1600 -1750

Baroque architecture, originating in 17th century Italy, is an extravagant and ornate style known for its grandeur and theatricality.

This style held great significance in both religious and secular contexts. In the Catholic Church, it was a potent tool during the Counter-Reformation, allowing for the creation of awe-inspiring spaces that reaffirmed the Church's authority. Secular rulers also utilized Baroque architecture to showcase their power and prestige by constructing opulent palaces and public buildings.
Important Features
Dramatic Use of Light and Shadow
The dramatic use of light and shadow, known as chiaroscuro, was a masterful manipulation of space and illumination. Architects of this period sought to create spaces of immersive experience for visitors, allowing them to perceive the architecture dynamically and engagingly.

Architects deliberately place windows and openings to allow specific amounts of natural light to enter a space. Architectural elements like niches, columns, and sculptural reliefs were utilized to cast dynamic shadows, creating a dynamic interplay between light and dark.

Architects also used reflective materials, such as polished marble or gilded surfaces. These materials enhanced the dispersion and reflection of light, intensifying the chiaroscuro effect. In interiors, elaborate frescoes and stucco work were often employed as well.
Elaborate Ornamentation
Elaborate ornamentation creates an environment of grandeur, richness, and theatricality, making Baroque structures some of the most visually captivating.

Prominent ornamentation includes sculptural reliefs - 3D carvings depicting subjects from mythological figures to religious scenes, stucco works - intricate patterns and designs made of plaster, lime, and marble dust, gilding - application of gold leaf or gold paint to highlight details and accentuate the luxuriousness, frescoes - large-scale paintings, executed directly onto wet plaster depicting elaborate scenes, often of religious or symbolic significance, decorative moldings - architectural elements like pilasters, cornices, and balustrades.
Curved and Dynamic Forms
Curved and dynamic forms distinguished Baroque architecture from the more linear and utilitarian styles that preceded it. Architects embraced curvaceous lines and asymmetrical shapes rather than adhering to strict geometric patterns, creating a dynamic visual effect and drawing the eye along the structure's contours.

Oval-shaped rooms and spaces are commonly used to introduce a sense of fluidity and dynamism. Sweeping staircases, often featuring elaborate balustrades and sculpted details, are a common feature that served as a focal point, emphasizing the vertical movement within a space.
Emphasis on Grandeur
The emphasis on grandeur and size reflects the period's penchant for opulence, power, and magnificence. Architects create the structure to awe and overwhelm viewers, allowing them to serve as physical embodiments of the ideals and aspirations of the institutions or individuals they represent.

Some expressions of this emphasis include the scale - structures are often impressively large, with soaring heights, vast expanses, and imposing facades; tall columns - often Corinthian or Composite order, served both functional and ornamental purposes; grand domes - often intricately decorated, symbolizing transcendence and divine presence; elaborate entrances and monumental staircases - provide a sense arrival, setting the stage for the grandeur within.
Emotion and Movement
Emotion and movement are fundamental elements that seek to evoke powerful feelings and engage the viewer in a dynamic experience.

Emotion, from awe and wonder to contemplation and spiritual devotion, is conveyed through the expressive use of architectural forms, such as dramatic lighting, the portrayal of dynamic figures in sculptural elements, and vivid frescoes depicting poignant scenes.

Movement is achieved through flowing lines, dynamic curves, and asymmetrical compositions. Baroque structures appear in flux as if frozen in a moment of action. Features like sweeping staircases and spiraling columns further emphasize this sense of movement.