Andrea Palladio - Villa Rotonda

At Northern part of Italy near Vicenza, harmoniously incorporated in gentle slopes, lies one of most important renaissance architectural landmarks – Villa Almerico, Villa Almerico – Capra, Villa la Rotonda, Villa Rotonda or just simply La Rotonda. All of which are the names palace wore throughout the history. It was naed either by its owners or its remarcable form. The architect Andrea Palladio (Andrea di Pietro della Gondola), designed number of mansions and palaces, however this one leaves the strongest influence on work of future generations of architects and development of architecture as such.

Villa Rotonda, Andrea Palladio, Vicenza

Noble man and priest Paolo Almerico, leaving its service in Vatican, returns to his home town Vicenza and decides to build his new home, an urban residence just outside the city. That is how this house got its first name – Villa Almerico. Palladio himself calls this building the palace, underlying its difference from other constructions built in same time period near Veneta, resembling mostly at homes on a farm.

Unfortunately, neither architect nor the original owner lived long enough to see the building finalised and done. Finalization of construction was entrusted to architect Vicenco Skamoci, while new owners were Capra brothers, which is how the building got yet another name – Villa Capra.

Base Blueprint Villa Rotonda, Anrea Palladio, Vicenza

Renaissance architecture lies on three basic principles taken from Antique Art: symmetry, proportion and harmony.  Looking at La Rotonda base blueprints it is straightforward application of these rules in Palladio’s design.

The house had dual symmetrical square base with four identical facades and four equal orientations. Taking care about the distribution of natural light in the interior, the base was rotated for 45 degrees in regards to cardinal points.Palladio is the first architect applied approachable staircases on residential houses such as the ones in Roman temples. Each of four porches with Ionian pillars, decorated with sculptures and covered with triangular gable, represents entry in the house. All of them lead to central circular space of the palace covered with dome. Precisely this central part was the inspiration for yet another name for this palace – Rotonda.  

Bisection, Villa Rotonda, Andrea Palladio, Vicenza

Central part of the house is a place from which over mentioned above porches, you have magnificent view on hilly landscape with which this property has inextricable connection. As defined by Palladio itself, relation between architecture and surrounding landscape, strict form of the house in correlation with nature playfulness creates atmosphere of the villa. It appears the whole construction of the villa lies on theses correlations. Square bases with circle in it, therefore symmetry of the palace opposing to its rest and relaxation purpose, private property built as public facility or a temple… Mentioned contrasts are transferred to interior as well.  

Interior, Villa Rotonda, Andrea Palladio, Vicenza

Interior of La Rotonda relies on designed facades of the palace but the level of interior decoration surpasses the exterior by far. The whole interior of the palace resembles more on interior of a Cathedral, than it does on private residence. Parlours are painted with Alessandro & Giovanni Battista Magancia and Anselm Canera frescoes. Among four main parlours Western parlour or Holly room, and Eastern parlour are the ones that stand out the most. In Western parlour frescoes are dominated by religious motives, while the walls of Eastern parlour are decorated by themes from the life of first owner – priest Paolo Almerico.

Villa Rotonda, Andrea Palladio, Vicenza

Through the project of this palace Palladio has established specific relation between architecture and its surrounding. Rotonda with its original engineering opens the conversation with the nature as its surrounding, it doesn’t adapt to the nature nor it transforms it. With its location, simple geometry, shape, smooth and calm decoration becomes model and inspiration in architecture worldwide.


Miljan Torma