|Greek cross; Latin cross; rotunda|
These terms usually refer to the shape of a church.
A Greek cross church has four arms having the same length.
A Latin cross church has the arm of the entrance longer than the other arms.
A rotunda church has a circular shape. The most famous rotunda is the Pantheon or S. Maria della Rotonda.
The image shows the plans of SS. Martina e Luca (Greek cross) and of S. Bernardo alle Terme (rotunda).
For an example of Latin cross plan see a page on the building process of S. Pietro.
|Greek key pattern|
It is one of the most ancient decorative motifs, with many symbolic meanings (the four cardinal points, the meander of life, the four seasons, etc.).
The image shows the ruins of St. Saviour Philantropus, a Byzantine church near the Maritime Walls of Constantinople. The decoration is a complex variation of the basic Greek key pattern.
grotto is a picturesque (often artificial) cave designed to provide shelter from the summer heat.
nymphaeum is a complex of grottoes, fountains and statues.
Both terms derive from the supposed meeting place of Roman King Numa Pompilius with the nymph Egeria (Ninfeo di Egeria). The villas on the sea of some Roman emperors (Nero, Tiberius, etc.) included caves embellished with statues. Later on most Renaissance and Baroque villas had a nymphaeum.
The image shows the Neptun-grotte designed by G. W. von Knobelsdorff in Park Sanssouci in Potsdam, Germany.
At the beginning a herm (after the Greek god Hermes) was just a signpost or a boundary marker at crossroads. It had a head or a bust placed on a shaft tapered towards its lower part. During the Renaissance it became a frequent decoration of villas (e.g. in Villa Borghese).
A female herm bearing a basket on her head is called canephora.
The image shows a detail of the House of Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp.
hippocamp is a mythological animal half triton half horse usually portrayed while drawing Oceanus' or Neptune's chariots (see it in a Roman mosaic in Tunisia and in Fontana di Trevi).
nereid is one of the fifty Nereids, attendants of the sea-goddess Thetys. They are often portrayed reclining on the backs of hippocampi.
The image shows a detail of Fontana delle Naiadi in Rome.
keystone is the larger and heavier stone at the centre of a Roman arch which by its weight ensures the solidity of the structure. It is often marked or decorated with reliefs.
The image shows a detail of Ponte di Nona, near Rome. You may wish to see a page on Roman Construction Techniques.
loggia is an open-sided part of a building. S. Giovanni in Laterano has a fine example of loggia from which the pope blessed the crowds and similarly S. Marco has a loggia for the papal blessings of Pope Paul II who lived in nearby Palazzo Venezia. Loggias can also be found in many Roman palaces.
portico is an open section of the ground floor of a church or a palace, designed as an introduction to the main part of the building. In early Christian churches it was called narthex and it was meant for those who could not access the church (penitents, cathecumens, etc.).
The image shows the portico and loggia of the canonry of Madonna di S. Biagio in Montepulciano.
lunette is the half moon shaped section of a building between a lintel and an arch above it.
Many Renaissance churches in Central Italy have lunettes decorated with terracottas by a member of the Florentine Della Robbia family.
The image shows the lunette above the portal of Collegiata di S. Cristina in Bolsena.
a parapet is a low wall at edge of balcony, roof or along sides of bridge. It can be replaced by a balustrade.
The image shows the parapet designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Ponte S. Angelo in Rome.
|quadratura; sotto in su|
Both terms refer to the decoration of Renaissance and chiefly Baroque ceilings.
quadratura is the framing of the ceiling by painting illusory architectures.
sotto in su (from below upwards) or scorcio is an elaborated painting technique based on perspective laws applied to a surface which is oblique to the viewer's position.
The image shows a detail of the ceiling of S. Ignazio in Rome.
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