Villa La Rotonda

Vicenza, Italy

Villa La Rotonda is a Renaissance villa just outside Vicenza, designed by Andrea Palladio. Along with other works by Palladio, the building is conserved as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto'.

In 1565 a priest, Paolo Almerico, on his retirement from the Vatican, decided to return to his home town of Vicenza and build a country house. Building began in 1567. Neither Palladio nor the owner, Paolo Almerico, were to see the completion of the villa. Palladio died in 1580 and a second architect, Vincenzo Scamozzi, was employed by the new owners to oversee the completion. This house was to be one of Palladio's best-known legacies to the architectural world.

The design is for a completely symmetrical building having a square plan with four facades, each of which has a projecting portico. The whole is contained within an imaginary circle which touches each corner of the building and centres of the porticos. The name La Rotonda refers to the central circular hall with its dome.

Palladio had intended it to be covered by a high semi-circular dome but Scamozzi designed a lower dome with an oculus (intended to be open to the sky) inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. The dome was ultimately completed with a cupola.


The interior design of the Villa was to be as wonderful, if not more so, than the exterior. Alessandro and Giovanni Battista Maganza and Anselmo Canera were commissioned to paint frescoes in the principal salons.

Among the four principal salons on the piano nobile are the West Salon and the East Salon, which contains an allegorical life story of the first owner Paolo Almerico, his many admirable qualities portrayed in fresco.

The highlight of the interior is the central, circular hall, surrounded by a balcony and covered by the domed ceiling; it soars the full height of the main house up to the cupola, with walls decorated in trompe l'oeil. Abundant frescoes create an atmosphere that is more reminiscent of a cathedral than the principal salon of a country house.

From the porticos, wonderful views of the surrounding countryside can be seen; this is no coincidence as the Villa was designed to be in perfect harmony with the landscape.



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Founded: 1567
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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User Reviews

Vlado ST (11 months ago)
Villa Rotonda is the Renaissance country house architect Andrea Palladia from 1569 in Vicenze area. Villa Rotonda was the first, of many who followed, a country house with a dome. Especially during paladiatanism in the architecture of the 18th century in England and America.
Laura G (13 months ago)
Awesome villa built by Palladio. I booked a tour for €15 was told it was only in Italian. I was there through the entire Italian portion when the guide found out we only spoke English. He then took us around the villa for a quick 15-minute English tour and explained everything. Beautiful place and great customer service...worth the stop! Note: scaffolding up now for building repairs until Oct 2021.
Andrey Novoselov (19 months ago)
A Palladian villa that is among the most influential buildings in the history of Western architecture. Standing on a hill outside Vicenza in northern Italy, the Villa Capra, also known as La Rotonda, was designed by Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580). It was built as a country house for a high-ranking clergyman, prelate Paolo Almerico, who had returned to Vicenza after a career in the Vatican Court, and its vibrant interior was decorated with spectacular frescoes celebrating Christian virtue. Harmony and serenity. Begun in 1567, Villa Capra reflects Palladio’s profound study of the buildings of ancient Rome. It is an almost perfectly symmetrical structure, with a domed cylindrical central hall surrounded by identical columned porticos, modeled on Roman temples such as the Pantheon (see pp.104–105), on all four sides. As a result, the villa appears balanced and sophisticated from whichever angle it is viewed, and its careful placement in the landscape gives a harmonious view of the “natural theater” surrounding it. Completed after Palladio’s death in 1580 by his pupil Vincenzo Scamozzi, the building has since been an inspiration to architects across the Western world, who have been fascinated by the perfection of its formal beauty.
EMEL M (2 years ago)
This masterpiece had been designed by Andrea Palladio in the 16th century. Unfortunately when we got there it was closed, it was a wednesday. Still we got to see the building through the gate, which was already very impressive. Hopefully next time we go there it will be open for a visit inside as well.
Kathryn Willis (2 years ago)
I'm a fan of Jeffersonian architecture, so even though Jefferson did not see this fabulous innovative home, he certainly knew it well from drawings, and from similar examples in the south of France. The grounds are gorgeous, the building still majestic, and the flash of creativity and innovation is stellar.
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