Romanesque Architecture in Italy

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Information about Romanesque Architecture in Italy

Published on March 10, 2014

Author: shexianne



Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of medieval Europe characterized by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style, marked by pointed arches. Examples of Romanesque architecture can be found across the continent, making it the first pan-European architectural style since Imperial Roman Architecture. The Romanesque style in England is traditionally referred to as Norman architecture.

Romanesque Architecture in Italy Sheree Ann M. Labe

Influences I. Geographical Central Italy : lies between Florence, commanding the passage of the arno in the North; Pisa, the maritime power to the West; and Naples, the navel port of the South Rome, rich in ancient pagan monuments and Early Christian churches, here exercised a paramount influence on architecture. North Italy : Milan, the capital of Lombardy enjoyed great prosperity on account of its proximity to several Alpine passes and its situation in the fertile plains of Lombardy. Venice and Ravenna, which were connecting trade links between East and West, tell Geographically under the influence of Byzantine art. South Italy and Sicily : was position specially susceptible to influence from the East, and after passing under Greek and Roman rule, it formed part of Byzantine Empire under Justinian, Sicily facing Greece on one side, Italy on another and North Africa on the third, was exposed to influences from all three countries.

Influences II. Geological Central Italy : Tuscany possessed great mineral wealth and an abundance of stone. Various building materials were used in Rome, including bricks, volcanic tufa or perperino, travertine stone from Tivoli, and marble from Carrara. Much materials was obtained from the ruins of classic building. North Italy : The low-lying plains of Lombardy supplied clay for making bricks, which, used with marble from the hills, gave a special character to the architecture. South Italy and Sicily : the mountains of Sicily of South Italy supplied calcareous and shelly limestone as well as many kinds of marble.

Influences III. Climate  Brilliant sunshine (Central Italy) demanded small windows and thick walls, both in cities of plain and cities built on the hilltops; varies between extremes of heat and cold (North Italy). The mountains produce ice to winds in winter but protects the towns from Milan to Venice from the excessive heat of the plains; climate almost sub-tropical, buildings have flat roof and other oriental features(South Italy and Sicily).

Influences IV. Historical, Social and Religious Central Italy  Pisa sent merchant fleets to the Holy land for the Easter fair at Jerusalem. The Pisans captured and defeated the Moslems in wars and this contact with Moslems accounts for the characteristic Pisan use of striped marbles. During the period the Popes began to exercise influence in Italian politics.

Influences North Italy  In spite of the intervening Alps, the invaders who had occupied the valley of the Po Kept up commercial communications with those on the Rhine by means of the Alpine passes.  Commerce and art were the special care of the Venetians. Their close alliance with Byzantium (Constantinople) greatly increased their commerce, so that by the end of the 11th century it extended along Dalmatian, Croatian coasts to those of the black sea and Western Mediterranean. They raised glorious buildings, and brought precious freights from the East, including relics from the Holy Land. All the free cities such as Mila, Pavia, Verona, and Genoa, vied with one another in the beauty of their public buildings, and this spirit of rivalry encourage the most remarkable structural advances in all Italy.

Influences South Italy and Sicily  In 827 the Moslems landed Sicily and gradually overran the island. The latter part of the 10th century was their most properous period, but bloody religious struggles ended in the downfall of he Moslems dynasty  Under Moslem rule even church facades were ornamented with geometrical patterns, because the Moslem religion forebade the representation of the human figure.

Character a. Central Italy- the basilican type of church was closely adhered to during this period; Italians were slow to adopt a new system of construction and preferred to concentrate on beauty and delicacy of ornamental detail, while the architectural character was governed by classic traditions. The most pronounced features of facades were the ornamental arcades which rose one above the other, sometimes even into the gables. Façade of Pistoia Cathedral

Character This decorative use of arcaded galleries is one instance of· the employment of an architectural feature having a constructive origin. When a wooden roof was placed over a vault there was no need to continue the solid external walls above the springing of the vault, as wooden rafters exerted little thrust.

Character And this arcading came to be used, especially by the Pisans, as a decorative feature and sometimes even entirely covered the Western facade as shown in the Pisan Group. In a similar way the battlemented parapet, primarily designed for defense was used as a purely decoarative feature. The use of marble for facing walls distinguishes Romanesque architecture in Italy from that of the rest of Europe, churches had for the most part, simple open · timber roots ornamented with bright' colouring. Quite commonly naves were divided from aisles by antique columns. The choir was occasionally raised above a crypt reached by steps from the nave

Character In consequence of the brilliant climate, while arcades are universal, doors, and windows are small and unimportant, with 'jambs' in rectangular recesses or 'orders' filled in with small shafts, crowned with semi-circular arches in contrast with the classic architrave.

Character  Window tracery was at no time employed to any great extent in Italy, and even wheel windows are only rudimentary in pattern.  Timber roofs over naves are of the simple, open basilican type with rafter and tie beams often effectively decorated in colour. While aisles occasionally have groined vaults of small span, divided into compartments by transverse arches.  A vast number of columns from ancient Roman temples were utilized in the new churches, and this retarded the development of the novel types. The finely carved and slender twisted columns in the cloisters of St. Giovanni and St. Paolo, Rome are delicate variations of the Classic Type.

