Renaissance architecture, a style of architecture, reflecting the rebirth of Classical culture, originated in Florence in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe, replacing the medieval Gothic style.
The key features of Renaissance architecture are the use of classical orders, mathematically precise ratios of height and width, symmetry, proportion, and harmony. Columns, pediments, arches, and domes are imaginatively used in buildings of all types.
Let’s take a look at some of the marvels of renaissance architecture around the world:
1) St Peter’s Basilica
Designed by Alberti, Raphael, Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St Peter’s Basilica is currently perhaps the most renowned creation of Renaissance architecture. Its artistry, architectural grandeur, and the sheer multitude of beauty cemented the status of Rome as the home of Christianity. Its iconic dome, designed by Michelangelo, is one of the tallest in the world. St Peter's Basilica holds some of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance sculpture in today’s world, including Michelangelo’s Pieta (1500) and the baldacchino by Bernini over the main altar which is truly a sight to see.
2) The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is one of the most renowned chapels in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. The chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV Della Rovere. It is reasonably known for its prominent Renaissance frescoes by Michelangelo, namely on the extraordinary and magnificent ceiling. Though the chapel’s exterior is quite superficial, the heightened interior is full of incredible frescoes by some of the most renowned and talented artists and craftsmen of the time.
3) Duomo Santa Marie del Fiore
With a heavy influence from Gothic architecture, the mighty dome of the Duomo Santa Marie del Fiore was a forerunner of classic Renaissance architecture. The idea and plan for the fundamental structure of the building had been conceived back in 1293, before the Renaissance period, however, the methodology to complete the dome did not yet exist. It was not until Fillipo Brunelleschi that the Cathedral was finally given a dome, more than a century later. Brunelleschi came up with a spirited approach to vault the dome space without any scaffolding by using a double shell with a space in between. With over 4 million bricks, a diameter of 45.52m, and a height of 90m, it was known to be the largest dome in the world until 1881.
4) Palazzo Medici Riccardi
The Palazzo Medici Riccardi is an influential example of Renaissance architecture in Florence, Italy, designed for the famous Medici family. It is defined as the Renaissance house “where it all began” as it allowed for artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Benozzo Gozzoli, and Botticelli to work.
Palazzo Medici Riccardi was designed by Michelozzo di Bartolomeo and was finalized in 1484. The design for the palace is a prominent example of a tripartite scheme, or in three distinct vertical elevations. This façade treatment was very prevalent in the Renaissance era because it symbolized the focus on the human scale’s influence on architecture.
5) Château De Chambord
The Château de Chambord is a classic instance of French Renaissance architecture, though it has many features of French medieval castles. The château was originally built as a hunting lodge for King Francis I who reigned from 1515 to 1547. Though the plan for the project was probably designed by Domenico da Cortona, potentially with major influences from Leonardo da Vinci, the final design was significantly modified during construction.
One clear architectural element inspired by Da Vinci is the iconic central staircase, the double helix, or DNA staircase, which is a well-known design idea that has importance outside the Château de Chambord.
Though this project is well known for its extravagance, the structure has not always been easy to maintain. Several original pieces of furniture and decoration were sold during and after the French Revolution.Written by Sara Ayoob