Year of Palladio

Civic Architecture : Sacred Building

Monastery of Santa Maria della Carita (Accademia di Belle Arti)

In 1561, commissioners paid Palladio for his model of the Monastery of Santa Maria della Carita. The design for the building was a grandiose one, inspired by Palladio’s studies of ancient Roman houses, which the architect believed “could only actually be reconstructed in terms of a large organized complex (like a monastic residence…or in a private dwelling like the Palazzo Porto at Vicenza.” Of the buildings original elements, the oval stair, the sacristy and the great cloister still survive today. (Beltramini, p. 226) At the Carita monestary, “Palladio followed the formula of superimposing the three orders — Ionic on Doric and Corinthian on Ionic. What creates the effect of course is the distribution of such elements as columns, pilasters, arches and balustrades…” An additionally striking element is “the oval staircase of the Carita [that] took Goethe’s fancy on his Italian journey in 1786…‘The most beautiful staircase in the world,’ wrote the German poet.” (Reed p. 67)

Additional Sacred Buildings