The Architectural History of Venice

Study Day

This is one of my most popular study days. It takes us through 1000 years of Venetian architecture illustrated with hundreds of images.

Session 1 The Byzantine and Gothic Period

We start our visit to Venice in Torcello with the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta dating to the 7th and 11th centuries, as well as studying Santa Fosca also on Torcello and San Donato on Murano.

We then look at the centralised church of San Giacomo di Rialto, a forerunner of the Basilica of San Marco which we examine in detail, both inside and outside.

Domestic architecture also plays an important part in Venetian architecture and we look at the transformation of the Venetian palace from the Byzantine – Ca da Mosto and the Fondaco dei Turchi – to the Gothic represented above all by the Doge’s Palace which we examine in detail.

The preaching orders built great Gothic churches in Venice such as I Frari and San Zanipolo and we end the session looking at some of the great gothic palazzi on the Grand Canal as well as the scuole.

The Domes of St Marks

The Domes of St Marks

Session 2  The Venetian Renaissance

The Renaissance came late to Venice, and the Gothic style persisted well into the 15th century, however influenced by Roman remains in Croatia. Architects and stonemasons such as Antonio Gambello and Mauro Codussi introduced a pure classical style into Venetian architecture.

We examine Codussi’s masterpieces such as San Michele in Isola and the Sculoa Grande si San Marco before moving on to the great names of the Venetian Renaissance – Jacopo Sansovino who redesigned the Piazza San Marco ; Michele Sanmichele who was responsible for Venetian fortifications throughout the Empire and Andrea Palladio whose domestic and ecclesiastical architecture was truly revolutionary.

We look at Palladio’s villas such as the Villa Rotonda and the Malcontenta, as well as his churches in Venice in particular San Giorgio Maggiore and La Redentore.

Palladio San Giorgio Maggiore

Palladio San Giorgio Maggiore

Session 3 The Baroque and Rococo

Venice prospered in the 17th and 18th centuries despite the demise of its empire and many wonderful buildings were commissioned, most notably Santa Maria Della Salute by Baldassare Longhena.  We also look at the high baroque churches of Giuseppe Sardi, Alessandro Tremignon and Domenico Rossi.

One of the leading 18th century architects was Giorgio Massari who designed the Gesuati as well as the magnificent Ca Rezzonico on the Grand Canal. During this period the Venetians acquired a passion for grand ballrooms which were often added to much older palazzi and decorated with frescoes by Tiepolo and ornate stucco work by Abbondio Stazio.

Finally we look at the influence of Venetian architecture in 19th century Britain disseminated by John Ruskin’s ‘The Stones of Venice’.

Longhena Sta Maria della salute Evening

Longhena Sta Maria della salute Evening