Andrea Palladio. Interior of Teatro Olimpico, 1580
Architecture Artist

Andrea Palladio

Andrea Palladio. Tombstone at the grave of Andrea Palladio, 1845
Tombstone at the grave of Andrea Palladio, 1845

Andrea Palladio – the consummate genius of Italian architecture

Andrea Palladio (November 30, 1508 – August 19, 1580). The great architect and theorist of architecture of the XVI century, a genius master of the Late Renaissance era. Palladio is rightfully considered the founder of the classical style in European architecture; the famous style trend – Palladianism – is named after him. The master’s biography is closely connected with the small town of Vicenza in northern Italy. His work had a huge impact on the development of architecture in Europe and the USA.

Andrea Palladio left an impressive legacy to descendants, which includes many magnificent palaces, temples, country houses and villas. He is also the author of the fundamental work “Four Books on Architecture”.

Andrea Palladio. Villa Barbaro, 1557
Andrea Palladio. Villa Barbaro, 1557


In 1524, the young man moved with his family to neighboring Vicenza, where he was accepted into the local stonemason’s guild. Here Andrea managed to get a job in the workshop of the sculptor Girolamo Pittoni and the architect Giovanni da Porlezza. Over the next 10 years, the young architect worked as an apprentice, helping teachers create monuments, sculptures and all kinds of architectural decor.

In 1534, Andrea married a girl from a simple family named Allegradonna. This marriage was the only one in the life of the master, five children were born in it – four boys and a girl. His sons, Mark Antonio and Silla, subsequently also chose careers as architects. But did not enjoy much success in this field.

Andrea Palladio. Cathedral of San Giorgio Maggiore, 1566
Andrea Palladio. Cathedral of San Giorgio Maggiore, 1566

Between 1535-1538 in the life of Andrea, an event happened that became fateful for him. He met the outstanding humanist poet Gian Giorgio Trissino (Giangiorgio Trissino dal Vello d’Oro), who for many years became the patron of the artist. It was Trissino who advised him to change his name to Palladio in honor of the famous Greek goddess Pallas Athena and instilled in him a love of ancient art.

The body of the architect was interred with great honors in Vicenza, in the Church of Santa Corona. And more than 260 years later, grateful residents of the city erected a beautiful funerary monument on the grave of their fellow countryman, designed by the architect Bartolomeo Malacarne and the sculptor Giuseppe De Fabris.

Andrea Palladio. Palazzo del Capitanato, 1565
Andrea Palladio. Palazzo del Capitanato, 1565

The most famous works of Andrea Palladio

And yet, the most famous works of Andrea Palladio include: Palladio’s Basilica (1546) – the building of the city hall in Vicenza, rebuilt according to the project of the master in the classical style. The large-scale construction was completed only in 1614. Almost 25 years after the death of the architect.

Villa Rotonda (1565) is the most famous of the series of country villas designed by the architect. Perched on a hilltop with four magnificent facades. The building is an unrivaled example of the Palladian style.

Cathedral of San Giorgio Maggiore (1566) – the majestic temple of Venice, located on the island of the same name. The classical facade of the church today attracts the eyes of numerous tourists from afar. Teatro Olimpico (1580) is the oldest indoor theater in European history. One of the last projects of the master, which was brought to life by his son Silla.

Andrea Palladio left a bright mark on the history of world architecture. And his creations are still unsurpassed masterpieces of Italian architecture.

Andrea Palladio. Villa Rotonda, 1565
Andrea Palladio. Villa Rotonda, 1565

With the assistance of his patron, Andrea began to actively study the work of the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. And also got acquainted with the work of Leon Battista Alberti and Giulio Romano. For several years, together with Trissino, he traveled to Venice, Rome, Verona. And a number of other Italian cities to see firsthand the famous masterpieces of architecture.

Andrea Palladio’s first independent steps as an architect date back to 1537, when the construction of the Villa Godi began in the vicinity of Vicenza. The rumor about the outstanding talent of the young architect quickly spread throughout the city. And in a few years he received about ten such orders from the local nobility. According to legend, it was during the construction of one of the villas that Andrea met Trissino.

In 1545, the Vicenza authorities organized a competition for the best reconstruction of the town hall building. The winner was the project by Andrea Palladio, which still adorns the main square of the ancient Italian city. The architect called his creation a basilica, emphasizing loyalty to the ideas of ancient architecture. From that moment on, the architect acquired the fame of a great genius and became the most demanded master in his field.

Andrea Palladio. Villa Foscari, 1558

Over the next 25 years, Andrea Palladio created designs for several dozen beautiful buildings in the early classicism style. Due to the enormous employment, the master could not implement many of them on his own, entrusting the construction to other architects. At the same time, he seriously took up the theory of architecture. And worked for many years on the large-scale treatise “Four Books on Architecture”, which was first published in 1570. Subsequently, this work was translated into all European languages and published. through many reprints.

In the same 1570, Andrea Palladio was appointed chief architect of the Venetian Republic and left Vicenza. His main responsibility in the new place was the decoration of a number of churches. And cathedrals, with which the master coped brilliantly. Most of the masterpieces were made without his direct participation in the late 16th – early 17th centuries.

Despite his great fame, by the end of his life the great architect never became a rich man. He devoted all his strength to his favorite work, and money for the master was secondary. The architect’s life ended in August 1580. Most historians believe that Andrea Palladio died on August 19. However, reliable information about this event, as well as the cause of death, has not been preserved.

Villa Cornaro, 1553
Basilica Palladiana (Vicenza) – facade on Piazza dei signori
Palazzo Thiene, 1542
Andrea Palladio. Interior of Teatro Olimpico, 1580
Andrea Palladio. Interior of Teatro Olimpico, 1580
Palazzo Chiericati, 1550