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 Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).