In case you've ever been to Rome, the expression"Rome was not built in a day" takes on a completely different meaning. One look at the structure across the city, during all Italy, and you may see why it's had a lasting influence upon design worldwide.
Even centuries ago, the Romans were definitely ahead of the time. While the Romans did borrow some of their earliest ideas by the Ancient Greeks, Etruscans, Egyptians, and Persians, there is little doubt that the ancient Roman architects created the shape of architecture that we know now. They gave us incredible buildings, structures, bridges, aqueducts (channels built to transport water over great distances) and complex road systems.
Some of the very classic design elements: columns, domes, and arches came from Italian designs and are now integral parts of a few of the most important buildings throughout the world. It was probably the use of those components, together with the Romans' sound knowledge of construction materials, that enabled them to have such unprecedented successes in the construction of public structures. It is hard to believe that thousands of years back, Romans managed to build things such as the aqueducts of Rome, the famous Roman Baths, and of course, the Roman Colosseum! And nobody can think of the Roman structure without commenting in their beautifully constructed, world-famous basilicas, cathedrals, and churches.
And the world took notice. For the majority of us, the most famous arch is most likely The Arc de Triomphe in Paris. However, this is a famous example of a French architect borrowing from proven Roman formulas. During the Roman era, many arches were built, largely for inscribing substantial happenings -- a tradition that continues around the world for this day.
Roman columns turn up nearly everywhere, certainly facing several important buildings including Kingston's own City Hall, also of course, that the White House in Washington, to name but two.
As expansive as the buildings across Italy are when seen as a whole, an individual can't help but notice the facts in their structure. Besides the famous columns, arches and domes, there are two other elements that are uniquely Italian within their design and structure. The windows and doors! Even death rows of a home on a very simple street, you can not help but stop and stare at the windows and entranceways.
You can tell a lot about the history of an Italian construction by looking at its windows and doors. Maybe this is the truest in Venice. Venetian facades with their splendid doors and windows, which you see from the idyllic canals are a snapshot of background. Venice isn't just a town on the ocean, but a unique outdoor museum. Each palace you view can be identified and readily categorized by era, by simply observing the fashions of the windows and doors. It was the age of Gothic art as well as the contours of the arches and windows became fashionable.
Windows encased by discharging arches and entranceways with personal bridges were a part of the Renaissance structure, which emerged at the mid-15th century. In the 16th century, the facades became heavier with large rectangular windows with hood moldings and thick, protruding balconies. The High Renaissance period followed with triumphal arches, dual columns and new window mixes, including floor to ceiling Palladian windows, and low rectangular windows on both sides, augmented by fanlights. Window layout and position told of that which rooms lay behind them. There was a clear definition between arched and single windows. The Palazzo Grimani is a superb example of this sort of construction from this era.
I studied at the California Institute of the Arts. Nowadays I write essays about Renaissance for artscolumbia.org.