Basilica Palladiana: A Giant in the Heart of Vicenza


Right in the heart of Vicenza, at the Piazza dei Signori thrones the Basilica Palladiana. It’s actually, and has never been a clerical building, a church or basilica, but rather a Pallazo, a palace. But the architect of the building in it’s current form, Andrea Palladio, called it a Basilica, after a civil structure of ancient Rome.

Palladio was actually not the architect of the original building (two Palazzos, to be precise), built in the 15th century. But when the original structures collapsed in 1496, Andrea Palladio, still a young, upcoming architect, was asked to reconstruct the building. Palladio added the marble shell in Renaissance style to a brick core in Gothic style. Palladio added a loggia and a portico in what was going to become his signature style, which can be admired across Veneto in many Palazzos designed by this skilled architect, who is the most famous son of Vicenza. Palladio was not able to admire his finished building, since the Basilica was completed 30 years after Palladio’s death.

The tower, called Torre della Bissara, precedes both the building extension by Palladio as well as the previous Gothic structures and has been mentioned as early as 1172, but the height was increased during Palladio’s reconstruction.

The Basilica de Palladio is a gigantic structure, dwarfing everything around it. Even though the square in front of it, Piazza dei Signori is huge by it’s own right, it can be a challenge taking good pictures of the Basilica, since you’re just not far enough away from it to fit it into the picture in a pleasing manner. I couldn’t help thinking that it doesn’t quite fit there, into small, charming Vicenza.


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