The seventeenth century in European history is the age of Baroque architecture. Architecture of this period bordered on elegance, magnificence, grandeur, and sophistication.
Baroque architecture was characterized by originality. The prime motivation for architecture was offered by the Papacy of Rome. Seeking to establish authority and thereby to make Rome the center of administration, the commanding Popes of the time favored new architecture as a medium for urbanization. As opposed to the buildings of the earlier era, sculpture and painting became an integral part of the architecture of that period. The altarpieces and the frescoes cycles were unified in a tremendous fashion using color and light in the most perfect manner.
Opposed to the buildings of the Renaissance period, the Baroque architectural buildings revealed a motive to design complex buildings that were in harmony with their political as well as religious goals. Baroque architecture had first emerged in Italy. The commanding Popes were seeking to complete the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The special features and characteristics of the seventeenth century Roman architecture were most importantly depicted in the monumental Baldacchino of gilded bronze beneath the Dome of Michelangelo and in the Colonnaded Piazza of 1650s. The architectural designs by Bernini reveal a seminal direction in the architecture of the period. Francesco Borromini was another such artisan who had emerged in the 1630s. His approach to architecture was different from the rest. The master architects of the period, while remaining true to the theme and dominant architectural characteristics of the period, had their own unique styles.
Whereas in Italy, the architectural innovations and styles centered around the ecclesiastical buildings, in France the architecture was more secular in nature. Louis le Vau was commissioned by the Surintendent des Finances to raise an elegant chateau at Vaux la Vicomte. This, along with the gardens that were laid out at Le Notre, stands out as the prime specimens of the Baroque architecture. In France, with the designing of the Church of Invalides, the ecclesiastical architecture reached the acme of success. The Church symbolizes the French principles of architectural aestheticism. The monument was designed by J.N. Mansart under the patronage of Louis XV. The façade showcases the classicism. The altar has been offered a very high position much influenced by St. Peter’s baldacchino.
Another exquisite specimen of the Baroque style of architecture was the Blenheim Palace that had begun in the year 1705. This brilliant piece of architecture was designed by John Vanbrugh. It was the residential place for the Duke of Marlborough. The building was inspired by the piazza San Pietro by Bernini and Palace at Versailles. It also combined the medieval architectural features, while keeping with dominant style of the Baroque architecture.