churches are not built in pairs. Piazza del Popolo is a prototype of the entrance to the city square. Squares of its kind we find in Berlin, Potsdam, and Leipzig.
Obelisks erected in the squares allowed the flexibility of the geometric space, and a dynamic perspective. The obelisk brought from Egypt by Caligula, was transferred in 1585 to the façade of the church of San Pietro in order to demonstrate the power of the papacy. During the tenure of Pope Sixtus V Fontana turned it into the focal point, and a prototype of means of planning throughout the city. Gardens with symbolically meaningful fountains incorporated into the urban fabric.
Popes, like other rulers, were not devoid of feelings of jealousy. To perpetuate themselves, they preferred to start a new project rather than complete the unfinished work of their predecessors. The achievement of Sixtus V suited this situation. He established the design framework for the entire city, and created design opportunities for later popes, to satisfy their ego.
Popes in the 16th century referred to Rome, as Napoleon III referred to Paris on the 19th century. Sixtus V re-paved hundred and twenty-five streets in order to bring the pilgrims to a complete urban experience. Within five years, the old city merged with the new city within one area. Pope Sixtus V was criticized for developing the new streets, while abandoning ancient monuments, among others, the Coliseum whose stones were reused.
In the axes plan of the city of Rome, the public areas were a combination of main streets with public squares as focal points. The model created is a city where public space and public buildings form the overall urban fabric, with lively places that convey a clear sense of orientation and clarity.
In many squares, the triumph of Christianity over paganism was expressed in giving new interpretation to ancient monuments. Fontana reconstructed the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, and the pope placed at their tops bronze statues of the Apostles Paul and Peter respectively. Not less than four obelisks were moved from their places in the city, to become monuments of Contra - Reformation, as an addition to a cross. They were placed in Piazza del Popolo, Piazza San Giovanni, the square in front of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Piazza San Pietro.
The obelisk (red granite monolith 5.25 m in height) placed in St. Peter's Square in 1586, was brought from Heliopolis by Caligula, to be positioned in the Circus of Nero. It was dedicated to the holy cross celebrations, and everyone understood the new meaning, which replaced the ancient Egyptian meaning. The Egyptian sun symbol has become a symbol of victory of Christianity over paganism, thus strengthening the city's Christian character.
Nicholas V, who made the Vatican the seat of the Pope, began building the church of San Pietro. The old church of San Pietro was built by Constantine in the fourth century and in the middle of the 15th century was in a state of severe decay. Alberti wrote that the mildest earthquake would bring down the building. It was decided, therefore, to re-build the church, but it took more than a hundred years until the construction was completed, and one more century until the Vatican became integrated in the city of Rome.
The dome of St. Peter's Church was built during the years 1587-1589 according to Michelangelo's design, and construction continued during the years 1606-1624 by Carlo Maderno (1556-1629). The dome is 42 m in diameter and 29 m in height. The pairs of columns, windows, and lantern design were inspired by the design of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence of Brunelleschi.
The square of Saint Peter's was designed during the Baroque period and it will be discussed later in the chapter describing the city during the Baroque period.
In the city of Ferrara in northern Italy, as in Milan and Bologna, an effort was made before 1440, to improve transportation, sanitation, and protection of the city. Dukes of Este family who ruled Ferrara attracted to their yard in the 15th and 16th centuries, great artists, poets, and scholars. One of the prominent dukes of the city was a strong ruler full of self-importance as he called himself "the first Hercules" (1471-1505). The city that he inherited did not excite him. This was a typical medieval city with narrow streets, surrounded by a wall. Luckily, he had a talented architect and urban planner, Biaggio Rossetti, who was considered one of the first modern city designers in the West. His brilliance is expressed in the construction of a feasible rational plan that concentrated on the main things, providing a framework for future construction.