Character  Classical precedent in ornament was followed so as to suit the old fragments incorporated in the new buildings, and rough variations of the Roman acanthus scroll are frequent. In all parts of Italy Christian symbolism now entered into decorative carving and mosaics. The monogram of Christ, the emblems of evangelists and .saints, and the whole system of symbolism. represented by trees, birds, fishes and animals, are all worked into the decorative scheme.

Character  At Tuscania, the high altar in Sta. Maria Maggiore and the mosaic paving in St. Pietro are characteristic.

Character Diotisalvi, Deotisalvi or Deustesalvet was an architect from Pisa, Italy, active in the 12th century in Pisa. The Baptistery, Cathedral, and Leaning Tower, Pisa

Character Pisa catnedral, with Baptistery, campanile and campo santo, together form one of the most famous building groups of the world. It resembles other early basilican church in plan, with long rows of columns connected by arches, double aisles, and a nave which has the usual timber roof. The exterior has bands of red and white marble, and the ground storey is faced with wall arcading, while the entrance facade is thrown into relief by tiers of open arcades which rise one above another right into the gable end. The Campanile, is a circular tower 16m (52 ft.) in diameter rising in eight stories of encircling arcades. This world famous Leaning Tower of PI SA which is the most arresting feature of this marvelous group, has been increasing its inclination due to the subsidence in the foundations. The upper part of the tower now overhangs its base more than 4.2 m {13ft. 10 ins.). The Leaning Tower, Pisa The Baptistery - was designed bv Dioti Salvi on a circular plan with a central Nave, 18.3 m {60ft.) in diameter, separated by four piers and eight columns from the surrounding two-storeyed aisle which makes the building nearly 39.3 m (129ft.) in diameter. Externally it is surrounded on the lower storey by half columns, connected by semicircular arches, under one of which is the door with, above, an open arcade of small detached shafts. The. structure is crowned by an outer hemispherical roof through which penetrates a truncated cone capped by a small dome, covering the central space.

Character b. North Italy. It was in Lombardy that the most important developments took place. The principal innovation was the development of the ribbed vault which brought about the adoption of many new constructive features. The churches are basilican in type, but naves as well as side aisles are vaulted and have external wooden roofs. Aisles are often two storeys in height, while thick walls between the side chapels act as buttresses to resist the pressure of the vaults. The flat, severe entrance facades stretch across the whole church, thus masking externally the division of nave and aisles. There is often a central projecting porch, with columns standing on the backs of crouching beasts and a wheel window above to light nave. PORCH: ST. ZENO MAGGIORE:VERONA

Character The gable is characteristically outlined with raking arcades and there are also arcades round the apse under the eaves. The general character becomes less refined, owing to the increased use of stone and brick instead of marble, and ornament shows a departure from classic precedent, and portrays, with an element of the grotesque, the rough outdoor life of invaders from the North. PORCH: ST. ZENO MAGGIORE:VERONA

Character There were many baptisteries, usually octagonal or circular, which is connected to the cathedral by an atrium similar to the famous atrium at St. Ambrogio, Milan. Open arcades round the apses, with the arcaded octagonal lantern at the crossing, give great charm to the buildings externally . APSE: St. Fedele: Como

Character Projecting porches, which Were preferred to recessed doorways, are bold arched structures often two storeys, flanked by isolated columns on huge semi-grotesque beasts. ST. ZENO MAGGIORE, VERONA

Character Towers are straight shafts, often detached as at Verona without butresses or spires. The composition of facades usually. relies upon simple pilaster strip decoration running from the ground and ending in small arches under the eaves.

Character Sometimes there is a large circular window over the entrance, and usually this font extends the whole width over the entrance, and usually this font extends the whole width of nave and aisles and terminates in one widespreading gable filled in with open arcaded galleries which spring either from horizontal or from stepped bases as at Pavia. St. Michele:Pavia

Character The halt-columns on the side towards the nave carried up as vaulting shafts, and this was the beginning of a system which was destined in the Gothic period to transform the shape of piers. Roughly carved grotesques of men and beasts occur, along with vigorous hunting scenes and incidents of daily life. Crouching beasts support columns of projecting porches and of bishop's thrones. The Font similarly supported. and corbel tables are typical.

Character Example of North Italy St. Ambrogio. Milan -founded by the great St. Ambrose in the 4th century, raised on its present pW1 and partly rebuilt with vault and dome in the 12th century. The plan includes the only existing atrium among Lombard churches, a nathex flanked by towers, vaulted nave and aisles With an octagon over the Crossing, triforium gal1ery, raised choir over the crypt, and an apse. * narthex -a Iong arcaded entrance porch to a christian basilican.

Character Example of North Italy St. Ambrogio. Milan -founded by the great St. Ambrose in the 4th century, raised on its present pW1 and partly rebuilt with vault and dome in the 12th century. The plan includes the only existing atrium among Lombard churches, a nathex flanked by towers, vaulted nave and aisles With an octagon over the Crossing, triforium gal1ery, raised choir over the crypt, and an apse. * narthex -a Iong arcaded entrance porch to a christian basilican.

Character The pulpit which is built over a sixth-century Sarcophagus consists of an arcade with characteristic Lombard ornamentation of carved birds and animats. · pulpit-an elevated enclosed stand in a church in which the preacher stands ..


S. Zeno Maggiore (Verona)

Monreal Cathedral

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