• Venetian Architecture

    by  • April 16, 2013 • Student Essay


    The city of Venice is known for many things such as its location, artwork, but most importantly, architecture. Due to the city’s location on the marshy Venetian Lagoon, the architecture is not only designed intelligently but also has many creative features that makes it unique from any other architecture in Europe. However, the most famous type of architecture in Venice is known as Venetian Gothic architecture, which originated in the 14th century. The three different types of gothic architecture included Islamic influence, secular gothic, and religious gothic. Venetian Gothic architecture is a term given to the Venetian building style that combined the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Ottoman influences.  Certain architectural styles were necessary in Venice because homes and buildings had to be built above the many canals. Buildings wereset on closely spaced wooden piles made from the trunks of alder trees in order to make a sturdy base in the water.

    The first type of architecture the Venetians used was in 900-1300. that included Byzantine influence. The structures were tall and skinny with rounded arches at the top. The Byzantine influence was very classic and simple with shimmery textures on two-dimensional decorations. This type of architecture also included galleries above the aisles, a central dome, and impost blocks. The domes, walls, and floors are covered with detailed golden mosaics. A good example of this architecture is the Basilica San Marco.

    Basilica San Marco

    Basilica San Marco

    The next type of architecture came in 1300-1500 with Islamic influence and was the first type of gothic architecture. This design was very over the top and highly decorated. The main indication of gothic architecture is the sign of pointed arches. Venetian Gothic architecture is unique to Venice because it is designed to acquire lightness and grace of the building, whereas other cities in Europe favor heavy buildings. Architects never added any more weight then what was necessary to support a building because they believed every inch of the city was valuable. Secular gothic was another type of architecture that included inflected arches and was purely decorative rather than structural. An example of this is the Ca’D’Oro that was built in 1428. The last type of gothic architecture was religious gothic. This type followed Western gothic influences with pointed arches and minimal decoration. A building that exhibits this type of architecture is the Santa Maria Gloria dei Frari built in 1433.

    Santa Maria Gloria dei Frari

    Santa Maria Gloria dei Frari

    The Renaissance period between the 1500-1600 influenced another type of architecture to Venetian buildings. This type of architecture presented arched windows and a more classic design by geometry and columns. Unlike Gothic or Byzantine architectural building, Renaissance buildings were not always balanced. An example of this type of building is the Palazzo Grimani because of its columns and semi-circle arches on the outside.

    The most famous example of Venetian Gothic architecture is the Doge’s Palace. This building includes Gothic, Morrish, and Renaissance architectural styles. In the 14th century, it was destroyed by two fires and rebuilt in its present, recognizable Gothic form. The exterior of the building has many arches, which shows the influence of the Gothic style when it was rebuilt. It also is decorated with 14th century sculptures by Flippo Calendario and various other artists.

    Doge Palace

    Colors were also an important aspect to Venetian architecture. They mostly included rich colors as in dark reds, muted yellows, and bright blues. During the Renaissance however, the colors were gradually softened to a more natural colors. The plaster was mixed with marble dust and applied very thin with multiple layers to achieve a polished, smooth surface. The reason for this was in order to capture the illusion of depth and texture. Sometimes the plaster was left unpolished which gave a building the rough and stone-like look.

    Venice is a beautiful city with so much diversity thanks to the many typesof architecture styles throughout the centuries. Architecture is a major reason of why Venice is so unique and different compared to other European counties or even other cities in Italy. It is also a big tourist spot today because of these beautiful architectural styles. In order to keep Venice unique and classic, Venetians have maintained these looks in modern day. Venice architecture is unlike anything else and has so much history behind it that helps Venice maintained its beauty.


    Work Cited

    Cooper, Tracy E, and Eugene J. Johnson. “Reviews – Palladio’s Venice: Architecture and Society in a Renaissance Republic.” Renaissance Quarterly. 60.1 (2007): 177. Print

    Hahn, Katy. “Venetian Architecture and Interior Design.” Ezine. SparkNet, 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://ezinearticles.com/?Venetian-Architecture-and-Interior-Design&id=7234060>.

    Palladio. “Venetian Architecture.” Palladio and the Veneto. Royal Institute of British Architects, 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://www.architecture.com/LibraryDrawingsAndPhotographs/PalladioAndTheVeneto/VenetianArchitecture/VenetianArchitecture.aspx>.

    Rosenfield, Karissa. “A History of the Venice Architecture Biennale.” ArchDaily. ArchDaily, 2008. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://www.archdaily.com/267113/a-history-of-the-venice-architecture-biennale/>.

    “Venetian Gothic Architecture.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venetian_Gothic_architecture>.