Rossetti gave life to a humanistic conception of an ideal city designed according to principles of perspective. Construction work was carried out with astonishing speed from 1492 to 1502. Ferrara's size has doubled, and the streets were extended. New walls, gates, main streets, squares and key buildings were built according to the plan of Rossetti.
Three main streets were designed to expand Ferrara. One, made the connection between the old and new cities, and between the east and west. Two other streets vertical to each other, divided the city into four quarters.
In the Intersection of the main streets, Rossetti designed the Palazzo Diamanti. All the main streets of Ferrara connected vital points, with each other. They connected the gates to the palace, the gates to the castle, squares to other squares, and various important buildings with each other.
The completion of this project marked the birth of the modern city. Jacob Burckhardt, who visited the city in 1860, wrote that Ferrara with its buildings was the first city in Europe, ushering in a new taste. Here for the first time were grown large neighborhoods built according to a preplan. Capitalists from all over Italy, especially Florence, built palaces for themselves in this city.
In a period when the king ruled over a large area uniting many cities, there was no need for a city wall. Attention was directed to protect the ruler and the territories that he ruled. New fortifications were built for old towns, as new strategic points in the borders, or new fortified cities were built to serve this purpose.
In the 15th century, it was necessary to renew the fortifications repeatedly following the progress in the technology of offensive warfare. The use of artillery began with the invention of gunpowder in the 14th century. However, because of its great weight, for a long time artillery was used as defense measures during siege. Guns manufactured after technological improvements at the end of the 15th century, were more lethal, and with the passage of time, were also lighter and more mobile.
The invention of guns has changed the attitude toward the fortified medieval city. The ideal defense structures during the time when bows and arrows were used, became risky targets during the use of cannons. The artillery made the walls ineffective now that battles took place from a distance, rather than under the city walls.
Many architects tried to design star-shaped cities. They found that a polygon was the preferred shape for fortifications. Likewise, they found that streets converging to a central point were useful in focusing on a central building. Some designers like Filarete were involved in the implementation of star shaped military fortifications. This form was more suited to the walls than a rectangular plan with right angles because fire was directed against the enemy through the corners.
The need for drastic change in defense was felt in Italy, following the French invasion in the nineties of the 15th century. The main goal of the designers of fortifications was to strengthen the walls and gates at the corners, or build fortresses as strategic outposts. In the late 15th century, the preferred solution was fortresses in quadratic or triangular plan, with heavy towers, low and round corners. Different versions of this method were found in theoretical works of Leonardo da Vinci and Dürer (1471-1528). Such forts were built in Ostia during the years 1483-1486 by Giuliano da Sangallo and PontelliI Baccio, in Rome - Castel Saint Angelo (in the nineties of the 15th century) by Giuliano da Sangallo and Antonio da Sangallo the father, and elsewhere.
Engineers in the 16th century were much occupied with planning fortified cities. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Dürer left us artistic drawings of fortified cities. The later drawings of Michelangelo's fortifications, herald the baroque fortification design, and the plans of fortifications made by the engineer Vauban, which will be discussed later.
In building fortifications, unlike in other arts, it was impossible to learn from ancient times, or the experiences of previous generations. This is one of the only phenomena in the history of architecture, in which technological progress has changed the basic concepts of design, as the changes in Roman construction following the invention of concrete, and the changes in construction in the 19th century following the invention of steel.
New fortifications protected the cities in strategically sensitive areas, as they encompassed large tracts of land. Completely new residential areas were located beyond the existing urban area, to provide homes for nobles and the upper class. The walls, which marked the symbolic boundaries of the city, did not prevent the development of suburbs beyond them, or isolated buildings, such as inns and monasteries that served the city's population.
During the Renaissance special attention was given to creating a urban unit - "The Ideal City." Architects and engineers were tempted to create a new city design plans expressed by symmetry and order. The dream of an ideal city, received a geometric shape. Straight streets led to the monumental squares, and the seat of the ruler. Palaces and public buildings dominated open areas, and became perspectives' vanishing points. These designs are certainly impressive visually, but they made the dimensions of the city grandiose.
