Church of St. Charles


Church of St. Charles (Karlskirche Church) is located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna, which is one of the grandest churches of the Baroque period. It is designed by Johann Bernhard Fisher von Erlach in 1716 and completed in 1730. Fisher von Erlach started Austrian Baroque period and he is one of the most excellent Austrian architects. After his death in 1723, his son Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach completed the construction.

In 1713, the last great Black Death epidemic period, the Roman Emperor Karl Vl decided to build a church for St Charles Borromeo who was revered as a healer for plague sufferers. Therefore, a architecture competition of building church held the following year. Erlach and his son won the honor. A gorgeous and elegant Baroque masterwork was created.

In Erlach’s design, he referenced ancient Greek and Roman building styles, such as the dome from St. Peter’s and the portico from the Parthenon. “The central bulk is framed by two Trojan pillars, with spiral re-life’s, creating a dramatic entrance. The low wide front and huge dome also create vertical and horizontal movement (Daniel et al., 2008 p249). ” Inside the church, there are numerous elaborate carvings and altarpieces, including Gran and Altomonte’s works.

Baroque style uses to glorify the beauty of the building. It mixed a variety of artistic elements including sculpture, painting and music. However, some people think Baroque art form too extravagant and gaudy, which opposite to Christian simple and humble life attitude and the construction of the church. Erlach’s design of Baroque architecture is magnificent and dignified, which makes people believe the romantic curve and colorful decoration do not against doctrine and love God.



Daniel et al. (2008). Architecture A World History. New York: Abrams, Inc.


Würzburg Residence


Wurzburg residence is located on the Main River, which surrounded by mountains.  It is the greatest and most magnificent baroque palace in Germany.

Two prince-bishops Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Kari von Schonborn provided funds for Wurzburg residence. It was designed by Balthasar Neumann in 1718 and completed in 1744. Most of decorators came from Vienna, Italy, Holland and Belgium. Therefore, Wurzburg residence has golden sandstone wall, spacious stairs, luxury Roman style rooms and a beautiful garden that is a typical European architecture.

Wurzburg residence is based on a C-shape plan. The ceiling of magnificent staircase has the world’s largest fresco which was painted by Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo who used three years to complete. The main hall is decorated with marble sculptures. The central part of the side building has an oval shape hall. Those halls are typical baroque style. The palace has more than 340 halls and rooms, including white hall, imperial hall and court chapel. Wurzburg residence demonstrated the wealth of the Schonborn family.


In 1804, Napoleon invaded Bavaria and captured the Wurzburg. He impressed by the gorgeous palace and called “the nicest parsonage in Europe”.

During World War II, Wurzburg residence had been seriously damaged. Fortunately, some large furnishings and artworks had been removed in time.  The renovation of Wurzburg residence cost 20 million euros. It reopened to visitors until 1987.

Wurzburg residence is the masterwork of German Baroque architecture, which also represents the most luxurious and splendid period of the European court.




Church of the Gesu

The Church of the Gesu is the representative of the transition from Mannerism to the Baroque style that was designed by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta who are Italian famous architect and Architectural theorist in the late period of Renaissance. The Church of the Gesu is also known as the first truly Baroque architecture. (Mannerism is a kind of artistic styles in late 16th century Europe.)


“The church of the Holy Name of Jesus (II Gesu) was designed on the request of Pope Famese for the new order of the Jesuits. (Daniel et al., 2008 p228)”

Construction on the church began in 1568 and was completed in 1580 in Roma. The plane of the church is rectangular. At the end of the building structure, a holy shrine highlights the church, which evolved from Gothic churches’ Latin cross. The main nave is spacious and vault covered with sculptures and paintings. Two rows of small prayer rooms are instead of the two side aisles. The altar was decorated richly and the flowers above the altar used the classical French style as icons and decorative light.


Porta designed the façade and the first high altar. Unfortunately, the first high alter had been removed during the renovations in the 19th century. While Porta referenced architectural methods of Florence Santa Maria chapel that was designed by early Renaissance architect Alberti, he no longer emphasized the orderly arrangement. The façade is divided into two sections. The lower part is divided by six pairs of pilasters and the upper part is divided by four pairs of pilasters. Both sides of the upper sections have two large scrolls.

Those architectural design methods make the light and shadow more complex. The building becomes easy to distinguish. Those characteristics have been widely following lately.



Works Cited

Daniel et al. (2008). Architecture A World History. New York: Abrams, Inc.


The Palace of Versailles is located 20 kilometers far from Paris City. It is one of five greatest palaces in the world (Beijing Forbidden City, Versailles, Buckingham Palace, White House and Russia Kremlin). It is also the perfect combination of Classicism and Baroque architecture.

The palace of Versailles

Versailles is the symbol of the absolute monarchy, which was built by French Royalty. In 1623, Louis XIII bought Versailles’s original location and built a hunting lodge. At that time, Versailles only had 26 rooms. During the reign of Louis XIV, Versailles has been expanded. In 1682, Louis XIV decided to move the French court from Paris to Versailles. Versailles is the crystal of many French artists and architects’ design. It also has become the most magnificent palace around Europe. Louis XV and Louis XVI successively expanded and added new things. At last, Versailles had more than 700 rooms and covered approximately 51000 square meters.

Versailles was built by classical standard with a three-stage process. It means the building is divided into vertically and horizontally three sections. Versailles is a symmetrical building and the appearance is neatly, which is known as the representative of the rational beauty. However, the Baroque is the main style of interior decoration. Some halls also used Rococo style.

