14-17th Century

Renaissance architecture emerged in Italy, spread across Europe, and became the dominant architectural style until the Baroque period. It can be divided into the Early and High Renaissance periods.

Renaissance architecture marked a cultural rebirth with profound significance. It celebrated humanism, emphasizing proportion, symmetry, and the human form in design—the revival of classical Roman and Greek elements elevated aesthetics and engineering. Innovations like perspective and geometric precision revolutionized spatial design. This era produced iconic structures showcasing artistic and engineering excellence. Renaissance architecture's influence spread globally, shaping future styles, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Modern architecture, and establishing enduring principles in architectural practice, emphasizing the harmonious integration of art, science, and human experience.
Important Features
Symmetry and Proportion
Renaissance architects believed that a building should be harmonious and balanced. They drew inspiration from the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome.

In Renaissance architecture, symmetry is achieved through the use of axial symmetry. This creates a sense of balance that is pleasing to the eye. The façade of the building is often symmetrical, with identical or similar elements on either side of a central axis. The proportions of a building are based on mathematical formulas such as the principles of the Golden Ratio. Renaissance architects used the Golden Ratio to determine the size and placement of the building's elements, such as windows, doors, and columns.
Classical Motifs
Renaissance architecture uses classical motifs, elements, and designs inspired by ancient Greek and Roman architecture. These motifs create a sense of grandeur, harmony, and elegance in Renaissance buildings. Some of the most common classical motifs used include columns, pediments, arches, sculptures, and friezes. Columns were often fluted with a capital, and pediments were often adorned with sculpture or relief carvings. Arches were used to add visual interest, while sculptures celebrated the human form. Friezes were decorative bands that added ornamentation and detail to buildings.
Ornamentation was used to add a sense of wealth, power, and sophistication to buildings. Relief sculpture was one of the most common forms of ornamentation in Renaissance architecture. This technique involved carving designs or figures into a flat surface, creating a sense of depth and dimension. They often depict mythological or historical scenes, adding drama and narrative to the building. Other common forms of ornamentation included elaborate moldings and, friezes, decorative bands that ran along the top of the building's façade.
Humanism emphasizes the importance of human potential, individualism, and rationalism. Renaissance architects believed that buildings should be designed with the needs of people in mind. They focused on creating comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing spaces, and they paid close attention to the proportions, lighting, and ventilation of their designs.

The use of classical motifs in Renaissance architecture reflects humanism as well. The architects drew inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome as they believed that the classical style reflected the ideals of humanism. Cherubs, human figures, and mythological scenes were incorporated into the buildings to create a sense of human grandeur.
Use of Perspective
Renaissance architects used perspective to create the illusion of depth and space. This technique created a sense of realism and made the buildings appear larger and more impressive. The perspective also allowed the architects to play with the viewer's perception of space and distance, creating a sense of dynamism and movement within the building. They looked to the techniques of Renaissance painters to achieve this goal.

One of the most important techniques used by Renaissance architects was linear perspective. Drawing parallel lines converging at a vanishing point creates the illusion of three-dimensional space in their designs. Another technique to make a sense of depth and dimension in their designs is with light and shadow. They carefully positioned windows and other architectural elements to maximize the effect of light.