We saw that the idea of the ideal city has occupied the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Renaissance ideal city plans were based mainly on classical models, and especially on Vitruvius.
Renaissance utopias were usually associated with design of ideal cities designed to glorify the dictator. Italian humanists were given the political realities of city - state, and when planning an ideal city, retained its hierarchical nature characterized by division into classes.
Renaissance urban ideas were a reaction to medieval city models. The desire for order and control was reflected in the new architecture. The architectural changes fitted the circumstances of life in Italy, more than anywhere else. The Italians were closer to the ancient culture than to medieval ideas and forms. Competition between patrons, and artistic talents in Italy, promoted urban planning.
During the Renaissance, design of an ideal city was associated with perfection of sociopolitical organization. This is reflected in the geometric shape of the ideal city, which was perceived as an architectural entirety in one space surrounded by a wall whose perfect shape was round or polygonal.
Renaissance theoretical plans that described an ideal city, made a significant contribution to the history of urbanism. Ideal city center was usually an open space surrounded by administration buildings, the Prince's Palace, courts, the central church, jail, treasury and an army camp. The whole concept is visual, or planned, as imagined as bird's eye view, or view from the ground, creating a complete perspective to the main buildings that are located at the vanishing point. Individual structures were designed according to the rules of the classical orders.
Filarete planned for the City of Sfortzinda, high walls in height four times their thickness. For the center of the city, he planned a tower overlooking the district. The tyrannical ruler had to be protected from enemies outside of it, and keep an eye on the civilians inside. The city of a prince, according to Filarete, will be a palace city, and as such, would have a hedonistic character. It has to please the people. Its ground plan would be star shaped with eight corners to mark star systems. 16 ribs, 16 cross streets, canals, and squares make up the layout of the city. The main streets that have a radial shape, lead to the main square from each of the eight gates of the city walls, and from each of the eight round towers.
All the streets of Sfortzinda descend in a slope from a square, so that accumulation of rainwater in the city is avoided. The main streets are running at higher level, a braccia (about 60 cm) or two (about 1.2 m) above the ground. On either side of the street, there are arcades or porticos. The main streets are 40 braccia (about 23 m) in width, and the other streets are 20 braccia (11.5 m) in width.
Many associated the city of Filarete with astrological symbolism, more than with reasonable use of the ground. As a person who believed in astrology, Filarete set the precise date for founding the city - April 15 1460 at 10:21.
The plan of the City of Sfortzinda was the first organic plan of a city as a whole. It was also the earliest plan that integrates a layout of a city with a village. Gates were placed at the inner corners of the star in the city plan, while the towers, at its outer corners. Three squares were designed for the center of Sfortzinda - the main square, right in the center of the city, with east-west orientation, and two squares, to its north and south. The central square has the cathedral at the east end, the prince's palace, opposite, on the western edge of the square, and in the middle at the center of the square, a tower which is high enough, to overlook the village beyond the city walls. The seat of the Prince, the compound of the palace, is shaped like a staircase tower – the mountain of the world. The other two squares were designated for a market and merchants. In the north, there was the square of trade, and in the south - a large market. Public buildings – the City Hall Palace (podesta), bank, and mint, military police and baths, surround these plazas.
The details in the plan of the City of Sfortzinda are reminiscent of the work of Vitruvius. Colonnades adorn the main squares. In the crossroads created at the intersections of the radial streets with the concentric ones, are located, alternately, markets and community churches. The approach of Filarete to the city is anti - medieval, in emphasizing the importance of the large squares.
According to Filarete, buildings should be constructed according to logic. Various buildings respond to the needs of residents, the government, justice and education, training artisans, protection, healing and exercise. Each of these requirements is translated in Sfortzinda into stone construction.
