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Corfù: urban policy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries


The propaganda of architecture, such as self-glorification, or the portrayal of the virtues of an enlightened ruling class, which had met with such fortune in the capital and mainland dominions, reached the Levant territories only in a very limited degree. A Senate  ecree of 1550 had declared that public money was to serve 'purely for the use for which it was ordered, which is the fortress and the security f those cities and our places, and not pomp and impertinent ornamentation.'1 Concina feels that the 'Porta Reale' ('Royal Gate') destroyed in the late nineteenth century represented a 'limited and linguistically contained exception' (which was described so enthusiastically by Marmora in 1672: ...'Behind the ravelin  that faces onto the village of San Rocco there rose a gate which has the name and magnificence of royal, able to compete as an equal with the most illustrious constructions of the Greeks and the Romans').2 The Venetians' only architectural undertaking which acquired symbolic meaning was the 'piazza' ('square') constructed c. 1588. Marmora described it 'with two cisterns in the middle with copious water and richly adorned with carvings and figures that render it the more beautiful'.3 Here the ability of Venetian institutions to provide the city with water seems to make up for nature's shortages, and symbolise the domination of a recalcitrant nature.

1 'schiettamente a quel fine al quale l'è ordinato, ch'è la fortezza a la sicurtà di esse città et luoghi nostri et non a pompa et ornamenti impertinenti'
2 'Dietro il Rivellino che fronteggia il borgo di S. Rocco si solleva una porta che di Reale ha il nome e la magnificenza, potendo concorrere di pari con le fabbriche più illustre o de' Romani o de' Greci'
3 'con due cisterne nel mezzo copiose d'acqua e ricche per gl'intagli e le figure che le rendono più belle'

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Viaggio virtuale tra le fonti storiche veneziane
Rotta: Venezia e il Levante (sec XV - sec XVIII)
© 1996 by the VENIVA consortium