The impression of solidity is inescapable. Straight vertical and horizontal lines predominate; square and rectangular windows are larger and more prominent than the small circular ones. The double arcaded courtyard is simple to the point of austere.
Its columns —Doric on the lower level, Ionic on the upper— are solidly grounded and powerful. There is no colour to speak of; it is a formal space, somewhat forbidding, even under the Andalusian sun. Nowadays, the palace is the home to two museums. Renaissance Architecture in 16 th Century Spain. Renaissance architecture originated in Italy in the early 15 th century, and was part of a much wider cultural phenomenon whereby secular humanism challenged the Medieval world view long dominated by the Catholic Church.
The rediscovery of classical, pagan culture —Greek and especially Roman— opened up new vistas largely buried during the Middle Ages. In architecture, impetus was provided by the rediscovery in of De Architectura by the Roman architect and engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio c.
At the same time, the revival of the classical architecture of antiquity was facilitated by the fact that its remains were to be found everywhere in Italy and could be studied at first hand. The result was the application of the general principles of classical architecture adapted to the conditions of 15 th -century Italy. These principles were adjusted in turn to local situations as Italian influence spread throughout the rest of Europe.
In Spain, for example, the popularity of plateresque surface ornamentation of Moorish inspiration and admiration for late Gothic flamboyance often resulted in buildings that were structurally Renaissance but adorned by a combination of plateresque and Gothic-inspired decoration. Gothic and Renaissance Architecture.
With almost all surfaces covered by some kind of intricate decoration, the impression is that of vibrancy or animation. The contrast between the two styles of architecture was immediate.
Renaissance architecture, inspired by classical Roman and Greek architecture, emphasized elegance, proportion , symmetry , order , just about everything Gothic was not at this time. Gothic, then, became a derogatory term for bad taste and decadence when compared to the refinement of classical architecture. Arches were semicircular , and extensive use was made of classical columns e.
Sculptured figures were set in niches or placed on plinths. Predictably, they appeared mostly above the main entrance, where they could hardly be missed.
They also frequently straddled the corners of facades and adjoining side walls, where they could be viewed from more than one angle. Renaissance Architecture in Spain.
Renaissance architecture entered Spain towards the end of the 15 th century and coexisted with Gothic in Spain for a while. However, as the 16 th century advanced, the Renaissance style became more dominant especially in the larger towns and cities. In some instances, a change of taste might result in a building, initially designed or even starting as Gothic, to be later modified with Renaissance forms. The Palacio was built from approximately to for a member of the powerful Mendoza family.
Notable is the Gothic doorway with plateresque ornamentation. Prominent above it is the Mendoza coat of arms. Still, the most impressive feature is the beautiful gallery of paired ogee Gothic windows interspersed with matching oriels oriel: a kind of bay window running along the top of the building. At the same time, Gothic windows were replaced by rectangular Renaissance windows, each with a triangular pediment above it.
These design changes not only reflected a change in taste but possibly the desire to imitate a royal palace being built outside Madrid for Philip II.
The first Renaissance buildings to appear in Spain are generally considered to be the Colegio de Sta Cruz in Valladolid and the Palacio de los Duques de Medinaceli c. However, b oth the Mendozas and the Medinacelis in fact linked through marriage , were highly cultured and counted ambassadors, cardinals, poets in their families who were acquainted with Italy and the latest trends emanating from that country.
Both buildings hint at enduring Gothic and plateresque influence. Both have delicately worked balustrades and pinnacles that run along the top of the building, and the Palace has beautifully decorated windows on the upper level. In both instances, the attention given to the windows on the upper floor indicate the location of the grandest rooms. Importantly, for both families, these early Renaissance works were indicators not only of their wealth, influence and power, but also established them as trail blazers of Renaissance artistic taste and the prestige that went with Italian cultural achievements.
The role played by the Mendoza and Medinaceli families in introducing Renaissance architecture into Spain is indicative of the influence of the nobility in directing the taste of the country at the time. While the Church had been at the forefront in expanding Romanesque and Gothic architecture, Renaissance building was spearheaded by nobility, royalty and the new wealthy in Spain.
To the west and within view of Ubeda, Baeza underwent a similar transformation at the same time and boasts a wealth of classical palaces. The new wealthy were self-made men including those who had made their money in the newly conquered Americas or Las Indias and who, on returning, displayed their wealth commissioning large, imposing palaces in e. The new architecture and its associated prestige also spread to public buildings , many sponsored by religious figures or nobles. Among these were hospitals e.
Seville , Baeza, Where we find most Renaissance churches is in Andalusia, and there is a historic reason for this: the presence of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada , the last enclave of the once powerful Muslim al-Andalus. Granada remained a political factor in Spain controlling the area that made up most of modern Andalusia from the mid 13 th century until its fall to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella the famous Catholic Monarchs in Clearly, it was impossible to build churches in an area controlled by Islam, especially since Granada felt threatened by the close presence of its expansionist Christian neighbours.