Filarete presents separate schools for boys and girls, and the house of good and bad virtues, which is designed to bring the citizen's morality to perfection. This structure would contain reading rooms. The lower part was intended for brothels, and the upper floors were designed for an academia and studies with astrology studies in the uppermost rooms as they were considered the most important. By designing the house of good and bad values, and by referring to the city's morality, the city of Filarete prefigures the city of Shaw, which was planned by Ledoux in the 18th century, and will be discussed later.
Especially significant is Filarete's interest in landscape. Out of town, labyrinth was to surround the fort, as the labyrinth of Daedalus in the palace of Minos in Knossos. Here Filarete associates archeology with function. He insinuates the military superiority of Sfortzinda, an aspect that brought its enormous popularity in the second half of the 16th century.
The manuscripts of Filarete in their Italian origin, and the Latin translation, were distributed throughout Europe, and their influence was felt during the high Renaissance and the mannerist period.
Alberti, like Filarete, dealt with the ideal city. His Ten Books of Architecture served as an echo to Vitruvius in defining an ideal city in terms of topography, climate, and security. Unlike Vitruvius, he emphasized the aesthetic qualities. Many of his books discussed ornaments and style, including an analysis of the five orders. In Book IV, Chapter 3, he discusses city planning. Alberti did not try to create an entire layout of an ideal city. His designs include plans for ideal cities located on hills, and for ideal cities on planar ground. According to him, a winding street seems longer than it is in fact, because of its presence outside our sight. Likewise, in his opinion, the importance of monumental buildings increases when they can be seen only partially.
Alberti's city emphasizes the distinction between the classes, and expresses a clear political structure. In the city, there are three types of houses: houses for high-ranking people, middle-class homes, and houses for the common people. Houses of prominent citizens would be respectable, but refrain from ostentation. They would be based more on good design, rather than the size of the ornament. Otherwise, they would arouse the envy of neighbors, and the harmony of the design would be affected. Poorer homes would be built according the formula of the rich houses, but would be smaller and more modest, so that the difference between the wealthy and the poor class would not be too noticeable.
As Vitruvius before him, Alberti refers to architecture and design as one. Compared to Vitruvius, who summarized the characteristics of ancient construction, Alberti reminded his contemporaries the classical knowledge, and encouraged them to bring new ideas. In fact, he stood with one foot in the Middle Ages and with the other in the Renaissance. Winding streets, in which vision is blocked, seemed to him suitable for side streets. Winding line is, in his opinion, a natural line for pedestrians. Straight and wide lines, which create a sense of grandeur and glory, in his opinion fit into the main streets in powerful and noble cities, which would be symmetrical on both sides, with a unified design of buildings and porticos. The center of the city would be more beautiful, he believes, if its shape is curvy, like a river route.
Alberti made a distinction between new principalities and kingdoms, on the one hand, and free republics, on the other. The principalities, being filled with fear and suspicion, should stick to mountains in an attempt to protect themselves. In contrast, the free people could live in planar and comfortable cities.
Despite continuing the medieval tradition, Alberti is best remembered as a precursor of the modern functional approach, and thus connects the Middle Ages with our time. His aspiration to naturalism in painting, his emphasis on simplicity and moderation, along with the adoption of the tradition of Vitruvius, are typical of his time.
The Ideal City according to Francesco di Giorgio
Francesco di Giorgio (1439-1501/2) wrote (during the years 1470-1480) a book about the ideal city, which was dedicated to the Duke of Urbino. Di Giorgio discusses civil and military architecture. As an expert on fortifications, he introduced several plans for cities, where special attention was given to the fortified city.
Referring to the city, Di Giorgio does not focus on one city, or the model of a city, but presents proposals of city planning accompanied by a series of drawings. He refers to several kinds of cities - a city located on the beach, city of lakes, city built on hills, flat city, etc. The circular element of his cities was designed to serve as a central square with stores, and sometimes its size was enormous.
