"Palaces of Venice" presents 62 great buildings from the 13th to the 19th century. Hundreds of full-colour photographs show the exteriors and the interiors of the palazzi and the text relates the fascinating history of each architectural masterpiece. From the 12th and 13th centuries on, the Venetian Gothic style, much-extolled by John Ruskin in his book "The Stones of Venice", started to develop. The main features of this style were pointed arches, mullioned windows with several lights, and the interplay of coloured marble. As such, the style clearly reveals the Byzantine influence stemming from the political ties and the trading links that Venice had established with the Orient. Today, sadly little remains of the bright multi-coloured effects that were typical of the Venetian Gothic style. In the 13th century, the first monumental private buildings were designed, such as the large Palazzo dei Pesaro, subsequently known as the Fondaco dei Turchi, and the traditional typology of the Venetian palace was drawn up. With its three-part, its function as a residence was combined with that of offices and warehouses.
The main facade, with its distinctive central group of windows, invariably gave onto a canal; the entrance hall, stretching from one end of the building to the other and thus giving access to it from both land and water, was flanked by large storehouses on the ground floor; and on the upper floor there were various rooms along the central portego. In the centuries that followed, the architects Mauro Codussi and Jacopo Sansovino reinterpreted these typical features of Venice's Gothic palaces in a Renaissance key, Baldassare Longhena introduced the Baroque taste, and Giannantonio Selva continued to use these Gothic features but adapted them to the neo-classical style. The large number of palaces is a direct result of the burgeoning nobility and the far-reaching branches of the various families. Down the centuries, the various lines of the Contarini family, for example, built more than 25 palaces. In order to distinguish the various residences from one another, they were named combining the family name with a word indicating a specific characteristic of the building or of the family branch itself. Nowadays few palaces still belong to the descendants of those age-old proprietors.
Most of patrician families have died out or moved elsewhere, and very few of the surviving families have preserved the heritage of a bygone era. Many palaces have been turned into hotels, some house public and private offices, and others have been divided up into apartments. For all this, Venice has lost none its charm, and the rooms of some palaces still reverberate today with balls and parties organized in honour of some famous guest who had come from afar to drink from, and get drunk on, the magical atmosphere of this city.
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(258mm x 214mm x 25mm)
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