Baroque Architecture: All You Need to Know

Baroque Architecture

Baroque Architecture Characteristics

  • grand;
  • dramatic;
  • gothic;
  • highly decorative;
  • powerful;
  • spiritual;
  • theatrical;
  • colourful;
  • sensual;
  • contrast in lighting.

Baroque Architecture Definition & the Baroque Architecture Period

The Baroque period in architecture took place from the late 16th to 18th centuries. It originated in Italy and spread from then on. This period drew inspiration from the Renaissance before it, but dramatized its existing ideas and took them to bigger stages. The Baroque architecture style is known for its theatrics.

Baroque Architecture Facts

Baroque Architecture Characteristics
  • connected deeply to the Catholic Church;
  • incorporates Renaissance style in an elevated and dramatic tone;
  • many believe this period’s works were used as religious propaganda;
  • Baroque-style architecture developed a focus on wealth and power;
  • “Baroque” as a word originated from a negative connotation derived;
  • from the word Baracco which in Portuguese described unwanted pearls.

The Baroque Church

Baroque churches constructed all over the world were known for their drama and detail. Routed mostly in Catholicism, these churches were filled with images referencing religion using grand colorful images. These churches looked both expensive and gothic. They also featured large, colorful murals all over the ceilings. Churches are a prime example of the power of baroque buildings.

Baroque Architecture across Europe

These are the most esteemed Baroque architecture examples of our lifetime. Each unique structure is derived from the core elements of this distinct style! Watch as we follow architecture over the years and throughout Europe.



This dramatic period of art was first initiated by Italians in the late sixteenth century, where it all began. It was sparked by counter-reformation, targeted specifically at the Protestant Church as a form of protest, and served as a way to celebrate the Catholic Church and its immense wealth. Italian baroque architecture lit the flame that spread across Europe and eventually, Latin America. The work of the Italians focussed on dramatizing the ideas of the Renaissance, whilst also intensifying the combination of emotion and status symbols. Some Baroque architecture examples include but are not limited to Saint Peter’s Square realized by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This famous piazza is located in front of the Basilica in Vatican City. In the center stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk. Massive columns frame St. Peter’s Basilica and create a grand sense of drama. Another example of Roman Baroque architecture is the church of San Carlo Alle Quattro Fontane designed by Francesco Borromini. It is made up of beautiful geometric figures and is acclaimed for its innovative convex-concave wall rhythms.


French baroque architecture

This country followed Italy into this exploration following the renaissance. French Baroque architecture is remembered for its detailed palaces and intricate gardens. France played an important role in the evolution of this period and the buildings from this era are still visited by tourists and maintained to this day. During the Baroque period, the monarchy was in its prime with Louis XIII, XIV, and XV reigning at the time. Each king felt they were at the center of the universe and it is reflected in the grandeur of the classical Baroque style of the buildings and palaces in their name. No structure was too ambitious or luxurious for royalty and this secular focus turned French Baroque architects away from churches and to royal dwellings.

french baroque

Every palace designed for the monarchy was meant to radiate power and sheer opulence. Not one inch of these structures could lack extravagance. They were filled with color, crystal, bright color, and stunning pieces of art. Another important element coined by the French was symmetry and a three-wing layout emphasizing the most central wing. The exterior gardens were equally thought out and featured detailed landscaping and marvelous sculptures. Every detail of these works of exemplary art was intentional and overpoweringly beautiful. You can see this reflected in the famous Palace of Versailles which is known as one of the greatest architectural achievements of the 17th century. It is built of over 2,300 spectacularly designed rooms and it is one of the most attractive tourist sights in France to date.


Baroque Architecture Spanish

Spanish Baroque architecture appealed more to emotions rather than prioritizing intellect. The Churriguera family played a role in the designing of signature altars and challenged the decoration of surfaces creating what is now known as Churrigueresque style. The famous three sides of the Plaza Mayor are famous in Madrid today. The original design began with Juan de Herrara and is most recently credited to Juan de Villanueva. This Plaza has suffered many fires and attacks and yet its essence still remains. Its rectangular shape highlights uniformity in architecture and features over 200 balconies. This beautiful plaza is now home to Madrid’s famous annual Christmas market. Another prime example is the University of Valladolid in the region of Castille and Leon Spain. It is well known for its gothic elements and the Baroque facade of the famous architect, Fray Pedro.

Baroque Spanish


english baroque architecture

The English took a more conservative and classical approach to Baroque design. English Baroque architecture is appreciated for its simple, heavy structures adorned with elaborate embellishments and decorations. This period took precedence in England following the Great Fire of London in 1666. This Fire destroyed the city and left it as a shell, which architects saw as an opportunity to reinvent classical forms as they rebuilt the once beautiful city. Sir Christopher Wren created the current version of St. Paul’s Cathedral after the original had been destroyed. It is equipped with one of the largest central domes in the entire world and its sheer size is outstanding on its own. Inspired by Latin elements, this church takes a less airy approach compared to the Baroque churches of Spain and Italy. This church now serves as the famous architects resting place. Another English favorite is Blenheim Palace. It was constructed in the early 1700s and is known for its beautiful garden landscape and dramatic size and details. It was fully realized by Sir John Vanbrugh and originally meant to be as a gift to Duke, John Churchill.


German Baroque

German Baroque architecture focused primarily on religion and nobility. The palaces and churches built during this era were otherworldly. The Germans combined the best parts of French and Italian baroque design to create grand structures of their own. German architectural style emphasized great exuberance and power while using noble materials. They incorporated columns and arches with elegant decorative elements and expanded by using more geometric layouts that contrasted the make of buildings from the Renaissance. A beautiful example of this era in Germany is the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. It was built in the late 17th century, originally designed by Johann Arnold Nering. This palace was built for a queen and is famous for its sheer size and astounding detail. Two battling sculptures complement the grand entrance and the palace is built with all the beauty found in Baroque. You can visit this remarkable palace in Berlin today.

Expanding to Mexico

Baroque Architecture in Europe

This design-altering period even extended its reach to Latin America. Baroque Architecture in Mexico is known for its. Following Europe, Baroque spilled into colonial Mexico due to its unique ability for art to thrive. Mexican architects took inspiration from Spain and then adapted Baroque principals to match the essence of indigenous workers and Mexican-born Spaniards. In Mexican architecture, any empty space is considered to be wasteful, so ornamentation played a huge role in the visions of Mexican Structures. Decorative elements were emphasized above all else and the use of other materials like plaster and wood was unique to the culture of this country’s architectural masterpieces. Some examples of this include “The Cathedral of Mexico City” located in the capital and “The Well Chapel” in the Guadalupe Shrine Complex.

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