“The chateau itself is only part of the large landscape grounds, which include the Grand Trianon, the Paviion Francais, the Petit Trianon, and the Jardin du Petit Trianon. There are also five chapels in the complex (Daniel et al., 2008 p242).”

The Royal Chapel

If the appearance of Versailles makes you feel magnificent, then its interior decoration and furnishings create the feeling that is full of art atmosphere. The interior decoration is extremely luxurious which one of feature of Versailles is. More than five hundreds halls are shining everywhere. The inner walls are decorated with carving, huge oil painting and tapestries. Sun that is the symbol of Louis XIV is also a common theme in Versailles. There are lots of metal stair railings, and some metal parts even covered gold.


In 1789, when Louis XVI was held by people to go to Paris, it states the end of Versailles as a royal palace. Versailles as a court only kept 107 years.

Today, Versailles as a museum has 67staricases, 2300 rooms, 2153 windows and 5210 pieces of furniture.


Works Cited

Daniel et al. (2008). Architecture A World History. New York: Abrams, Inc.

French Rococo Architecture


Last time, I mentioned the development of Baroque Architecture in France. Today, I will talk about Rococo Architecture in France. It’s worth talking about. First of all, some historians incorporate Rococo period into the Baroque era. Rococo architecture follows the baroque architecture. Therefor, these two kinds of architectures have lots of similar feature. More to the point, Rococo is not a real architecture, and is more like a style of art for interior decoration.

A Rococo interior in Gatchina.

Rococo style developed in the last phase of Baroque, which it appeared during the 18th century in France and popular during the reign of King Louis XV. “The word comes form the French rocaille, meaning “rock”, and coquillage, meaning “shells,” because of the abundance of flowing, curved forms (Daniel et al., 2008 p270).” Rococo style is against the rigid classical form. Pursuit of freedom is what Rococo theme tries to express. Due to the peacetime in Europe, Rococo spread easily in Germany, Italy, Austria and Russia. By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution represented the end of excessive style and returned to classicism that as well known as Neoclassicism. Hence, the rococo is the final phase of the Baroque era.

How to distinguish the Baroque Style and Rococo style in architecture?

Firstly, gold is the predominant color in Baroque Architectures. In contrast, Rococo Architecture prefers bright color and less gold, such as blue, pink and white color.

Baroque interior design
The Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo (Rococo building)

Secondly, Baroque style engaged the serious and heavy theme. However, Rococo style chose a more elegant and graceful version.

Finally, while Baroque style always shows religious theme; Rococo style uses aristocracy to replace religious theme. For example, indoor wall paintings of Rococo style no longer confines God stories. There were lots of paintings to show brownstone aristocratic life.

Baroque wall paintings
Pilgrimage on the Isle of Cythera (Rococo painting)

French Baroque Architecture

Baroque architecture became the dominant architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in most European countries. However, the worst Baroque style structures are terrible because the troubles of those buildings are too crowded with decoration and they broke too many rules. Some Baroque style buildings are attractive and beautiful and one of them is Versailles.

The Hall of Mirrors from the Palace of Versailles

In France, King Louis XIV extensively used of the baroque style to show his absolutism. Despite the baroque style start and development in church architecture in Italy, the power of the French monarchy and the wealthy upper class developed Baroque designs to secular castle. People more concerned about the smaller details when they built estates and palaces. To design large elaborate courtyards, fountains and interior decorations are become the architects’ work, and architects’ works were similar likes interior designers and landscapers. Baroque buildings are generally very well planned, which means to fit the place where they are built and to go well with the scenery around them.

Château de Maisons-Laffitte near Paris, 1642 

“Baroque chateaux were typically designed on a three part plan, including the cpros de logis, cour d’honneur and grandiose interiors (Daniel et al., 2008 p224).” The cpros de logis is a French Architecture term for the principal part of a large palace. It is a center most section and contains the principal rooms and stat apartments and entrance. Cour d’honneus is also a French Architecture term referring a large three-side courtyard. The cpros de logis and the two wings surround it. Grandiose interiors include marble staircase and mirror halls. In eighteenth century, lots of buildings were influenced by Baroque architecture.

Daniel et al. (2008). Architecture A World History. New York: Abrams, Inc.

The Beginning of Baroque Period

In the Renaissance period, the humanism waves swept over the whole of Europe. Burgeoning Capitalism weakened seriously the dominance of religion in human ideological field. At the same time, modern natural science came into Europe. “Heliocentric Theory” overthrew “Geocentric Theory” which was supported by the Christian. Religion was hit two times in a row. The Roman Church realized the power of art. Hence, “Baroque began in Italy, where, as part of the counter-reformation, the Catholic Church sought to attract the masses away from Protestantism (Daniel et al., 2008 p223).”


Francesco Borromini: Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza     

Baroque art was stimulated by counter-reformation. Thus, pray, meditation and spirituality are cores of Baroque art, which is the response of counter-reformation. Baroque art is trying to overwhelm the sense. Therefore, entering a Baroque building, those paints and scriptures can cause a strong resonance. The style of Baroque is massive and ornate, which the main purpose is glorifying the church and the Catholic religion. In Italian Baroque architecture, it begins in the Italian model of the basilica with crossed concave surface and nave. In order to catch the attention, churches became an ostentatious display of wealth. They extensively used valuable materials and pursue fresh style. Unprecedented architectural image and techniques emerge in an endless stream. Baroque Architectures are gorgeous, grand and magnificent. Although the main reason of beginning Baroque is struggling for religious, the style quickly occupied Italy and extended to the rest of European countries.


Daniel et al. (2008). Architecture A world History. New York: Abrams, Inc.