Thursday, January 19, 2012


Origins: Spain has traditionally imported its styles of architecture - Moorish from North Africa, Romanesque and Gothic from France and Renaissance from Italy. Each style, however, was interpreted in a distinctively Spanish way, with sudden and strong contrasts between light and shaded areas, facades alternating between austerity and extravagant decoration and thick walls pierced by few windows to lessen the impact of heat and sunlight. Styles vary from region to region, reflecting the division of Spain before unifacation. The key design of a central patio surrounded by arcades has been a strong feature of civil buildings since Moorish times. Apart from Phoenician tombs (as at Almunecar) and megalithic dolmens (as at Antequera), the only significant pre-Muslim structures are Roman (notably at Italica near Seville with the largest of all ampitheatres, a bathhouse and a theatre). The Romans bequeathed to Andalucia the happy invention of the interior patio in houses and other buildings. An idea later taken up by the Muslims. The Visigoths left little lasting imprint and most of their churches have been built over.

Romanesque (8th to 13th Centuries): Romanesque churches were mainly built in Catalonia and along the pilgrim route to Santiago. Their distinctive features include round arches, massive walls and few windows. By the time the Reconqista reached Andalucia in the 13th century, the first major architectural style of Christian Spain, Romanesque, was just on its way out. One of the few Romanesque buildings in Andalucia is the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz in Baeza, the first significant Andalucian town to fall to the Christians. The church's round arches and semicircular apse make it quite distinct from the later Gothic buildings.
Moorish Architecture (8th to 15th Centuries): The Moors reserved the most lavish decoration for the interior of buildings, where ornate designs based on geometry, calligraphy and plant motifs were created in tiles or stucco. They made extensive use of the horseshoe arch, a feature inherited from the Visigoths. The greatest surviving works of Moorish architecture in Spain are in Andaluca. 

Spain / Andalusia / Granada / Albaicin, photo by troymguillory

Baroque altarpiece / Retablo barroco, photo by allisonfender

Santuario de Loyola, photo by allisonfender

baroque forms, by Andrea Kirkby

Santuario de Loyola, by allisonfender

Baroque altarpiece / Retablo barroco, by . SantiMB .

more about architectural styles:

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