Perception of the City according to Sebastiano Serlio
In his book "On Architecture", which had a great influence in France, the Low Countries and England, and which served as a guide of Italian Renaissance style, Serlio introduced in writing and drawings, streets suitable as background for comic, tragic, and satirical scenes.
For comic scenes, he designated a set in which there were homes of "citizens, merchants, parasitic lawyers, and similar types." In such a scene, he recommended to include an inn and a temple. In this street will be open balconies. The small houses will be placed at the front, so that the houses behind them will be seen too. For the tragic scene noble buildings would be chosen because, according to Serlio, tragic romances and unexpected events, as they were written in ancient tragedy, always happen to nobles, dukes, princes, and even kings.
Serlio's inspiration for the design of the various scenes was probably, Vitruvius who wrote in his fifth book (Chapter VI 9) about the three types of scenes: tragic, comic, and satirical. In the tragic scene, according to him, there will be columns, pediments, statues and other objects appropriate to kings. Comic scenes will be presented in residential private homes, with terraces, and rows of windows as they are seen in simple homes. Satirical scenes would be decorated with trees, large caves, mountains, and other dirty elements designed in the style of landscape.
Kostof, in his book from 1995, presents a compelling comparison in images between Piazza San Marco and the two theatrical scenes of Serlio – the "tragic" and the "comic". The square in the tragic and comic scenes are corresponding to Piazza San Marco. In the comic scene appears a bell tower corresponding to the bell tower of San Marco, and in the tragic scene there are round arches like in St. Mark's Square. The lower houses in San Marco appear at the façade of the square, and the higher houses in the back, as in the tragic and comic scenes of Serlio.
Image - Setting for comic scene
In the plan of Leonardo da Vinci to the city, the aristocrats live upstairs, exposed to sunlight, without the noise and stench from the sewage, while the common people live in the lower level.
Leonardo also introduced a new concept of a city planning of a city surrounding a river. The upper stream of the river is split into seven channels, all of which correspond to the main stream, and meet again at the lower level of the city. The rivers were supposed to provide water, and remove the waste out. For the city itself, he offered three levels: lower one for water and sewage, middle one for cargo, stores, and a movement of ordinary people, and the upper one for most respected people of the city. The upper level is connected to the level below by stairs. Many levels are designed to free the city from congestion and alleviate transportation. Leonardo also suggested a subterranean floor that gets the light from the street above.
In addition, he planned hydraulic facilities that would alter the water levels so that the lower levels would be cleaned by moving currents.
Another far-reaching suggestion of Leonardo da Vinci was portable wooden houses for construction workers, so that they would live in a village during the harvests, and thus improve their health. This idea was ahead of the idea of a greenbelt around the city, which occupied the city planners of the 19th century.
As for the design of houses, Leonardo wrote that the house should be sited some distance from any other structure, in order to enable seeing its true shape. He explained that as a stone thrown into water creates many circles, and as a sound spreading itself in circles in space, so too any object placed in a bright space, scatters itself in circles, and fills the space around with infinite images of it.
In presenting his city, Leonardo was hundreds of years ahead of his time in proposing to build satellite cities, and planning separate levels for pedestrians and vehicles traffic, with special routes kept for busy roads which were designated for transporting goods.
Many of the ideas of Leonardo da Vinci were not implemented. Some of them could not be applied at the time. The importance of Leonardo's city planning ideas lies in the extension of the theoretical vocabulary of the 16th century, and marking the shift from the medieval city to the early modern city.
The Ideal City according to Palladio
In the 16th century Palladio introduced his ideas on city planning in his book "The Four Books on Architecture." He wrote that when planning a city, weather conditions should be considered in order to improve health. In cold areas, or temperate climate, wide streets should be built, because a city with wide streets would be healthy, comfortable, and more beautiful. It would be easy to see the beauty of its temples and palaces. However, in hot areas, narrow streets and tall buildings should be built to increase the shaded areas. Palladio brings the example of Rome (based on the writings of Tacitus) (56-120 CE) which became a hot and unhealthy place, after Nero extended the streets to beautify them.
