Baroque and Roll in RomeApril 11, 2014 11:08 am
Whether you’re a professional architect, history buff or just an amateur lover of European buildings, you’ve probably come across the baroque style that is prominent throughout the continent and especially throughout Rome.
As Rome was the birthplace of this 17th century design, it’s not surprising that there are inescapable examples of the style wherever you look. It is believed – and widely heralded – that it was the creative genius of Gian Bernini, and so his consequent success meant that all ecclesiastical decoration over the period, including St Peters Basilica, was heavily influenced by this new theme. Bernini’s talents also influenced famous landmarks like the Trevi Fountain in later years, too.
You can easily go on a Baroque-spot across Rome, but to make it simple and to make sure you head to the right spots, we’ve outlined our top five ‘Baroque Bests’ in the city.
Sant’Andrea al Quirinale
Known as the “pearl of the baroque” the Church of Saint Andrew’s at the Quirinal is thought of as the best example of the baroque style in Rome. Constructed by 1661, Bernini himself considered the church one of his most perfect works, and was so humbled by what he had achieved that he spent countless hours inside the church in awe of what he had created as an artist.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Although Michelangelo is mostly to thank for the brilliance and splendour of St Peter’s Basilica, Bernini played his hand in a lot of the interior décor and design – as well as designing the entire square at the front of the grand church, complimented by the ring of columns and 140 of Bernini’s personal favourite saints whose statues overlook the square. On the inside, the large bronze and gold baroque ‘canopy’, the Baldachin, the stands over the main alter marking the place of St Peter’s tomb is one of the main features of the building. A master of all trades, Bernini also worked on the marble floor, too, meaning there are baroque influences throughout if you look carefully enough…
As the largest baroque fountain in Rome, and one of the most famous in the world, the Trevi Fountain was actually designed by Nicola Salvi and Pietro Bracci in 1732. However, 100 years earlier Bernini had submitted initial designs to the Pope Urban VIII. Although the original design was discarded, there are undeniable Bernini-baroque influences throughout what we see today with its huge marble statues and figures and the dramatic water cascading down.
The Borghese Gallery is home to some of the finest examples of baroque statues and art, so make sure you stop in and see the statue of David which was sculpted by Bernini at the mere age of 25 – and whose face was even sculptured from a mould of Bernini’s own… Apollo and Daphne is another baroque masterpiece and perfect example of the emotive tones that run through the style.
Piazza Navona & Piazza di Spagna
Two of the most famous squares in Rome; Piazza Navona (surrounded by restaurants and glorified with two fountains) and Piazza di Spagna (at the foot of the iconic Spanish Steps), are another two examples of baroque architecture and its ungiving grasp on Rome. Just two of many squares influenced by the style, these two are central to Rome’s history and culture and are illustrative of the forms and techniques, such as the grandiose fountains and romantic detail. Look out for cupids and cherubs – they’re a tell-tell sign of baroque architecture.
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