Basilica Palladiana of Vicenza & Jewelry Museum
The Basilica Palladiana in Vicenza is a cultural and exhibition center housed in a 16th-century architectural masterpiece by Andrea Palladio, which also accommodates the Museo del Gioiello (Jewelry Museum), one of the rare museums exclusively dedicated to jewels.
Originally built in the 15th century as a courthouse and administrative building with stores on the ground level (a truly mixed-use building as we would call it today) and known as Palazzo della Ragione, the imposing Basilica Palladiana was re-designed by famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (hence its name) in the mid-16th century.
In the Basilica, Palladio introduced elements typical of his style, including an array of Palladian windows (or serliana) and a monumental timber vault shaped like an inverted ship’s hull.
The term Basilica does not refer to a religious construction but to the word used in ancient Rome to identify large public buildings, as Palladio himself explains in The Four Books of Architecture (1570).
“Basilica means royal house because it is the place where judges administer justice for the benefit of the people. Today’s basilicas are raised on vaults, where stores of artisans and merchant are housed, and they also contain prisons”
An engraving showing the Basilica Palladiana of Vicenza in the 19th century
From 2007 to 2012 the palace underwent major restoration and renovation works after a design by Spanish architect Salvador Perez Arroyo and re-opened as a museum and temporary exhibition center.
The Jewelry Museum of Vicenza
Opened in 2014, the museum is a joint project of the Fair and the Municipality of Vicenza and encompasses a floor area of 410 square meters / 4,400 square feet.
The museum, directed by Alba Cappellieri, professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan, is focused on jewel history, design, and manufacturing.
The Museo del Gioiello is distributed on two levels: an entrance lobby, a temporary exhibition space, and the book-shop are housed on the ground floor.
The permanent exhibition of the museum is located on the second floor and is divided into 9 thematic sections: Symbol, Magic, Function, Beauty, Fashion, Design, Icons, and Future, each curated by an international specialist.
Some 400 jewels are on display, arranged to depict different themes and interpretation keys.
Along with housing the Jewelry museum, the Basilica Palladiana also accommodates temporary exhibitions and special events.
Images: Museo del Gioiello, photos by Cosmo-Laera, cover image courtesy of Comune di Vicenza
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