According to Palladio, the main streets which were called "military", should be laid out in straight lines, so that they would lead straight from the city gates to the main square, and from the gates to the gates facing them. Depending on the size of the city, besides the main square would be built several smaller squares.
Outside Italy, the most important creators of the theory of an ideal city, was the known German artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) who published in 1527 a description of an ideal city with a perfect square shape. He created integration between houses of craftsmen and traders in a town ruled by a monarchy.
Dürer's city plan was designed for a balanced community. Blocks were allocated for all the crafts. The uniqueness of the city plan is the division to areas: industry, administration, and culture. Dürer placed the central square in the heart of the king's palace. The prince's quarters are located in the periphery, in the lower right corner of the plan (D), the church was situated in a quiet area in the lower left corner (2, A) and the Town Hall (X) was found in the left main square in front of the palace next to the market (12). Dürer expanded the quarters that Filarete allocated for the artisans and guilds of Sforzinda. The artisans who lived and worked at home were grouped together with the merchants, in various parts of the city's periphery, according to their professions. Goldsmiths, carpenters, copper's cobblers, and blacksmiths are found in the upper left corner (C), and food vendors at the food stores in the lower right (D). Warehouses of weapons, grain, and wood are located in the upper right corner of the city (B). Military bases were placed along the sides of the city.
Eighty years later, the plan of Dürer inspired the planning of the City of Freudenstadt in the Black Forest, which was designed for Protestant refugees during the wars of religion (some think that it was designed for workers from the mines around the city). The original plan was designed by the German architect Heinrich Schuckhardt) (1558 - 1634), architect of Frederick IV, who was trained in Italy. This plan has adopted the grid plan, with the market square at the center. Major public buildings - a church, town hall, school, and the king's palace, were located, each, in another corner of the square. The duke commissioned the plan and modified its design, so that in fact, the square in the center was much larger than that in the plan. The palace, which was big, had been placed in the square, and dominated the city.
The most important article discussing German city planning, was that of Daniel Speckle, which was printed in several editions between the end of the 16th century, and the mid-17th century. Evident influence of Italian literature can be seen in this article, which had a significant impact on urban planning. This influence can be seen in German cities such as Mannheim, Molheim and Karlsroah.
The Ideal City of Thomas Moore
In 1516, Thomas Moore (1478-1535), philosopher and advisor of Henry VIII, wrote in England the book "Utopia". The word "utopia" is Greek. "Ut" means "no" and "topos" meaning "place". The word "eutopia" in Greek means "good place". Moore may mean both meanings. .
In Moore's book, Utopia is a crescent shaped island, with identical cities, so he who knows one of them, knows them all. They are the same, as far as nature allows. The number of families in each city on the island would not exceed 6000. If the total number of civilians in the city would exceed the agreed number, the surplus residents would move to another city.
Each of the cities of Utopia has high and thick walls with towers, and is divided into four equal parts, each with a market in the center. The houses are built so that their front door faces the street and the back door overlooks a garden. The streets are about 7 m in width, arranged to be convenient, beautiful, good against the winds, and suitable for transporting heavy loads.
In writing Utopia, Moore drew inspiration from a meeting that he had with an American navigator, who described to him the Inca Empire. As was common among the tribes of the Incas, in the ideal city of Thomas Moore the inhabitants have uniform costume. The streets are identical so it is difficult to distinguish them. With the cities being identical, it is not interesting to travel around them. Everyone eats in the dining room, and playing trumpet announces lunch hour.
Utopia of Moore would have been perceived as comic today unless it would prefigure totalitarian societies. As Aristophanes ridiculed Plato's ideal city, so did Rabelais (1483-1553) create a sort of a city contrasting Thomas Moore's Utopia. His city Theleme is a city of happiness without clocks, method, walls, and it has only one law, which is freedom.
