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Beginning in the late 16th century, through the 17th century and middle of the 18th century, European architecture was characterized as baroque. Baroque architecture began in Italy and soon spread to most of Europe and Latin America, often used to express the universal triumph of the Catholic Church (in areas such as Italy or Spain) and absolute monarchy. European nations brought baroque architecture into the New World, as it coincided with the rise of colonialism.
Baroque Architecture - European
Baroque architecture in general made dramatic use of the following architectural elements:
- Light, either through strong light and dark contrast (chiaroscuro)
- Opulent colors and ornamentation
- Large ceiling frescos
- An external façade often dominated by a central projection.
Baroque architecture began in Italy, where its most famous example remains the piazza of Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Baroque architecture proved remarkably popular in Spain. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a notable work of baroque architecture there, often said to have the most impressive display of intricate surface decoration, known as Churrigueresque, in honor of the family of Spanish architects who designed many of the famous cathedrals of the period. Stunning examples of baroque architecture can be found across Europe, from France to Poland, Hungary, and even Russia. St. Paul's Cathedral in London, designed by Christopher Wren, is an example of the English baroque style, more muted than the continental style.