Essentials of Baroque Architectural Style & Examples

Baroque movement, one of the most important styles of European architectural history, stand out in art fields such as architecture, music, theatre, literature and painting. It has developed and spreaded mostly in between 16th and 18th centuries. Baroque architectural style, the subject of this article, is famous with its gigantic sized gardens, quite ornamented walls and curved formed ornaments.

Borned as a reaction to the rule based, disciplined, rational and logical approach of the Renaissance, Baroque architecture is known for its dynamic, enthusiastic and sentimental attitude. Baroque period architectural buildings are unbelievable magnificent and ostentatious. This excited style has came to the forefront in spaces such as churches and palaces. Because, such places hosted for the religious and authoritarian powers’ shows of strength.

Baroque architectural style interior domes

Baroque art has preferred to form the nature instead of imitate it. The style presented many gorgeous examples to the architecture. In addition to this, there are different fields that Baroque has shaped them such as pictures, frescos, sculptures, fountain pools and grand gardens.

When did Baroque Architecture Start?

Italy, the homeland of the Renaissance, also did the honours for the birth of Baroque style architecture in the 16th century. The movement has spread to the Europe from there. Then, has decorated important palaces, cathedrals, churches, and luxury houses of Europe about 200 years.

First examples of Italian Baroque architecture have designed in Rome with the aim of attracting people to the catholic doctrine. We know that architecture had a propaganda function throughout history. Power elites has used architecture as a propaganda tool to control and direct perceptions of people in the fields of the religion, politics, the industry etc. many times.

Baroque buildings shaped around religious purposes had interior walls and ceilings that have pictures with biblical quotations. By means of this, the church has made people, who can’t read the Bible, to understand the Bible thanks to the Baroque architecture.

This attack of the catholic church in the field of arts is a counter-reformation to the protestant doctrine. The reformists like Martin Luther criticized that kinds of actions that the church did to get a financial power. By this means, an opponent movement getting popularize day by day against the church has emerged.

Following these developments, the church understood that punishing people heavily at the indulgence courts was wrong. Because, this has caused to make people pulling away from the church and to harm to the image of it.

As a result, pioneers of the catholic sect started a catholic revival to attract people again to their churches. And Baroque style of architecture was the key for this holly purpose.

Characteristics of Baroque Architecture

The architecture of the Baroque period has continued to use both essential rules of the classic era and the most important elements of classical orders. However, when it comes to the Baroque, expositions which is more free and full of imagination have entered the picture. In Baroque era, Architects used classical columns, friezes, pediments, domes, pilasters and many other architectural elements away from their usual forms. They also used architecture, sculpture, painting and other plastic arts together to impress people with the magnificence and enthusiasm of Baroque buildings.

Now, let’s look at what are main characteristics of Baroque architectural style.

Inside of Baroque buildings

Key Features of Baroque Style in Architecture

  • Emphasizing adornments with a form of oval, also curvelines and walls designed in curved and dynamic forms…
  • Improving the spiritual impacts of paintings and adornments exhibited on interior facades by dramatical using of light
  • Dramatical drawings adorning walls and ceilings, handling religious subjects and orienting perception with optical illusions
  • Blending of sculptures and paintings
  • Ceilings and walls with gold leafs
  • Convex and concave facades
  • Architectural elements that are unfinished or not completed wittingly are Baroque period arcchitecture characteristics.

Additionally; domes, spiral pillars, plague pillars that dedicated to the end of plague pandemic, medallion type and oval formed wide staircase landings are some typical elements of Baroque architectural period.

The End of Baroque Period

Some people identify late period Baroque with the Rococo movement. Whatever the name, this is the end of an important adventure in every sense. Starting with the classical period and continuing to shape the world with styles such as Renaissance and Gothic, great art movements of west ended with Baroque and Rococo.

There are several reasons behind this ending. For example, the liberty movement that French Revolution bring, downturn of the agriculture-based economies caused by the development of industries or the fact that the world was getting more modern and rational can be counted inside of these reasons. Additionally, the world was becoming more and more global in that period. Moreover, train lines and bridges, which are designed much more with rational solutions thanks to the engineering science, were impacting the architecture field.

In that new world, people didn’t think much that what kinds of style they should design their structures with anymore. Furthermore, with the use of materials such as iron and steel in the construction sector, function began to come to the fore as much as decoration.

Eventually, all of these developments and innovations caused closing the great movements era.

Famous Architects of Baroque Architectural Style

  • Francesco Borromini
  • Gian Lorenzo Bernini
  • João Antunes
  • Elias Holl
  • Louis Le Vau
  • Baldassare Longhena
  • Salomon de Brosse
  • Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt
  • Cristoph Dientzenhofer
  • Dominikus Zimmermann

Baroque Architecture Examples

1. Church of Gesu

The Church of Gesu
The Church of Gesu

The church of Gesu, construction of which started in 1568, is the first known example of the Baroque architecture.

2. Versailles Palace

Versailles Palace, the most important Baroque architecture palace of Europe
Versailles Palace

This palace represents the power of French royal family. So much so that, the Versailles which designed in the 17th century is perhaps the most popular and magnificent among the Baroque buildings.

Ceiling of Versailles Palace
A Ceiling of Versailles Palace

3. St. Peter’s Church (Basilica)

This basilica, located in Vatican, is quite important for the catholic sect. It’s regarded as the center for the sect and the biggest church of christians. Not only tourists, but also christians wanting to make their worship come here from the entire world every years.

Michelangelo had worked in the construction of this church. However, when he died, the progress of the constructing was stop. After many other architects worked there, the new pope Sixtus V. wanted Gianlorenzo Bernini to design the square at the front of St. Peter’s Basilica and continuous the construction.

Consequently, the building, whose construction started in 1506, was completed in 1626.

St. Peter's Church and Square of San Pietro
St. Peter’s Square

4. Saint Peter’s Square

The square, designed by Bernini, is belong to St. Peter’s Basilica. Christians visit here to receive prayer of the pope. This place is an extremely important religious center with its 284 columns.

5. St. Paul Cathedral

Cathedral of Saint Paul with Baroque architecturel style
Cathedral of Saint Paul – London

The architect of the building is Sir Arthur Christopher Wren. Saint Paul Cathedral is among the most important examples of English Baroque architecture.

The Baroque architectural style developed more slowly in northern Europe countries. Additionally, less magnificent buildings was designed there. For that reason, you can see that St. Paul’s Cathedral is designed less extravagantly compared to Italian Baroque architectural examples.

Other some famous Baroque architecture style examples:

  • San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane
  • St. Nicolas Church
  • Madrid Royal Palace
  • La Granja Palace
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