Villa Rotonda by Andrea Palladio, photo and description

Palladian masterpiece. Villa La Rotonda

Villa La Rotonda is one of the most famous buildings in architectural history. An embodiment of noble simplicity, classical clarity and harmony, the Villa Rotonda has inspired architects all over the world for over five centuries.

“In Padua was born and in Vicenza deployed Andrea Palladio – the only architect in world history, whose name is given to the style. To avoid going into architectural details, the easiest thing to conjure up is the Great Theater or the district House of Culture – they are what they are thanks to Palladio. And if one were to make a list of people whose efforts have made the world – at least the world of the Hellenic-Christian tradition from California to Sakhalin – look the way it looks, and not otherwise, Palladio would take the top spot.”

La Rotonda is a country villa built on a hilltop near Vicenza for a retired Vatican official, Paolo Almerico. The villa was built in Renaissance style under the direction of Andrea Palladio (1567 – 1580) and after his death under the direction of Palladio’s pupil, the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi (1580 – 1591). After passing into the ownership of the Capra brothers in 1591, Villa Almerico was renamed Villa Capra. Sometimes it is called Villa Almerico Capra.

One of the first private homes in history designed in the form of an ancient temple. It is characterized by a perfect symmetry based on carefully calculated mathematical proportions. The villa has four identical facades with Ionic porticoes to which there is a balustrade with statues of ancient gods.

Built in the proportions of the golden ratio, it is almost devoid of decoration, small in size and composed of simple geometric volumes. In the center of the building is a circular hall topped by a dome with a skylight; around the rotunda hall are four rectangular rooms. For the Palladian architects it was the most revered example of a manor house. Thousands of buildings all over the world were built in its image, from the American estate of Monticello to the Cathedral of Sophia in Tsarskoye Selo.

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Unlike many monuments of Renaissance architecture that tacitly oppose the surrounding landscape, the villa fits perfectly into it. From the front gates to it runs a wide avenue for carriages.Palladio achieved in this work of his harmony with nature, unknown to European architecture since antiquity.

Vincenzo Scamozzi, who was responsible for the completion and furnishing of the villa after Palladio’s death, topped it with a rotunda dome in the likeness of the Pantheon in Rome. From the circular opening at the top of the dome, the architects intended for sunlight to pour into the circular living room in the center of the building. Its walls are covered with elaborate frescoes. All the other rooms were designed so that the sun would peek into them evenly during the day as well.

The last known owner of the monument was Mario di Valmarana (d. 2011), a member of the Italian Valmarana family and retired professor of architecture at the University of Virginia. Interestingly, the main building of this university (the so-called Rotunda) was also designed by Thomas Jefferson and modeled on the Villa Rotunda. The influence of this Palladian masterpiece is also marked by the unrealized design of the presidential palace in Washington, which was designed by Jefferson

Palladio described the Rotunda as a place “that caresses the eye and gives pleasure. under the close heavens.” Once it became clear that the views on each side of the villa were “magnificent,” loggias were constructed on all four facades.

Goethe, who had studied Greco-Roman antiquity during his Italian travels, was particularly interested in the works of Palladio. In them he sensed the life-giving power of the revived ancient world. Vicenza, Palladio’s city, was one of the important goals of his journey. “To appreciate the true beauty and harmony of the proportions of these magnificent structures, one must see them with his own eyes,” Goethe wrote in his diary after seeing the palaces of Vicenza.

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At the Villa Rotonda Goethe visited September 21, 1786. “. Today I visited the so-called” Rotonda “- a magnificent house on a beautiful hill, a half-hour walk from the city. This quadrangular building encloses a circular hall with an overhead light. From all four sides one ascends it by wide stairs and each time one enters the portico formed by six columns. It seems that architecture has never before allowed itself such luxury. The space occupied by the staircases and porticoes is much larger than that occupied by the house itself, for each side of it individually could pass for a temple.

Inside, I would call it a cozy structure, though it is not adapted for habitation. The proportions of the hall are truly beautiful, and so are the rooms. But it’s rather cramped for a summer stay of a noble family. But the house reigns over the whole surroundings, and from wherever you look – it’s beautiful.

And in what variety the traveler sees a whole array of the building together with the protruding columns! The owner has fully realized his intention – to leave for posterity a major and at the same time sensual monument to his wealth. And if this building, in all its splendor, is visible from any point in the surrounding countryside, the view from its windows is also a comfort to the eye.”

Villa Rotonda

In the second half of the XVI century in Italian architecture is a process of separation in different directions. Some architects continue the traditions of the Renaissance, but without their creative rethinking and development. Others begin to develop new principles, which subsequently form the features of Baroque stylistics.

A famous architect of that time Andrea Palladio (1518-1580) became the founder of the classical style in Italian architecture. All his life the architect lived in the city of Vicenza and almost all buildings in it are built on projects Palladio.

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villa rotunda

One of the best works of architectural art Andrea Palladio is Villa Rotonda, built in the middle of the 16th century. It is situated on a hill, surrounded by picturesque nature. The Villa Rotonda was commissioned by the Vatican nobleman Paolo Almerico, who held a high position in the Vatican.

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In 1591 Almerico sold his villa to the Capra brothers, after which the structure was renamed Villa Capra. Since then the name has stuck, although some historians call it Villa Almerico Capra.

villa rotunda

The elegant Villa Rotonda building is striking in its exquisite beauty and luxury. The building became a classic example of architecture for many generations of future masters. In imitation of the creative manner of Andrea Palladio an entire stylistic trend in architecture grew up – Palladianism, which attracted many young followers.

villa rotunda

Villa Rotonda (Capra) is one of the first residential buildings erected in the style of ancient temple architecture. It was built in a perfect symmetric form based on a meticulous mathematical calculation.

villa rotunda

Villa Capra is a centric structure raised on a high pedestal. The four sides of the building are adorned by porticoes with six columns, reached by steps. The balustrade is decorated with statues of the gods of antiquity.

villa rotunda

After the death of Andre Palladio, the villa was reworked by the architect Vincenzo Scamozzi, who built the final element, the dome rotunda. The construction is crowned by a dome erected on a low drum. The exterior of the Villa Rotunda is fully consistent with the architectural features of the Ionic order.

villa rotunda

In the central part of the dome was designed hole round, through which the sunlight was to penetrate into the central room of the building – the living room. The walls of the room were lavishly decorated with frescoes, the drawings on which had the effect of a three-dimensional image.

villa rotunda

The Villa Rotonda fits perfectly into the landscape design of the estate. A luxurious wide avenue leads from the front gates to the entrance to the building. The architects Palladio and Scamozzi succeeded in achieving a perfect harmony of the building with nature in their architectural creation, which in general was not characteristic of European architecture of the Early Renaissance.

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villa rotunda

In addition, Andrea Palladio has gone down in history not only as a talented architect – a practitioner. Kept his treatise “Four Books on Architecture,” which became one of the classic works of the theory of architecture.

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At present, Villa Rotonda is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many generations of people continue to admire the beauty and perfection of the building of the villa, the harmony and refinement of its architectural appearance.

villa rotunda

Villa Rotonda : 1 comment

Villa Rotonda is one of the most amazing examples of architecture, which strikes with its beauty and refinement of lines. Observing its exquisite lines, you can say that it is a real poetry embodied in this masterpiece of architecture.

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