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Echoes of the East: the meeting between Andrea Palladio and Mimar Sinan

Aktualisiert: 16. Okt. 2023

What a thrill to be the spokesperson for Palladian beauty in the world!

And have confirmation that architecture, like a noble art, can speak multiple languages ​​and take different forms, while maintaining a universal value.

It so happens that while talking with one of our lovely clients, we went to retrace the exploits of Palladio none other than in the Land of the East.

To do this, however, it is necessary to recall one of the best-known Palladian works in Venice: The Redeemer. An imposing church, which overlooks the Giudecca, and which rises towards the sky with an elongated dome with a Byzantine flavor and with two cylindrical bell towers, with conical roofs, which a careful eye can only trace to two minarets.

Two minarets which - here is their further peculiarity - must have been seen from the adjacent Mocenigo palace, residence of the Ottoman delegates in the lagoon city.

The Venetian-Ottoman contacts were not only war-related. During the long periods of peace, intense cultural and commercial exchanges developed, skillfully mediated by the incessant work of the "baili".

The Bailo, from the Latin "bailus", or the ruler, was a meticulously chosen exponent among the Venetian nobility, educated to take on public offices, among which the most prestigious one was precisely the figure of the Bailo in Constantinople.

Among all, the figure of Marcantonio Barbaro stands out: the Venetian nobleman, friend and client of Andrea Palladio, was ambassador to Istanbul from 1568 to 1574.

The chronicles of the time say that it was not unusual to meet him on the construction sites of Constantinople, in particular those of the mosques under construction.

It is certainly in this context that Marcantonio Barbaro met Mimar Sinan, the great Turkish designer who created almost five hundred buildings, including large mosques, palaces, baths and bridges.

Palladio and Sinan never met in person, but thanks to the virtual bridge offered to them by Marcantonio a dialogue began that will give rise to effective architectural contaminations on both sides.

Shortly after the release of Palladio's Four Books (1570), some mosques began to display elements similar to villa facades published in the treatise, culminating in the imperial mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent in Istanbul, known as Suleymaniye, considered the masterpiece absolute of Sinan's work.

At the same time, the project for the Church of the Redeemer began to show off two curious twin bell towers, similar to minarets.

"The high dome and bell towers aimed to reaffirm Venice's prestige in the eyes of the Ottomans, at a time when the state's image had been damaged by the plague of 1575-76, and then by the 1577 fire of the Doge's Palace. .." writes Howard Burns in his studies.

Once again beauty as a universally known and recognized business card, destined to tell of itself imperishable over the centuries.

We conclude this evocative journey between East and West by quoting Gianpaolo Scarante, modern "bailo" of our times and former ambassador to Ankara: "The city that most reminds me of Venice is Istanbul, its sister city. Water surrounds it on three sides, the Bosphorus , the Sea of ​​Marmara and the Golden Horn and this means that the narrow and long streets of ancient Pera, today Beyoğlu, where the bailiffs walked, always end towards the water, as if on the lagoon".

And on these words, imagining sunsets reflected on the water, rich in golden reflections and bright reds, we continue to dream, even we humble "baili" in the presence of His Majesty Palladio!

If you want to know more about Il Redentore and the Palladian Basilicas in Venice

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