Ca' Foscari, the palace of the Foscari family, is a Gothic building on the waterfront of the Grand Canal in Venice. In 1453 the Republic of Venice regained possession of the older palace and sold it to the Doge of the time, Francesco Foscari; he had the palace demolished and rebuilt in late Venetian gothic style. The building was chosen by the doge for its position on the Grand Canal.
Foscari immediately set about rebuilding the palace in a manner befitting his status: he moved the site of the new palace forward on to the bank of the Grand Canal. Buying and rebuilding the palace for himself meant for the doge affirming his political and military role: he actually represented the continuity of the military successes of that period, lasted 30 years, and was the promoter of the Venetian expansion in the mainland (terraferma). The huge new palace could hardly have been finished when Foscari was disgraced in 1457 and retired to his new home until his death.
Presently the palace is the headquarters of the Ca' Foscari University, which has made accessible to the public some of the most beautiful halls, such as the 'Aula Baratto' and the 'Aula Berengo'.
Ca' Foscari is a typical example of the residence of the Venetian nobles and merchants. The structure is one of the most imposing buildings of the city and its external courtyard is the biggest courtyard of a private house after that of the Doge's Palace. In common with other palaces, Ca' Foscari's principal and most decorated facade and entrance faced the Grand Canal - the city's main thoroughfare. This façade is characterized by a rhythmic sequence of arches and windows; this style, known as Floral Gothic, is emulated throughout the city and can be identified through the use of pointed arches and carved window heads. At Ca' Foscari, the tops of each column are decorated with carved quatrefoil patterns; the Gothic capitals are adorned with foliage, animals and masks. Above the Gothic window is a marble frieze with a helmet surmounted with a lion couchant representing the role of the doge as the captain of the republic; at each side of the central helmet we can find two putti holding a shield symbolising the Foscari's coat of arms with the winged lion of Saint Mark, symbol of Venice.References:
The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires.
In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was built there for foreign merchants coming to the nearby Týn Courtyard. Later it was replaced by an early Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn in 1256. Construction of the present church began in the 14th century in the late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. By the beginning of the 15th century, construction was almost complete; only the towers, the gable and roof were missing. The church was controlled by Hussites for two centuries, including John of Rokycan, future archbishop of Prague, who became the church's vicar in 1427. The roof was completed in the 1450s, while the gable and northern tower were completed shortly thereafter during the reign of George of Poděbrady (1453–1471). His sculpture was placed on the gable, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. The southern tower was not completed until 1511, under architect Matěj Rejsek.
After the lost Battle of White Mountain (1620) began the era of harsh recatholicisation (part of the Counter-Reformation). Consequently, the sculptures of 'heretic king' George of Poděbrady and the chalice were removed in 1626 and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant halo made from by melting down the chalice. In 1679 the church was struck by lightning, and the subsequent fire heavily damaged the old vault, which was later replaced by a lower baroque vault.
Renovation works carried out in 1876–1895 were later reversed during extensive exterior renovation works in the years 1973–1995. Interior renovation is still in progress.
The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.
The early baroque altarpiece has paintings by Karel Škréta from around 1649. The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe.