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BricksandStones's avatar

A friar and an astronomer

This is the medieval, western façade of the cathedral in Ferrara (Italy). It is the only medieval part of the cathedral that is still preserved; the rest of the building is a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque styles and has a very different, modern feel to it. The façade, however, is genuine 12th C. work that includes Romanesque and Gothic elements in a manner that is reminiscent of Lombard architecture. The façade today looks very similar to the way it appeared in the late 15th C. when Ferrara was home to two extraordinary figures. The first was born in Ferrara – Girolamo Savonarola was a Dominican friar and a powerful preacher who criticized the corruption and wealth of the church. He opposed the powerful Medici family as well as the Pope and used popular support to take control of one of Italy’s wealthiest cities – Florence. For a moment, it seemed his fiery speeches and visions gave him absolute control over the heart of Italy but eventually Savonarola was brought before the Pope and was tortured, branded as a heretic and executed. At the same time, another visitor to Ferrara was a Polish astronomer, Nicholaus Copernicus. After studying in the Cracow University, Copernicus went to the universities of Bologna and Ferrara to further his knowledge. In few years, he will return to Poland and publish a ground breaking work arguing that the earth is not the center of the universe but rather, that is orbits around the sun.

What did Copernicus think about Savonarola? I wonder, was he inspired or threatened by Savonarolla’s radicalism? Did he expect that his own, radical views about the universe will echo through the history of Europe and science? When Copernicus and Savonarola looked at the cathedral in Ferrara, did it bring them solace? Did they find it beautiful or were they so busy with their work that they paid no heed to the old building? Either way, the façade stands as a witness surviving one of the most dramatic periods in the history of Europe – the time of radical ideas and remarkable individuals like Copernicus or Savonarola who sought to bring change to the world around them.

 

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© 2017 - 2021 BricksandStones
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Szura69's avatar
So beautiful <3 
BricksandStones's avatar
I am very glad you think so :) it is a pleasure to get some positive feedback - thank you very much and all the best from northern Israel!
michael-d-beckwith's avatar
I like the details in the architecture, very nice photograph B&S.:)
BricksandStones's avatar
I am very glad you like it Michael - thank you very much for viewing this piece and (once again) sorry for taking so many days to respond - despite this delay, I honestly appreciate your comment!
Zivichi's avatar
This is a very impressive cathedral! Cute Emoticon BlushingI love the many arcs that it has!pink heart   
BricksandStones's avatar
I also like facades decorated with such arches - it is a pleasure to know that someone else also appreciates their beauty - thank you very much for the comment and I am sorry for taking so long to reply!
artamusica's avatar
I love your reflection regarding those historic figures and how they might have perceived this building. I haven't been to Ferrara so haven't ever seen this cathedral. It's an interesting piece of architecture. Perhaps Mozart might have seen it on his tour of Italy. He certainly was in Bologna, that other famous university town. As always, I just love all your commentary, it makes these buildings, photos and history come alive again! Are you still working on that museum project?
BricksandStones's avatar
Whenever I see a comment from you my first impulse is to write - thank you! It is a pleasure get such a kind and interesting comment. Somehow, thinking that Mozart might also have gazed upon this facade seems to complement the story about Copernicus and Savonarola - yet another, talented spectator in Ferrara :) About your question - yes - the Museum is scheduled for opening for 2020 but the scenario for the medieval exhibition, that is the part I am working at - is supposed to be ready by September 2017 so right now I still have a lot of work to do - we will see how things will work out afterwards - I would love to start working in the university but this will probably be hard - especially since I have so much work in the museum that I was not able to prepare applications for grants and work of academic publications..... it seems my dreams are just drifting away... still, the museum project is interesting and quite rewarding as well so... anyway, thank you for the comment - as always, I really appreciate it!
artamusica's avatar
So happy to know that I inspire you to write at least! I am very excited about the preparation of your medieval part of the museum and know that you are working very hard on this. It is often hard to balance out one's creative/academic life with out and out survival (i.e. a job). You are fortunate to have a job now that at least uses your expertise and knowledge, and sometimes our paths lead us in different directions that we thought to pursue. Don't give up on your dreams, my friend, it just might take a little longer than you thought. My piano duo partner and I just gave a concert recently and we hadn't done so since 2009. It took her retirement from the international school where we both taught for so many years to spur us on. And it was really good for both of us--not to mention the charity that we raised money for. So we are already planning another one at least. It IS nice to be doing what we trained most of our lives to be doing, but it has also been very worthwhile doing the teaching that we have both done over so many years. To some students, music didn't mean much, but to others we were able to give so much and affect their lives in a meaningful and positive way. I never really had a mentor in my field, so instead I have turned to mentoring others--to give them what I missed so much. It's all about making the world a better place somehow. And learning from history is a lesson that the world so desperately needs now, and always. Keep up the good work, and try to make some time for writing those grants and applications. It will take longer since you have much less time. So allow for that (i.e. start waaaaay before the deadlines). It's all about time management. And in this fast moving world, it is hard to keep up. But don't give up. I know you can do it!!
dashinvaine's avatar
I had assumed that Savonarola was a Florentine, but then no man is a prophet in his home town... Haven't been to Ferrara. Apparently the interior of ther cathedral had to be redone after a fire in the 18th century. The cathedral is evidently the reverse of many Italian churches, where one often finds an older core behind a Renaissance, Baroque or neo-classical facade. 

