worship at the time of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations. The architect and the clergyman, whether priest or pastor, worked together towards the common goal of glorifying the church. In the medieval period, the urban church often appeared somewhat inconspicuous, prevented from standing out among its surroundings by a lack of space and the chaotic character of the neighbouring structures. Engravings of cities at the beginning of the modern period suggest that the height lent to church fleches was due more to design conventions than a desire to signal the church's location within the urban area. Saint Charles Borromeo appears to be one ofthe first seriously concerned with the need to separate the place ofworship from its neighbouring buildings (Instructionesfabricae ecclesiasticae et supellectilis ecclesiasticae libri duo, 1577). Here he took into account both questions of financial security, and the right of a place of divine worship to be set apart from secular life. Accordingly, he put forward the idea that the network of urban streets should surround the building at the chevet and sides, but that the main facade should open onto a public space. Yet the architectural and urban project could not be restricted to such functional purposes. The construction of places of worship was part of a larger objective, of what the ancient Romans called the 'ornamentation' of the city. The facade now appeared as a constituent element ofthe urban visual complex (in the Gesu it even took the form of a triumphal arch). It was to this end that Carlo Raimondi built the twin churches in the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, for example. Similarly, Christopher Wren recommended that church towers be built tall and beautiful, so that without excessive expenditure, the architect might distinguish the place of worship from its built-up surroundings, and embellish the overall appearance of a city. In a period when urban planning was seen as a policy to construct public buildings around which residential areas might progressively develop (the Invalides in Paris, for example), the building of new churches held an important position in city design.
Within this redefined urban space, the external aspects of buildings of worship accrued the powers of a new symbolic discourse. In 1631, for example, Baldassare Longhena confirmed that his choice of a central plan for the Salute in Venice was based on the desire to design a crown for the Virgin Mary Borromini explained that the facade of the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, curved but convex in the centre, offered the image of the mystical church opening its arms to welcome believers into its heart (1638-42). Bernini adopted the same metaphorical language for Saint Peter's Square. And for Sant' Ivo delle Sapienza (1643-50), he suggested an analogy between the motif of the tiered dome with its triple-spiralled steeple and the image of the papal tiara. In a similar manner, Guarino Guarini designed the chapel ofthe Sindona
Was this article helpful?