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Architecture of the Renaissance Period - a photo essay

Updated on December 15, 2015
Inside of the dome of the Florence Cathedral designed by Brunelleschi
Inside of the dome of the Florence Cathedral designed by Brunelleschi | Source

Renaissance Architecture

In my travels throughout Europe I have found the architecture of the Renaissance Period to be the most beautiful and breathtaking of all I saw. Even greater than the Gothic cathedrals and their tall spires, I found the simpler lines of the Renaissance architecture to really define what is beauty to me. Many of the photos shown here are of buildings, cathedrals, palaces, and bapisteries I searched out in my quest to see for myself all the beautiful architecture I was shown on slides during the Western Cultural class I took in college. Yes, Dr. Reid would be proud of me for finding each of the buildings he had shown us as great examples of Renaissance Art. So, I have compiled them for you here so you can admire the beauty and hopefully be inspired in some way by them as I have been. Because some of my photos were more than 30 years old and fading, the photos depicted here are from wikipedia.

A little about Renaissance Architecture

The architecture of the Renaissance Period is the period in time from the early 15th century through the 17th century in different regions of Europe. Stylistically, Renaissance architecture followed Gothic architecture and was followed by the Baroque style. The Renaissance architecture can be described as the revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture.

Renaissance architecture was, of course, developed first in Florence, Italy with Filippo Brunelleschi, one of its finest architectural innovators. He used mathematical and geometrical calculations in his designs and was one of the first architects to do so. His innovations and the Renaissance style quickly spread to other Italian cities and then throughout Europe. The Renaissance style in architecture included the following:

  • emphasis on symmetry, proportions and geometry
  • regularity of parts to the whole as they are demonstrated in the architecture of classical Rome
  • orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters, and lintels
  • use of semi-circular arches, niches,, and aedicules, replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings

Mannerism became part of the later Renaissance style. Michaelangelo is credited with using the Mannerist style and with inventing giant order: a large pilaster that stretches from the bottom to the top of a facade. Mannerism is also described a style in which harmony gave way to freer and more imaginative rythms. Architects also experimented with using architectural forms to emphasize solid and spacial relation.

The Renaissance Architecture outside Italy

As the new architectural style spread out of Italy throughout Europe, most of the other European countries developed a proto-Renaissance style. Each country constructed its own architectural traditions to the new style, so that the Renaissance buildings across Europe are diversified by region. Outside Italy, Baroque architecture was more widespread and fully developed than in Italy and the Renaissance style.



Italy

Florence Cathedral designed by Brunelleschi with his dome.
Florence Cathedral designed by Brunelleschi with his dome. | Source
The Bapistery in front of the Florence Cathedral.  Designed and built by Giotto and brass doors designed and built by Ghilberti.
The Bapistery in front of the Florence Cathedral. Designed and built by Giotto and brass doors designed and built by Ghilberti. | Source
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. (Rome)
St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. (Rome) | Source
St Peter's Basicilica dome.  Vatican City (Rome)
St Peter's Basicilica dome. Vatican City (Rome) | Source
Courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy.  Notice the arches, columns, mouldings and decorateive details, all part of Renaissance architecture.
Courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy. Notice the arches, columns, mouldings and decorateive details, all part of Renaissance architecture. | Source
Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan, Italy.  Architect:  Donato Bramante (1444-1514)  Notice the brick structure and the N. Italian tradition of a squared dome.
Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan, Italy. Architect: Donato Bramante (1444-1514) Notice the brick structure and the N. Italian tradition of a squared dome. | Source
Villa Capra La Rotunda Architect:  Andrea Palladio (1508-80)  Notice the four identical facades each with a temple-like portico.  It is a centrally planned house with a domed central hall.
Villa Capra La Rotunda Architect: Andrea Palladio (1508-80) Notice the four identical facades each with a temple-like portico. It is a centrally planned house with a domed central hall. | Source
Inside the Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.  Notice the columns, arches and simple lines.
Inside the Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy. Notice the columns, arches and simple lines. | Source
Ponte de Sospiri, "Bridge of Sighs", Venice, Italy.
Ponte de Sospiri, "Bridge of Sighs", Venice, Italy. | Source

French Renaissance

Chateau de Chambord, France (1519-30)
Chateau de Chambord, France (1519-30) | Source

Northern Renaissance

Antwerp City Hall (1564), the Netherlands. "Antwerp Mannerism" style.  Notice the Dutch gables
Antwerp City Hall (1564), the Netherlands. "Antwerp Mannerism" style. Notice the Dutch gables | Source

Engish Renaissance

Harwick Hall, England. (1590-1597)  The English Renaissance began with the reign of Elizabeth I.
Harwick Hall, England. (1590-1597) The English Renaissance began with the reign of Elizabeth I. | Source

Nordic Renaissance

Fredriksborg Palace (1602-20)  Denmark Influenced by Flemish architecture and inspired by French castles.  Notice the high gables.
Fredriksborg Palace (1602-20) Denmark Influenced by Flemish architecture and inspired by French castles. Notice the high gables. | Source

German Renaissance

Cologne City Hall (1567) in Cologne, Germany Architect:  Wilhelm Vernukken
Cologne City Hall (1567) in Cologne, Germany Architect: Wilhelm Vernukken | Source

Spanish Renaissance

El Escorial, Spain. Mannerism style and adherence to the classical art of Rome
El Escorial, Spain. Mannerism style and adherence to the classical art of Rome | Source

Comments

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  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    Limo Les: Aren't these buildings magnificent? I love Italian Renaissance architecture the best. Then again, I'm half Italian so I'm a bit prejudiced. LOL How those domes stay up is genius in my book! So glad you enjoyed this hub! Thanks for visiting.

  • profile image

    Limo Les 

    5 years ago

    I've visited most of the building you've listed in Italy and they are truly amazing. How those Domes stay up still confuses me! Great Hub.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    inggo: I really love architecture and especially from the Renaissance period. You are young and someday you will see these places - you never know what life will bring! I'm so glad you enjoyed these photos! Thanks so much for your visit and your comments! Most appreciated!

  • inggo profile image

    inggo 

    5 years ago

    Nice hub you have. I really wish I can visit these great places!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    I thought you were talking figuratively, but then, as they say, memory is the first thing to go, and I couldn't remember your profile exactly. I happen to love your work because it is so different and unique.

  • BeyondMax profile image

    BeyondMax 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Nah, nobody in the right mind would let me near the construction site LOL I'm speaking figuratively, being so out of the proverbial box scares even me sometimes =)

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    BMax: Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. I'm so glad you have enjoyed this! It was fun to put together. I just love Renaissance architecture the best of all periods. And, I really have sought out certain buildings to see in Europe that I studied about in college. You are well known for breaking down symmetry? Did I miss something in your profile? Are you an architect?

  • BeyondMax profile image

    BeyondMax 

    6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

    Oh my God. I am just lost for words. It's a beauty. I am overwhelmed and that is actually an understatement. Great job, impressive! Even though I am well known for breaking down symmetry whenever and wherever possible I am still very much influenced by Renaissance for sure. =)

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Oh! You and me both. I think I must be nostalgic for Europe right now and I am really into the Renaissance period. Each hub I write on this topic leads me to another one - I don't know how long I can go on, but we'll see. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and it brought back good memories for you. We are fortunate! Thanks for your comments as they are greatly appreciated!

  • searchinsany profile image

    Alexander Gibb 

    6 years ago from UK

    Suzette

    Another beautiful Hub, I just consider myself 'blessed' to have visited some of these places.

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