The Renaissance was a time of "rebirth" and changing thought. Scientists were uncovering new information about mathematics, physics and astronomy. The human body was being studied with great precision. Knowledge began to undermine the position of the Church, as the underlying concept of the Renaissance was "humanism"--a recognition of the basic value of human beings as individuals, not simply as souls on their way to eternity. Some, like the philosopher Giordano Bruno, were put to death for accepting the conclusions of science when they conflicted with the views of the church. But the power of information and knowledge could not be reversed, and the ideas of the Renaissance spread throughout Italy and Europe
Most major cities have Renaissance architecture. The duomos (cathedrals) of Italy were generally built or remodeled during the Renaissance. As finances accumulated in the trading centers of Italy, the wealthy built impressive homes and palaces; many have been preserved and often are used as museums now. To find out more about the duomos and palaces of the major cities, return to the main map.
Italy, during the Renaissance, was not one country but many small city-states. Different families struggled to increase their power while the popes and emperors stuggled over ultimate power. In Florence, the Medici family funded many buildings and art projects that survive today. In 1434, Cosimo de'Medici took control of Tuscany. Within 100 years, the Medicis patronized such artists Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Donatello and Brunelleschi, and used their influence to have two Medicis elected popes. Their influence lingers in Florence, where you can tour many of the legacies of this powerful family. The Uffizi is the collection of art treasures amassed by the family while the Cappelle Medicee is the final resting place of many of the most powerful of this clan, including a tomb for a favored grandson that was created by Michelangelo.
Milan's best example of Renaissance architecture is the Castello Sforzesco, built by the leader who seized power during the Renaissance. One of its courtyards was designed by Bramante, the architect who developed many of the building techniques of the era and later designed the basic layout of St.Peter's in Rome. He also designed the convent, Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the Leonardo Da Vinci painted the famous Last Supper. Venice had been a power before the Renaissance and used its vast resources to finance great art and architecture The Santa Maria dei Miracoli is one of Venice's treasures from the period, as is the ornate Rialto Bridge. During this time, many buildings in Venice were remodeled or built. The quality of the materials used as well as the art that adorns the construction, reflect how prosperous this region was at the time.
St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and houses many of the most famous pieces of art from that period. Built on the site where the apostle, Peter, was crucified, the great basilica was started by Bramante in 1506, Michelangelo was appointed the chief architect in 1547 but it is his work inside the Sistine Chapel that is the most dramatic. Michelangelo also worked on the tomb of Pope Julius II, located in the Church of the Chains of St. Peter. Other outstanding Renaissance art and architecture can be seen at such sights as the Castel Sant'Angelo which is adorned by 10 statues of angels created by Bernini.
The 15th century church Monteoliveto in Naples houses a great collection of Renaissance art and the church of Sant'Angelo a Nilo has a tomb that Donatello did work on. But generally, the Renaissance art produced in Naples was by lesser known artists of the period.
Like Naples, because of its distance from Florence, Palermo has Renaissance buidings and art but the work was done by artists that few in the modern world have heard of.
Turin, too, has fewer remnants from that time. Through most of the Renaissance, the leaders of the Savoy-Piedmont region were ineffective and caught in the conflict between France and Spain. From such a position, it was not possible to finance the grand palaces and cathedrals that were being built in other regions. Emmanuel Philibert restored the Savoys to control of the area in 1559, and he made Turin the capital in 1574. The Duomo is othe only example of Renaissance architecture in Turin, but the Savoys built a large collection of Renaissance art that can be seen at the Galleria Sabauda. The collection includes the famous work by Boticelli, Birth of Venus.
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