Venice is famous for many things, particularly its canals and architecture. Venetian Gothic style is emblematic of the city and gives Venice its unique appearance. The architectural style originated in the 14th century and is a combination of Byzantine and Moorish influences incorporating the Gothic lancet arch.
Around 1300, and perhaps even earlier, the city’s first buildings were constructed in Byzantine architectural style. Buildings in the Eastern Roman Empire tended to be built with Byzantine architecture, which was influenced by Greek, Sasanian, and Islamic architecture. Buildings in this style are characterized by geometric complexity, stone and brick construction, and Gothic lancet arches.
The architectural tradition that appeared after the Arab Islamic conquest in the Maghreb region is called Moorish architecture. Some Moorish elements from Al-Andalus incorporated into Venetian Gothic architectural style include horseshoe and crenelated arches, muqarnas, voussoirs, courtyards, decorative tiles, and domes.
Byzantine classical and Moorish styles are completely contradictory forms that nonetheless work well in conjunction to create the opulent and eye-catching Venetian Gothic style that is emblematic of Venice.
The building of the new churches in Venice was funded by the upper class during a time of great wealth for the city that coincided with the popularity of Gothic architecture and design. Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari and Santi Giovanni e Paolo are two churches that are similar to those in mainland Italy but constructed from different materials. These churches demonstrate a new trend that was emerging in architectural design.
Traceries, the ornate stone elements that structurally support stained glass windows, were modified to support the weight of buildings in Venetian Gothic architecture. Because of the canals running through the city and the soft ground in Venice, the weight of buildings had to be restricted and carefully supported. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Venetian Gothic style lengthened the proportions of typical central halls, or portego, in secular buildings. The Doge’s Palace, a luxuriously decorated and iconic Venetian building, was rebuilt in its present style during the Gothic period of the 14th century.
In the 19th century, Gothic style was revived, mostly because of British architectural critic John Ruskin. The style was also popularized by architects in North America and Australia. Without a doubt, Venetian Gothic remains one of the most famous and remarkable styles in the history of architecture.