The number of new towns built during the Renaissance, was smaller than that of new cities built during the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of the new towns in the 15th and 16th centuries were built for military or ceremonial purposes. Building a new city was an opportunity to realize new architectural ideas. New cities were generally too ambitious, and continued to exist as long as the circumstances that led to their establishment existed. This was especially true for cities that were established for the purposes of personal aggrandizement. The lives of these cities did not last beyond the lives of their founders.
Pius II wanted the city of Pienza to be the bishop's seat, and his cardinals to be persuaded to build a new church and palaces for him and for them. The central square, the Bishop's Palace, the palace of the family and the communal palace were built at an accelerated pace, according to the request of the Pope who was interested that the work would be done within a very short time. Unfortunately, his death put an end to the project.
In the 16th century, the "City" of Pienza became a feudal estate of the Piccolomini family. The fact that in 1552 fortifications were not built for the city indicates that it was less important than other cities in Italy, which were fortified to protect them against Spanish attacks. Today the only visitors to the palaces of Pienza are tourists and chickens.
Image - The plan of Pienza
An evidence of vanished dreams of ideal city is also found in the City of Bruoage on the west coast of France. Originally, it was founded as Jacopolis by a local house owner. Louis the 13th changed it in the twenties of the 17th century, and transformed it into a military outpost with access to the sea, to prevent a threat from England. It was fortified with new fortifications. There were earth fortifications, military bases, ammunition warehouses, residential quarters, smithy, and drinking water storage.
As a city built for defense and fortification, the plan of Palmanova was star shaped with nine outer corners. The city's central square is hexagonal with an inspection tower in the center. Three gates and three roads form a Y shape whose arms meet in the main square where native Venetian officers and soldiers were located, and their loyalty could be counted on. Within the fortifications surrounding the town, there were military bases and foreign mercenaries. The area between the two areas was civilian with radial streets.
During the Renaissance, the circular form and the radial symmetry was typical of plans offered for cities. It served as a symbol of mathematical and orderly world - a stable and hierarchical microcosm.
In 1866, when the city of Palmanova was annexed to the new kingdom of Italy, it was abandoned and no longer served as a military outpost. Today, it is a quiet rural town. The streets are devoid of activity, and squares are not used. It looks like a colonial site waiting for the settlers to breathe life into it.
Maybe the fate of ideal cities is to be deserted, or to have life far from ideal. It is a small town. Its maximum length did not exceed 1,200 m, and yet, was greater than necessary. One of its drawbacks was the lack of control in the center. The feeling in the city today, according to the testimony of Harbison from 1991 is the same at any point in the city and only in the center visitors feel comfortable.
Renaissance streets were used sometimes, as parade routes. In the first half of the 15th century, a procession of St. George's Guild was held in Norwich, England, twice a year. St. George would be presented entering the city on a horseback dressed as a knight, moving along the streets and fighting the dragon. His main "battle" would be held near the cathedral at the end of the procession's route.
Celebrations were held in the city whenever the ruler returned from a trip to another country, or won a battle. It was a way to express the authority and power. All the city's population attended the ceremony of the ruler's entrance to the city. Residents could see their monarch, with their own eyes, and contact him directly.
Vasari told that in order to celebrate the arrival of Pope Leo X to Florence in 1514, triumphal arches were built of wood throughout the city. Sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino built for the occasion a wooden façade for Santa Maria del Fiore. Sculptures, architectural scenes, and orders were designed to remove the Gothic composition. Sansovino used the Corinthian order and gave the façade an appearance of a triumphal arch. On a large basis, he set double columns on each side of the gate with large niches between them and free statues of the Apostles inside them. Above these scenes, there were high reliefs with episodes from the New Testament. Over these was a prominent entablature.
In Prague, the painter Arcimboldo was responsible for organizing the celebrations of Rudolf II. In France, all the cities vied with each other on the "Entrance of Henry II".