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Venice Italy Architecture

Initially, when the city was founded as one of the centres of decaying Roman Empire, the buildings were created mainly for residential and administrative purposes, sometimes defensive, though the city did not need major fortification due to the natural conditions. The Romanesque style was characterized by thick walls, small windows and heavy domes. In VIII-IX century it was highly influenced by ornate Byzantine architecture, featuring distinctive Eastern décor (Palazzo dei Dogi). In the Renaissance period it hosted numerous artists and architects, and featured several fine styles, all characterized by the special flair of Venetian luxury and refinement.  The Hippodrome shows the revival of the Roman style,  Ca d’Oro – the lacy and ornate late Gothic style. Rich materials and decorations were imported from the West, and the whole style was inspired by flamboyant Lombard Gothic style, expressed in St. Michele in Isola and the clock tower in the Piazza San Marco, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, designed by Pietro Lombardo from the famous Lombardo artist dynasty.

Sixteenth century was marked both by economic prosperity and, paradoxically, slow exhaustion of creative power. Enormous public buildings were commissioned by the state, imperial residences for aristocratic families were constructed, reflecting the ideology of security, power, and wealth. The complex surrounding Piazza San Marco embodies this style, favouring overwhelming stateliness rather than intricate decorations. Zecca (state mint), Library of San Marco, Fabbriche Nuove di Rialto ( market buildings) belong to it. The palaces of patrician families, like Dolfin or Palazzo Grimani, similarly relied on sequences of columns, tall facades, rich ornamentation, and equilibrium between horizontals and verticals, extending this image into the private domain. The church architecture also reflects more rigorous style with tendencies to clear lines and light colours in Palladian style (San Giorgio Maggiore, Il Redentore).

Baroque style, developed in the late XVI – XVII centuries, featured pompous buildings with exuberant decoration, reflecting the imperial power (which, in its turn, began to decline). Procuratie Nuove (administrative buildings), Santa Maria della Salute,  Santa Maria degli Scalzi are the examples of the style, flourishing in secular and church buildings. San Nicolò da Tolentino, San Simeon Piccolo, and the Palazzo Grassi, theatre  La Fenice showcase rigorous and serene Classicism. Later the city fashioned the revival of Palladianism and Neo-Classicism, and, in XX century, experimental Modernist architecture.

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