Architectural Piece Venice

Venice is not an Italian city. It is spread out over 118 islands connected by canals and bridges in the north of Italy. Mavericks fled the mainland to seek greater freedom in the islands. Its earliest citizens were fleeing from major city centers to escape, plague, and rival political factions to have greater personal liberties. The Moors used Venice frequently and strongly influenced the citizens and architecture. Florence had the great thinkers and the Medici family, but Venice was a city of doers as they created a city from lagoons. It is technically Italian, but has strong Islamic influences.

This separation from the mainland by mavericks has led to a different culture. Italians are long that to be fanatical in their Catholicism, but in Venice perhaps due to the rain is more pessimistic. Religion is not central to the culture of the city. They also were open-minded allowing maritime trade with Moors, who rejected Catholicism as well. By the 13th century, Venice was a hub in the spice trade lending itself to different flavors in the traditional cuisine. Given its open nature there are Islamic, Byzantine and Latin Christian traditions and influences.

One such edifice is the Saint Mark’s church, which is a copy of the original Byzantine church. It is a replica of the tradition. Domes are a key component in this style. There are traditionally five domes. The pendentives are domes over square compartments. However in this Venetian church the caps on the dome resemble minarets that are long spires that look topped by bulbous onions which are typical in mosques. The maritime influence is one of displaying what has been seen. The city uses Islamic influence in an almost sacrilegious way to use mosque elements in a church. This would not have happened in mainland Italy.

Traditional Italians have pledged allegiance to Catholicism. They light candles to saints and have been known to wail in church for penance. To even suggest one is not a good Catholic is blasphemous. To use Islamic style openly in a Catholic establishment so openly is a brave choice. Venice is open minded enough to accomplish this architectural feat. Being so separate from the mainland enables the culture to take what it likes from the country, but to also add personalized touches without fear of social repercussions. Not only did Venetians accept Moorish influence, they also allowed Jews who were being persecuted in the mainland to find work and establish their own culture. This is a cosmopolitan attitude whereas the mainland was quite traditional.

Although Venice is sinking, it is nowhere near being a modern day Atlantis.

An Architect Conquers the World Through Beauty.

Some men feel they have to conquer the world through war. An architect conquers the world through beauty. Leon Battista Alberti was so passionate about architecture; he believed it was almost a divine mission. Human minds naturally build. Humanity is aware of the brevity of life and seeks to build something great as a way of remembrance. Alberti considers this and takes it one step further. He balanced reality and idealism.

Alberti was a proponent of math uniting arts and sciences. This Renaissance man Leon Battista Alberi, one of the most important architects of the Italian Humanist movement (

In order for art to be pleasing, it must be in harmony. The only way to do that is to think in terms of proportions. Math is present in architectural representation with its emphasis on harmony. Alberti felt art should seek to be intimate with nature, but also be attentive to beauty. Math is necessary to create a sense of balance.

Alberti sought to have architecture perceived as an intellectual and professional discipline rather than a craft. It was deemed necessary to have its own theoretical context. The buildings of antiquity could be resurrected again and how they can be built with a modern sensibility. Alberti went to great lengths to discuss how building should be built. He was a man of many talents and he was considered by many to be a true Renaissance man. In fact, he was awarded by the Vatican to participate in papal constructions.

Tempio Malatestiano was originally a Gothic church in the 13th century. It had a simple nave ending in three apses. Many buildings remained from a bygone era and were considered by many to be eyesores. Visionary men like Alberti saw their potential to be updated. He sought to be unique. This was an experiment as it was his first foray into ecclesiastical architectural work. Aberti sought to pay homage to Romanesque architecture. He saw the beauty in the old and sought to make it new age. He drew his inspiration for a triumphal arch. The best example of the celebratory building is in Paris as the Arc d’ Triumph. Seen in his. Many sculptures. Triangular pediment. “In his treatise on architecture, Alberti would introduce the term tempio as the appropriate term for a church because it effectively reconciled the achievements of the ancients with the needs of the modern day (


Indeed, the building “defines beauty and consonance of the parts within the body” and “dimensionally the façade suggests a conflict between measure and proportion visually however this disjunction is used to emphasize the hierarchy , and therefore the harmony of the façade as perceived” (T.A. Anstey Fictive Harmonies: Music and the Tempio Malatestiano). There is some negative connotations as “ the church of San Francesco, Rimini was recased as a monument to the glory of the tyrant of Rimini, Sigismondo Malatesta.

The building was designed by Leon Battista Alberti(1404-72), one of “l’uomo universale” in Renaissance period. The director of the construction was Matteo de’Pasti and the designer of the interior was Agostino di Dccio (


Works Cited

“Alberti Theory and Building.” College of Creative Arts – Miami University. (accessed September 27, 2013).

Anstey, T.A.. “Fictive Harmonies: Music and the Tempio Malatestiano.” Anthropology and Aesthetics 36, no. Autumn 1999 (1999): 186-204.

“History of Renaissance Architecture : San Francesco (Tempio Malatestiano).” (accessed September 27, 2013).

“Tempio Malatestiano [3493] – GPS Riccione.” GPS Riccione. (accessed September 27, 2013).