INTRODUCTION dome is to be understood as an
are many architects who agree that Villa Rotunda the ideals that Palladio set
forth in Quattro Libri (1570). His villa have been copied but often cheerlessly
or no idea of context or culture. The fact that drawings by Palladio in actual
does not match with those published in Quattro Libri. Moreover, recently,
Semenzato has obtained more between condition and accurate plans by using polygonal
(1990). There have been various drawings, architectural scale models been
produced in order to explain harmony and proportion of building.
of proportions in the natural world such as those from measurements of the
human body or musical interval in the expression of harmony in the universe
became very common in the field of art and architecture during the Renaissance
period (Wittkower 24). No other architect in western art history has had so spontaneous,
and at the same time, through the centuries, so enduring and undiminished an
effect as Andrea Palladio. The inalienable laws of nature derived by man from
its economice principles and aesthetic principles is exhibited applied analogously
to architecture. Accordingly, people not only belived that there was one
objectively correct design, which reflected form of divine interventions. He established rules of proportions on room
dimensions based on mathematical calculations required for creation of building
and had to be experience by viewers and visitors.
other villa of Palladio’s won admiration from contemporaries and following
generations to an equal degree as Villa Rotunda. Situated south east of Vicenza
in the hill region of the Monte Berico, it seems to grow directly out of the
landscape: the facades, which are the same on all four sides and have porticos,
taking up the rising level on the ground in the light of steps; the central
dome is to be understood as an elevation over the hilltop. The attic was not
built until 1725-1740, although it was obviously planned by Palladio, and was
an essential component of his intentions.
himself pointed out the close connection of landscape and building his Quattro Libri del’ Architettura. On one
hand the close blending, indeed fusion of landscape and architecture is
characteristic and on the other hand this building, which was built according
to strict proportions and embodies the idea of centralized building in a
complete manner, stands as pure creation of art in contrast to evolved nature.
Concrete things, or nature and abstract things, i.e. precisely thought out
architectural forms, contrast with each other. On first levels, the villa
rotunda creates a work of mannerism
building is characterized by perfectly symmetrical proportions. In tradition of
classical antiquity, its beauty is derived from harmony of the number and
proportion, or to quote Vitruvius; proper agreement between the members of the
work itself, and relation between parts. Gabled portico with five columns are
found on all four sides of the central core. Hence, there is no difference
between the primary and secondary facades. The porticos take up half of the
overall width. The portico and stairs each correspond to half of its diameter
of the core building. This is, in turn, identical to overall height, so that
core of the building looks like cube from outside.
concept of central plan, which was realized here to such perfection, seems like
a “purely” artificial structure in comparison to the natural world around it.
In his Quattro libri Palladio explains: “The site is as pleasant and delightful
as can be found; because it is upon a small hill, of very easy access…it is
encompasses by the most pleasant risings, which look like a very great theatre…
and therefore, as it enjoys he most beautiful views from sides… there are
loggias on all the four fonts.” Guided by Palladio in this manner, we are able
to approach this building in an entirely different manner; it seems to grow up
out of the landscape, the stairway on the facade echo the incline of the
terrain, the central dome can be seen as an amplification of the hilltop. Does
the central plan building crown the site- or, conversely, does the hill grow up
through the building? Organic growth- nature- and the abstract- precisely
calculated architectural form- penetrate each other.
entering the villa expecting to find all the lines of sight unified at the
center of the domed hall- a spot clearly marked by a circle of colored marble
on the floor- will undoubtedly be surprised by the darkness of this windowless
room. One’s graze is drawn through the narrow access ways connecting the
porticoes to the domed hall on all four sides to the sun- drenched landscape
outside. Centering and centrifugal forces generate tension in the diametrical
relationship to each other. This contrast can be reconfigured as a design
element that became characteristic of Mannerism.
there is no information on Palladio’s ideas for interior design of the main
room. The painting found there today was not done until 1680- 1687 by Lodovico
Dorigny and his assistants. Its effect is an irrational “destruction” of the
walls and their architectural structure. The villa Rotunda gave rise to a vast
tradition in villa architecture.
flights of steps, each with about twenty steps, lead between horizontal
stringboards up to the column arrangement, which on all sides projects far into
the garden. Palladio here uses once again the motif of an arcade on massive
pillars which protrudes from the wall at right angles, against which each of
the corner columns stands out freely. Of the five intercolumniations, the
central one is accentuated by being slightly wider. Its counterpart on the
walls of the cubical main building is richly profiled and gabled main portal.
The modelled and strongly protruding door gables are connected with the frames
at the sides of the doors by elegantly sweeping volutes. The accompanying
openings, windows drawn down nearly to floor level, are cut simply into the
surface of the walls in the axis of the side column arrangements.
chose the iconic order for his porticos, whose capitals with volutes rolled up
at the sides lead from the vertical line of the columns to the horizontal line
of the ledge and base of the triangular gable. The inscription plaques over the
central column arrangements refer to Count Capra, who bought the villa in 1591
and are therefore later additions.
always, Palladio connects the individual parts of the building by formal
correspondences or parallels. The ledge between the portico columns and the
triangular gables is continued around the building, and Palladio again strongly
emphasizes the smoothly sweeping profile in a way which has been familiar since
the “basilica”. The windows in the wall surfaces next to the front of the
columns take over the framing of the main portals- on the one hand the
connection of the portico and the wall surfaces, on the other that of the walls
which are at right angles to each other. The base storey, whose height is
continued by the walls at the sides of the steps, approximately corresponds
both in height and windowing to the Attic storey, but certainly, in its
function as the base for the entire building, appears more massive due to
simply layered profile.
proportions and principles become clear in the ground- plan with positively
mathematical precision. The porticos take up half the width of the cubical
central building. The column entrance halls and flight of steps each
corresponds to half the depth of the core of the building. A narrow barrel-
vaulted passage leads from each side into a central room built on a circular
ground plan. Rectangular rooms are ordered in a regular sequence around the
central domed room.
external view, ground plan and cross section of the Villa Rotunda seem to
embody the ideal of the centralized building in a purity which the High
Renaissance often dreamt of but rarely realized. The surprise of the visitor
entering the doomed room in all the greater. While the middle of the
centralized lay-out is once again emphasized by a lion’s head, let into the
floor, from which alternatively red and white patterns radiate like spokes of
the wheel, the impression of a center that gathers all he forces in itself
fails to come across: without any direct light the room remains dark, the
almost shaft- like corridor on all four sides inevitably draw one’s eyes
outwards in the direction of the light. In place of centripetal forces, for
which both the whole and details seem to be planned, there appear on the
contrary centrifugal impulses of movement.
Comparable with the tense relationship between nature and art in the
external view, Palladio interprets a classical principle in a strictly anti-
classical sense in the disposition of rooms inside his Villa Rotunda.
the superabundant decoration of sculptures and paintings would have
corresponded to Palladio’s intentions in something we do not know. The themes
if the frescoes in the lower area of the great hall in the Villa rotunda are
borrowed from ancient mythology. Echoing the representative function of the
villa, no scenes of “vita in villa” are depicted, but individual ancient gods. Ludovico
Dorigny did architectural sculptures and painting for the building. Between
1680 and 1687, he decorated the walls below the balustrade in the style of
lavish illusory Baroque. Other than in decoration were widening of room, he
altered the walls of painted architecture and sculptures apparently placed in
front of the walls to create small sections and a diversity that is contrary to
Andrea Palladio’s architectural concept.