What Are Different Styles Of Architecture In Venice?

The floating city of Venice is renowned for its Gothic art and architecture. Due to its location on the marshy Venetian Lagoon, the entire architecture of the city is designed intelligently, making it unique from any other styles of architecture in Europe.

While the city shines brightly with different types of architectural design, it is Venetian Gothic architecture, which dominates most of the city’s landscape. In fact, Venetian Gothic architecture is a term used to describe the Venetian building style that combined the Gothic lancet arch with Byzantine and Ottoman influences. This architectural style was particularly necessary for Venice because buildings and homes had to be built above the canals. And Venetian Gothic style of architecture allowed the structures to be set on closely spaced wooden piles in order to make a sturdy base in the water.

Originating in the 14th century, Gothic architecture has three different types including Byzantine and Islamic influence, secular Gothic, and religious Gothic.

  • Byzantine Arch Influence

    Dating back to the time period between the years 900-1300, Byzantine influence was the first type of architectural design used by the Venetians. Not only did it pave the way for tall and skinny structures with rounded arches at the top, but also brought a classic yet simplistic influence with shimmery textures! This type of architecture also included galleries above the aisles, a central dome and impost blocks. These features were all decorated in detailed golden mosaics. A good example of this architecture is the central dome of Basilica San Marco.

  • Islamic Influence

    The Islamic style of architecture came to Venice in 1300-1500 and was the first type of gothic architecture. While the design was highly outrageous and ornate, it was primarily used to bring lightness and grace to the structure, with the main indication of gothic architecture being in its pointed arches. The architects never added more weight than 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. You can witness the main influence of the Islamic architecture in the pointed arches and rib vaults that were used to cover large interior space in a building. Another example of this Islamic influence can be seen in the Ca’D’Ore Palace, built in 1428, on the Grand Canal.

  • Secular and Religious Gothic Architecture

    The last style of the Gothic arch was religious gothic, which followed Western gothic architecture and is indicated by minimal decoration and pointed arches. A good example of this architecture is the Santa Maria Gloria dei Frari located in the Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district. It was originally built in the mid-13th century and then rebuilt in Gothic style in the 15th. It contains many important pieces of Venetian Renaissance art by notable artists like Bellini and Titan.

  • Renaissance period of Architecture

    The Renaissance period between the years 1500-1600, made way for the most revolutionary type of Gothic architecture – presenting arched windows and some classic designs based on geometry and columns. Unlike their traditional counterparts, the Renaissance buildings were not always balanced! One fine example of this type of structures is the Palazzo Grimani with its columns and semi-circle arches on the outside. The most famous example of Venetian Gothic architecture though is Venice’s renown Doge’s Palace. A popular tourist attraction and impressive building, Doge’s Palace includes a mix of Gothic, Morrish and Renaissance architectural styles.

  • Other aspects of Venetian Gothic

    Colours were another important element to Venetian architecture. They mostly included dark reds, muted yellows, and bright blues. During the Renaissance, however, people preferred softer, more neutral colours. Plaster was mixed with marble dust and applied in very thin, multiple layers to create a smooth, polished surface. Sometimes it was left unpolished, to give the building a rough, stone-like look. The motive behind these techniques was to create the illusion of depth and texture. These aspects and features can still be appreciated today by the array of architectural marvels scattered around the city.

    As you walk around this beautiful city you can now appreciate the many types of architecture that has gone into some of Venice’s most recognisable buildings throughout the centuries. It’s this architecture that partly makes Venice so unique and different compared to other European cities. Although Modernism hasn’t also been well received in the city, when a disastrous flood hit in 1966, people put aside their differences and agreed to make changes to the city and its architecture in order to save it. Since then, and with the support of Unesco, Venice has completed more than 1,500 restoration projects in the last 40 years. Today, the city is open to a broader range of styles, striving to maintain a harmonious mix of old and new architecture.

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