Predictably, once the conquest was over, the Christians set about stamping their presence by constructing what most distinguished them from the Muslims: their churches although they also modified mosques. Elsewhere in Spain, there already existed a wealth of churches, especially Romanesque and Gothic, and where Renaissance churches did spring up, it was usually due to changing circumstances, e. Despite the numerous secular classical palaces etc. Both were initiated by monarchs, the first the royal palace of Charles V embedded in the Alhambra, Granada and begun in , the second El Escoria l , a palace-monastery-mausoleum commissioned by Philip II in Spanish Golden Age Architecture.
Plateresque is a highly elaborate, decorative style present on numerous buildings in Spain from the end of the 15 th century to about the mid 16 th century. It was a time when the country was transforming from late Gothic architecture inspired by northern Europe to Renaissance architecture of Italian inspiration.
It also made its mark in other fields: literature , art , theology etc,. Like painting during the same period , architecture in Spain was initially influenced by northern European —especially Flemish— architects and later by Italian builders, and for similar reasons.
There were long established commercial, cultural and religious contacts between Spain and the northern Europe and Italy that facilitated the transmission of ideas, and Flemish and Italian architects were at the cutting edge of their disciplines and enjoyed widespread prestige and fame. Italian influence is evident in the construction of new kinds of buildings inspired by the architecture of imperial Rome and brought to Spain by Spaniards who studied in Italy or through sketches and treatises introduced by travelers. Nevertheless, despite the prevalence of foreign architectural influence, many early Golden Age buildings also displayed a peculiarly Spanish decorative contribution: the use of surface ornamentation of Moorish or Mudejar inspiration Mudejars were Muslims who remained in Christian Spain, notably from the 13 th to 15 th centuries.
This distinctive contribution has given rise to two descriptive terms whose definitions are not always agreed upon by experts: 1. Muslim Spain ; 2. Isabelline , used to describe similar ornamentation on buildings initiated or modified during the reign of Queen Isabella of Castile who ruled from to The fusion of Spanish i. Although it is frequent to read of Isabelline and Plateresque architecture, strictly speaking neither term refers to structural originality in the way we can speak of Romanesque or Gothic or Renaissance. In other words, it is somewhat misleading to talk about Isabelline or Plateresque architecture.
Both Isabelline and Plateresque are rather Spanish decorative contributions extravagantly grafted to late or flamboyant Gothic and to early Renaissance buildings with no influence on their structure.
Plateresque ornamentation may be found within a building most often churches, including tombs, cloisters, and patios, e. Clearly, besides being ornamental, they are meant to impress, with the shields, busts and heraldic devices etc. In some instances, the amount and the intricacy of the ornamentation can be overwhelming. San Juan de los Reyes. The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo is often taken as a good example of plateresque ornamentation attached to a late Gothic church.
It was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs —Ferdinand and Isabella— to commemorate the defeat of the Portuguese at Toro in ,. It is topped by carved stone balustrades and numerous ornamental pinnacles, typical of flamboyant Gothic.
But there is little that can be classified as plateresque on the exterior. It is on the inside —light and spacious, with a single wide nave—, on the walls and the fluted half-round pillars that we find plateresque ornamentation wrapped around figures of saints or framing the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs. Note especially the intricate designs on the half-round pillars and the large capitals on the left and right of the picture above. The two-storeyed cloister, the upper level of which is reached by a plateresque stairway, has an intricate artesonado ceiling i.
Its ornamentation stands out against the plain towers that flank it. The pointed top called an ogee, and typical of flamboyant Gothic immediately above the doorway directs us to the sculpted coronation of the Virgin Mary. Three more small ogees point us to a remarkable rose window framed by lace-like tracery. Above that, there are three richly decorated levels each containing three panels filled with saints beneath embroidered canopies and surrounded by pitted stonework.
The ornamentation is astonishingly rich and intricate with the pointed top i. Easily visible are saints and knights, two mace bearers and some wild, hairy men, but almost lost beneath the escutcheon are numerous, tiny puttis from putto : a male child, frequently naked and chubby clinging playfully to vine-like branches looping down from the two boughs above.
The secular world was not indifferent to the impact that plateresque ornamentation had as an indicator of wealth, social taste and status. Although the studded diamond stonework forms a never-ending pattern along the front, the high point is literally the beautiful gallery of paired ogee pointed Gothic windows interspersed with matching loggias jutting windows that allow for seating running along the top of the building.
All this is encased in ornamental designs including small diamond shapes that complement the larger stonework below. At the same time, rectangular Renaissance windows, each with a triangular pediment above it, were installed replacing the Gothic windows that were originally there. These design changes reflected a change in taste and possibly desire to imitate a royal palace being built outside Madrid for Philip II. Topping the ornamentation are five plainly rounded loggia windows. Commissioned by Juan Alonso de Benavides, second cousin to Ferdinand the Catholic, it has been attributed to Juan Guas and Enrique Egas, a strong possibility given the similarity in the decorative elements, e.