The sides of the cathedral as well as the front facade seem to be medieval survivals, from what pictures I can find. The Romanesque sides appear to be older than the Gothic front, if anything. 
BricksandStones's avatar
To start with the obvious - thank you very much for the comment Gordon - you are a talented and well informed artist so I always particularly enjoy our exchanges :) As for Savonarola being born in Ferrara - not Florence - I was not aware of this until I saw Savonarola's statue with a plaque bragging that he was born in this city.... Also, I like the phrase 'no man is a prophet in his home town' - I think I have heard it before so I googled it and, apparently, a similar quote comes from the Holy Bible (Luke 4:24?). I assume you knew this but for me this was new knowledge... Also, about sides being older than the facade - I think you are right, I can only add that the sides must have been rebuilt at some point so that only part of their decoration (particularly the colonnade) date from the pre-gothic period.... Thank you again and sorry for taking so long to respond! 
JArchitect's avatar
Excelent Job, as Always.
BricksandStones's avatar
Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment Juan - I appreciate it and I am very glad you like it - thanks again!
JArchitect's avatar
It's a pleasure for me; And above all your image coincided with a retrospective study of the general history of architecture, which I am developing and personal form. Thanks for giving that clarity and objectivity that architects need with your images. Without forgetting your descriptions, great work.
BricksandStones's avatar
I am glad you like it - thank you very, very much for the comment - all the best!
Paul-1485's avatar
Great pic of an interesting building!
BricksandStones's avatar
I am very glad you think so Paul - thank you very much for taking the time to comment - the weather in Warsaw is quite awful right now so getting a positive comment is a great way to cheer up - thank you!
lostknightkg's avatar
Stunnin awesome Architecture, love the fine carved details  :)
BricksandStones's avatar
I am very glad you like it! This facade was the only reason why I visited Ferrara (nearly 8 years ago, to be honest....) Thank you very much for taking the time to comment - as always - I really appreciate it - I was hoping you might appreciate the mixing of Gothic and Romanesque arches - it seems very harmonious here.... Thank you again!
lostknightkg's avatar
It is unique and totally worth seeing, welcome :)
LadyMarg's avatar
Piękne. Tyle pięknych miejsc na świecie, a ja nadal bez kasy, by je zobaczyć :D
BricksandStones's avatar
Ech, jak to mówią anglicy "tell me about it" - ostatnio dużo mniej podróżuję z tego samego powodu - praca w Polsce - o ile uda się znaleźć to jednak dużo mniejsze zarobki - to zdjęcie zrobiłem 7 lat temu - wrzucam stare na DA bo teraz podróżuję dużo, dużo mniej niż kiedyś - generalnie moje sukcesy podróżnicze ostatnio to Pułtusk i Płock :) Dzięki za komentarz - to bardzo miłe, że chce Ci się coś napisać czasem - może w przyszłości będzie lepiej i znajdą się środki na podróże - trzymam za nas kciuki :)
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