Andrea Palladio Architecture

Villa Pisani

The Villa Pisani is a patrician villa designed by Andrea Palladio, located in Bagnolo, a hamlet in the comune of Lonigo. The Pisani were a rich family of Venetian nobles who owned several Villas Pisani, two of them designed by Andrea Palladio. The villa at Bagnolo was built in the 1540s and represents Palladio's first villa designed for a patrician family of Venice (his earlier villa commissions were from provincial nobi ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Lonigo, Italy

Villa Chiericati

Villa Chiericati was designed for Giovanni Chiericati by the architect Andrea Palladio in the early 1550s. In 1996 UNESCO included the villa in the World Heritage Site City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto. The villa is square and a portico projects from its principal facade. The principal rooms are built upon a piano nobile above a semi-basement. The upper floor is very much of secondary importance. The ...
Founded: 1550s | Location: Vancimuglio, Italy

Villa Valmarana

The Villa Valmarana (also known as Valmarana Scagnolari Zen) is a Renaissance villa situated in Lisiera, a locality of Bolzano Vicentino. Designed by Andrea Palladio, it was originally built in the 1560s. The villa was nearly totally destroyed during World War II, but has been rebuilt. Even before the war damage, the building did not closely resemble the plan which Palladio published in his I Quattro Libri dell"Arch ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Bolzano Vicentino, Italy

Villa Gazzotti Grimani

Villa Gazzotti Grimani is a Renaissance villa, an early work of architect Andrea Palladio. In 1994 UNESCO designated it as part of the World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and Palladian Villas of the Veneto'. The villa was designed and built in the 1540s for the Venetian Taddeo Gazzotti and, like a number of Palladio"s buildings, it incorporates a pre-existing structure. In 1550, before the building was co ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Villa Trissino

Villa Trissino was mainly built in the 16th century and is associated by tradition with the architect Andrea Palladio. The building is of undeniable importance in the Palladio 'mythos'. Since 1994 the villa has been part of a World Heritage Site which was designated to protect the Palladian buildings of Vicenza and Veneto area. It is uncertain whether this villa was designed by Palladio, but it is one of the ce ...
Founded: 1530s | Location: Vicenza, Italy

Villa Thiene

Villa Thiene is a 16th-century villa at Quinto Vicentino. The building as it stands today is the work of several architects one of whom was Andrea Palladio. Like several other projects on which Palladio worked, it was commissioned by two brothers, in this case Marcantonio and Adriano Thiene. Since 1996, the villa has been conserved as part of a World Heritage Site, the 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Quinto Vicentino, Italy

Villa Forni Cerato

The Villa Forni Cerato is a 16th-century villa in Montecchio Precalcino. Its design is attributed to Andrea Palladio and his client is assumed to have been Girolamo Forni, a wealthy wood merchant who supplied building material for a number of the Palladio"s projects. The attribution to Palladio is partly on stylistic grounds, although this is a complicated issue - the building departs from the Palladian norms. The v ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Montecchio Precalcino, Italy

Villa Trissino

Villa Trissino is an incomplete aristocratic villa designed by Andrea Palladio, situated in the hamlet of Meledo. It was intended for the brothers Ludovico and Francesco Trissino. It should not to be confused with Villa Trissino at Cricoli, which is 20 km away, just outside Vicenza. Villa Trissino, like most of the Palladian villas, was to be the centre of an agricultural estate built for an aristocratic family. What sur ...
Founded: 1560s | Location: Meledo, Italy

Villa Serego

Villa Serego was built for the aristocratic Sarego family, and designed by Andrea Palladio. The villa is distinctive for its use of rusticated columns of the Ionic order. The villa was commissioned by the Venetian nobleman Marcantonio Sarego for an estate which came into his possession in 1552. A rough date for its execution is c. 1560-1570. In 1857 further construction took place, which makes the villa appear finished b ...
Founded: 1560-1570 | Location: Pedemonte, Italy

Villa Valmarana

Villa Valmarana (also known as Valmarana Bressan) is a patrician villa at Vigardolo, Monticello Conte Otto. The building is attributed to Andrea Palladio on the basis of an extant drawing of the villa that is undoubtedly by the great architect. The villa was constructed during the 1540s, so it is one of Palladio"s earlier works. It was commissioned by two cousins of the Valmarana family. The layout of the rooms sugg ...
Founded: 1540s | Location: Monticello Conte Otto, Italy

Villa Porto

Villa Porto was designed in 1554 and traditionally attributed to the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, but not included by UNESCO in the strict list of Palladian Villas of Veneto In 1554, Paolo Porto and his brothers divided up their father’s inheritance, Paolo acquiring an estate at Vivaro, north of Vicenza. Here, during the subsequent four years, he realised a villa which tradition holds was designed by Palladio. Th ...
Founded: 1554 | Location: Dueville, Italy

Villa Zeno

Villa Zeno in Cessalto is the most easterly villa designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The building is near the highway between Venice and Trieste, but was built to face a canal which served as the primary means of arrival. Palladio"s building for the Zeno family has been dated to the 1550s. It is illustrated in I Quattro Libri dell"Architettura, the architect"s influential publication of 157 ...
Founded: 1550s | Location: Cessalto, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.