Villa Rotunda, 1551

The Villa Rotunda, a vacation home just outside of Vicenza, illustrates several of Palladio's ideas. One is the importance of site in regards to the points of the compass as discussed in his Four Books of Architecture. Here he has placed the villa on a hilltop where it is embedded in its natural surrounding, radiating out over the land. Also demonstrated here is the application of the temple front to a secular building. The porticoes are topped with pediments and statues and the whole is topped with the dome. Before this structure personal secular buildings did not make use of elements traditionally found in religious buildings. By including the temple front and the dome, which links this to the Roman pagan temple, the Pantheon, Palladio created a new style of architecture. Even though it may have enraged some at the time, this combination of sacred and secular architecture would be copied for the rest of history, especially for civic buildings. The most prominent examples of this being the United States Capitol in Washington, DC and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia, both started in the late 18th century.

With six Ionic columns creating an open loggia on all four sides, Palladio has enhanced the absolute symmetry. As shown in the plan, the Rotunda is basically a circle in square, conceptually going back to Bramante, Brunelleschi, and of course the mathematical theories of Vitruvius.

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