Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

As the principal space of the second city of the papal states, Piazza Maggiore in Bologna was the subject of the political expressions of various popes. It reached its approximate current state in the 1560s after a series of extensive urban renovations. These included the clearing of the area to the north of the piazza to produce Piazza Nettuno, with its elaborate new fountain by Giambologna, and the refacing of the Portico dei Banchi by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola (1507-73) which housed the moneylenders, on the eastern boundary of the square to create an enhanced urban edge to the city, opposite the centre of papal government in the Palazzo Comunale.
Vignola’s facade consists of fifteen bays of a monumental composite order, with an attic storey above. The continuity of the regular bay structure is interrupted in the sixth and twelfth bays by higher arched portals marking the issuing of existing streets, Via Pescherie Vecchie and Via Clavature, into the Piazza, dividing the facade into a series of respectively five, five and three bays each. As has been observed by Richard Tuttle, Vignola’s ‘triumphal iconography’ for the Facciata dei Banchi translated ‘the temporary triumphal arches all’antica that were regularly erected in wood, canvas and stucco to honor visits by important state and church dignitaries’ into ‘a permanent piece of celebratory display’. ‘Virtually all triumphal entries into Bologna culminated in the Piazza Maggiore, where the most elaborate of such ephemeral decorations were deployed, many at the mouth of the Via Clavature’. Vignola’s facade subtly unites the adjacent monumental structures, its scale and rhythm reinterpreting the earlier medieval portico, but it is the delicacy and relaxed quality of the alignments in plan and section which integrate its exquisitely proportioned surface into the urban ensemble.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails