Basilica Palladiana is a palace in Vicenza, overlooking Piazza dei Signori, inextricably linked to the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. The architect redesigned the Gothic Palazzo della Ragione by adding the loggias with the famous white marble serliane.
A serliana, also known as a Palladian window, is an architectural motif popularized by Andrea Palladio, which consists of a window with three openings, the central one arched and wider than the lateral rectangular ones.
Once the seat of the public magistrates of Vicenza, the Palladian Basilica is today equipped with three independent spaces, used to host architecture and art exhibitions. The building was included in 1994 in the UNESCO World Heritage Site City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.
Palazzo della Ragione was built around the middle of the 15th century according to a project by Domenico da Venezia, incorporating two pre-existing public buildings. The Gothic facade of the palace was made of diamond-shaped red and yellow Verona marble, still visible behind the loggias.
The building was the seat of the public magistrates of Vicenza and, on the ground floor, it housed a shop gallery. Adjacent to the building is the Bissara Tower, 82 meters in height, built starting with 1174.
Between 1481 and 1494, the architect Tommaso Formenton surrounded the ancient palace with a double order of loggias. Two years after the end of the construction site, the southwest corner collapsed, and for over 40 years the building remained untouched.
In 1546, the city council became interested by the project of a young local architect, Andrea Palladio. After another three years of discussions, Palladio’s project was definitively approved in May 1549.
The construction developed slowly. The first order of the northern and western facades was completed in 1561, the second level, started in 1564, was completed in 1597, 17 years after Palladio’s death, and the facade on Piazza delle Erbe in 1614.
During the Second World War, on March 18, 1945, the Basilica was badly damaged during a bombing, together with the Bissara Tower. An incendiary bomb destroyed the original roof of the Basilica, which was rebuilt immediately after the war in its original form.
Since the beginning of 2007, important restoration works were carried out on the monument. The roof was repaired and the facades were cleaned and consolidated. The restoration works were officially completed on October 6, 2012, coinciding with the reopening of the Basilica. Following the restoration, the upper terrace was again accessible, and was definitively opened to the public in 2014.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The loggias on the ground floor are built in Doric order, while the loggias of the upper floor are in Ionic order, with a continuous frieze entablature. Each bay of the loggias is composed of an arch flanked by lintels supported by columns.
The roof, resembling an overturned ship’s hull, covered with copper plates, partly raised by large archivolts, was inspired by the one built in 1306 for the Palazzo della Ragione of Padua. The balustraded parapet on top of the Basilica is decorated with statues by Giovanni Battista Albanese, Grazioli and Lorenzo Rubini.
The upper floor of the Basilica is entirely occupied by a huge hall without intermediate supports, known as the Hall of the Council of the Four Hundred, built in the 15th century.
HOW TO GET THERE
Basilica Palladiana is located about 800 meters away from the Vicenza railway station. The closest bus stop is in Piazzetta Largo Neri Pozza, about 80 meters away, on the bus Line 10.